College campuses are no stranger to high drama. Just take, for example, those anti-protesting protesters from "PCU
." Who cares if it's a fictional campus?
In the real world of academics, there's plenty of turmoil too, and much of it originates from the sidelines of a football field. Brian Kelly's recent announcement that he has accepted the Notre Dame head-coaching position
and will leave the undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats prior to their BCS showdown on Jan. 1 against Florida in the Sugar Bowl is just the latest in a long string of shockers involving college football coaches.
So in honor of Brian Kelly, who will watch his former team play on New Year's Day from his brand new office in South Bend (which probably smells like rich mahogany), here are the five most memorable college football coaching breakups in recent memory.
5. Rich Rodriguez, from West Virginia to Michigan
This mess even has a lawsuit
to its credit. West Virginia claimed that when Rodriguez left, he breached his contract
with the Mountaineers, which included a $4 million buyout if Rodriguez left within one year of the date he inked the deal. The case eventually settled, and Michigan agreed to pay part of their new coach's buyout and legal fees
Things haven't exactly been rosy in Ann Arbor for the new coach, either. Aside from coaching the Wolverines to a 3-9 record in his first season -- the worst mark in team history -- he's had some things to cry about
like allegations that he overworks the Michigan players
. Perhaps he hasn't gotten the memo that, even more so than in baseball, there's no crying in football.
4. Ty Willingham, Notre Dame
Charlie Weis's firing
isn't the first time that Notre Dame has gotten upset because it's no longer a national powerhouse. Before Weis
, there was Willingham (and Bob Davie before him
). But the Willingham firing was considered unfair in many circles and possibly a result of racial sentiments.
Willingham led the Irish to a 21-15 record over three seasons, but Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White had seen enough. On Nov. 30, 2004, White announced
, "We will immediately begin a national search for a new football coach." Well, Notre Dame has now completed two
searches since firing Willingham. On top of that, it still owes Weis a ton of money -- because the university brilliantly signed him to a 10-year contract extension
during his first season.
3. Nick Saban, from LSU to the Miami Dolphins to Alabama
This one achieved disaster status because the smooth-talking Saban pissed off not only his former school but an NFL team too. Toward the end of the Miami Dolphins' mediocre 2006 season, rumors swirled that Alabama was courting the coach. Saban addressed the speculation during a press conference in late December when he declared, "I'm not going to be the Alabama coach
Two weeks later, Saban became the Alabama coach. The announcement surprised approximately nobody.
2. Houston Nutt, from Arkansas to Mississippi
The end of Mr. Nutt's stay in Arkansas was a certifiable train wreck. Things began to unravel after Arkansas lost three consecutive SEC games during the 2007 season. A campus protest followed
and boosters reportedly took out a $5,000 ad in a local newspaper
demanding that Nutt step down. Eventually, he did.
Nutt's departure from Arkansas became even more contentious because he took the head coaching job with the Razorbacks' arch rival, Mississippi. This episode further solidified the scientifically proven rule that drama and/or a homemade sex tape will follow anyone whose first name is also a city. And speaking of Arkansas ...
1. Bobby Petrino, from Louisville to the Atlanta Falcons to Arkansas
Petrino took a page from Saban's book here but pulled the trick even better. The first stage of this disaster was Petrino's departure from Louisville to become the head coach of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons in 2006 after signing a 10-year extension with Louisville earlier that year. However, shortly after accepting the Falcons job, that whole Michael Vick thing
happened. So even before Petrino had coached a single game from the Falcons' sideline, the scene was a shambles and it was basically a lost season.
Nonetheless, Petrino waited all the way until Week 13 before announcing his immediate resignation from Atlanta to become the head coach of Arkansas, leaving behind a heartfelt letter
notifying the Falcons' players of the move. Then Petrino got on a plane to Arkansas and one of the most awkward scenes in live television history ensued
. Pig sui!
Meanwhile, stay tuned for Brian Kelly's announcement in four years that he will be leaving Notre Dame to become the head coach of some team not named Notre Dame.