Six days before a crucial game against Notre Dame in South Bend, Florida State players were treated by sports agents to $6,000 worth of gear in a 90-minute after-hours foray at a Foot Locker store in Tallahassee's Governor's Square Mall. That visit was only the most brazen indiscretion committed by coach Bobby Bowden's Seminoles, who also took regular handouts from agents trying to sign them for their NFL careers. Florida State players wore their newly comped winter jackets to South Bend and were upset by the Fighting Irish 31-24, but later won their first national title with an Orange Bowl victory over Nebraska after Notre Dame was upset by Boston College. Two months after the trophy came back to Tallahassee, Sports Illustrated broke the shopping-spree story with a cover story headlined "Tainted Title." The NCAA was kinder, slapping the Seminoles' wrists with a one-year probation. Then-Florida coach Steve Spurrier got good mileage and laughs on the banquet circuit with the following joke:
What does FSU stand for? Free Shoes University.
Epilogue: Four years later, star wideout Peter Warrick got himself into hot water after he and teammate Laveranues (Trouble) Coles received deep discounts at a Dillard's department store in the same mall.
9. George O'Leary's résumé: Dec. 13, 2001
It could be argued that as goes Notre Dame, so goes college football. When the Irish are up and running, all is well in the world. When the Irish are down and struggling, the sport slouches. The Irish's history is full of would-be resurrections, and in the last month of 2001, Notre Dame's search for the next Rockne/Leahy/Parseghian/Holtz landed at the door of Georgia Tech head coach George O'Leary, a gruff, white-haired Irishman from New York City, straight out of central casting. It turned out that O'Leary's résumé was no more real than a Hollywood script either. O'Leary had faked a college football career and a graduate degree; he was gone without putting a whistle around his neck. He was replaced by Tyrone Willingham, who was canned in only four years, tossed into the same slag heap as Gerry Faust and Bob Davie, who also failed to bring glory to the Golden Dome.
10. The BCS mess: Jan. 4, 2004
Let's be frank here. The BCS is a mess every year. But it was in 2003 that the system came crashing down in one big heap of absurdity. LSU, Oklahoma and USC each finished the season with one defeat. USC was ranked No. 1 in the media and coaches' polls but would not be invited to play in the BCS national-title game because the BCS rankings listed the Trojans at No. 3, keeping season-long leader Oklahoma at No. 1 despite its 35-7 thrashing at the hands of Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship game. Ergo, LSU defeated Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, one day after USC pounded Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Co-champions prevailed and would never meet on the field. One year later Auburn was similarly excluded from the Orange Bowl national title game despite a 12-0 regular-season record and the Southeastern Conference championship.
REACT: What embarrassing or disgraceful moments did we leave out? Chime in here...