Commentary

Ones that love to inflict pain

Originally Published: August 4, 2010
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

Near the end of Steve Spurrier's tenure as Florida's coach, after the Gators lost to rival Florida State three straight times from 1998 to 2000, a frustrated fan called the coach's radio show.

[+] EnlargeSpurrier
Gary Rothstein/Icon SMINobody was safe from Steve Spurrier's barbs when the Head Ball Coach was at Florida.

"Coach, I live in Tallahassee and work with a bunch of FSU fans," the caller said. "I can't stand it anymore."

"Well, I'd suggest you move to Georgia then," Spurrier quipped.

Spurrier, perhaps more than any other college football coach, seemed to relish inflicting pain on his school's rivals and their fan bases. Whether it was beating Georgia 11 times in 12 seasons as Florida's coach, or referring to Florida State as "Free Shoes U.," Spurrier loved defeating rivals on the field and then beating them up even more after the games were already won.

Spurrier always seemed to enjoy beating the Bulldogs the most. During Spurrier's Heisman Trophy-winning season as Florida's quarterback in 1966, a 27-10 loss to Georgia cost the Gators their first SEC championship.

Spurrier has seemingly been seeking revenge ever since.

Here's a look at the coaches and programs which inflicted the most pain on their rivals over the years:

1. Steve Spurrier
After the Gators clinched their first SEC championship with a 45-13 win over Georgia in 1991, Spurrier told reporters, "How is it when [Georgia] signs people, they get the 'best,' but when we play, we've got the best players? Georgia has signed a lot of good players. Something just happens to them at Georgia, I guess."

When the Georgia-Florida game moved to the schools' campuses for two years during the mid-1990s because of construction at Jacksonville's stadium, which has traditionally hosted the annual border war, the Gators beat the Bulldogs 52-17 in Athens, Ga. Florida became the first opponent to score more than 50 points in Sanford Stadium. Florida backup quarterback Eric Kresser threw a touchdown pass with about one minute to go in the game. As Spurrier left the field, a Georgia fan doused him with a cup of tobacco spit.

"A lot of our coaches have mentioned to me that no one had scored 50 points in here before, so we wanted to do that," Spurrier said at the time. "We wanted to try to make it a memorable game for the Gators, and it was."

Georgia wasn't Spurrier's only target. After Florida State's infamous Foot Locker scandal in 1993, in which sports agents paid for a shopping spree for Seminoles players at a Tallahassee, Fla., mall, Spurrier quipped about FSU being "Free Shoes U." He also took his shots at SEC rival Tennessee, once saying you couldn't spell "Citrus" without "UT."

2. Barry Switzer

Oklahoma fans called it "Sooner Magic." Opponents' fans called it "Sooner Misery."

As Oklahoma's coach from 1973 to '88, Switzer had a 12-5 record against rival Nebraska, coming from behind eight times to win in the fourth quarter. His teams were 9-5-2 against Texas.

The Sooners handed the Cornhuskers their only regular-season losses in 1975, '79 and '87. In 1976, Oklahoma rallied from a 17-7 deficit in the fourth quarter at Nebraska, scoring the winning touchdown after a hook-and-lateral play.

In 1980, before Buster Rhymes scored Oklahoma's winning touchdown with 56 seconds to play in a 21-17 victory, an anxious Nebraska fan sprinted along the sideline. His only words, according to the Norman (Okla.) Transcript: "Oh, no. They're going to do it to us again."

3. Pete Carroll
From 2002 to '08, the Trojans won 82 of 91 games and at least a share of two national championships (although the NCAA would later strip them of some of those victories and one BCS championship because of violations involving former star running back Reggie Bush).

Carroll did his most severe damage against Big Ten opponents, often while coaching against them in the Rose Bowl. Carroll's teams won their last 10 games against Big Ten foes, winning nine by double digits. USC defeated Iowa 38-17 in the '03 Orange Bowl; Michigan 28-14 in the '04 Rose Bowl and 32-18 in the '07 Rose Bowl; Illinois 49-17 in the '08 Rose Bowl; and Penn State 38-24 in the '09 Rose Bowl.

Overall, the Trojans have won 36 of their last 45 games against Big Ten schools.

[+] EnlargeMiami Hurricanes and Florida State
AP Photo/Don DughiMissed field goals have cost Florida State dearly against Miami.

4. Miami Hurricanes
The Hurricanes inflicted so much pain on rival Florida State during the 1980s and '90s that former FSU coach Bobby Bowden once joked the epitaph on his tombstone would read: "But he played Miami."

The Hurricanes beat the Seminoles 11 times from 1980 to 1994, often when the game decided which team would remain in the hunt for a national title. There was Wide Right I, Wide Right II and Wide Left. Five of the Hurricanes' victories during the 15-year period were decided by a field goal or less, and they handed FSU its only regular-season losses in 1987, '88, '92 and '94.

5. Southern California
There has been plenty of misery for both sides in one of college football's most storied rivalries. But the Trojans have probably inflicted more pain on the Fighting Irish when it mattered most.

In 1964, the Trojans stunned the No. 1 Irish with the winning touchdown with only 1:35 left in a 20-17 victory. In 1970, the Trojans won 38-28, even after Irish quarterback Joe Theismann threw for a school-record 526 yards in a downpour. In 1972, USC tailback Anthony Davis scored six touchdowns in a 45-23 rout. Two years later, the Trojans came back from a 24-0 deficit, scoring 55 points in less than 17 minutes in a 55-24 win.

USC has dominated the rivalry since 1996, winning 11 of 14 games. The Trojans scored at least 34 points in eight of those games.

6. Jackie Sherrill
Opponents often referred to him as the "Prince of Darkness." Opposing coaches often called him worse. As coach at Pittsburgh, Texas A&M and Mississippi State, Sherrill knew how to please the masses -- by consistently beating his schools' most hated rivals.

At Pittsburgh, Sherrill became the first coach from the city school to beat Penn State in Happy Valley in consecutive seasons. When Sherrill and Penn State coach Joe Paterno met at midfield before the 1979 game, Sherrill famously told his counterpart, "You're gonna get a knot put on your head today." Pitt won 29-14.

Sherrill was the first Aggies coach to beat Texas five straight times (and twice more as coach at Mississippi State), and then he quickly cracked the Bulldogs' problems in the Egg Bowl. He refused to refer to his last rival as "Ole Miss," instead always saying the more politically correct "Mississippi." The Bulldogs had lost seven of eight Egg Bowl games when he took over in 1991, and then he promptly won seven of the next 11.

7. Woody Hayes
Hayes disliked rival Michigan so much that when his team had a 50-14 lead late in the 1968 contest, he unsuccessfully tried a two-point conversion pass. When asked afterward why he went for two with such a big lead, Hayes replied, "Because I couldn't go for three."

During the famous 10-year war between Hayes and Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, Hayes' protégé, the Buckeyes or Wolverines won the Big Ten title every season. From 1970 to '75, Michigan entered the Ohio State game undefeated each time. The Wolverines won only once, 10-7 in 1971. After the 1973 game ended in a 10-10 tie in Ann Arbor, Mich., a secret-ballot vote by Big Ten athletic directors sent the Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl, further infuriating Michigan fans.

[+] EnlargePat Dye
US PresswirePat Dye won the SEC coach of the year award three times at Auburn.

8. Pat Dye
As Auburn's coach, Dye helped the Tigers turn around two of their biggest rivalries.

Dye lost to Alabama 28-17 in the 1981 Iron Bowl, but then led the Tigers to six victories over the Crimson Tide in the next eight seasons. He handed Paul "Bear" Bryant a 23-22 loss in his last regular-season game as Alabama's coach in 1982, and later beat Tide coaches Ray Perkins and Bill Curry in their final games there. In the first Iron Bowl played at Auburn in 1989, the Tigers upset the undefeated Tide 30-20.

Dye also had great success against Georgia, his alma mater, winning seven of 12 games against the Bulldogs. In 1983, Bo Jackson ran for 115 yards in Auburn's 13-7 victory, which ended Georgia's three-year reign in the SEC.

9. Jim Tressel
Before Tressel was hired as Ohio State's coach in 2001, the Buckeyes had lost to Michigan 12 times in 16 seasons. Tressel guided the Buckeyes to a 26-20 victory over the Wolverines in his very first season -- OSU's first win in Ann Arbor since 1987 -- and has lost only once in nine meetings against Michigan.

The 2006 meeting between the schools was the most memorable, as Tressel guided the No. 1 Buckeyes to a 42-39 victory over the No. 2 Wolverines in Columbus, Ohio. The victory came the day after Schembechler died of a heart attack, and earned the Buckeyes a trip to the BCS National Championship Game.

10. Ara Parseghian
Bryant won six national championships as Alabama's coach, but might have won two more if he hadn't faced Parseghian's Notre Dame teams in bowl games.

In the 1973 Sugar Bowl, the Fighting Irish upset No. 1 Alabama 24-23. Notre Dame trailed 23-21 in the closing minutes, but kicked a field goal with 4:26 left to take the lead. After the Tide pinned the Irish near their own goal line, quarterback Tom Clements threw a 36-yard pass to Robin Weber on third-and-long to seal the victory.

One year later, Alabama was undefeated and ranked No. 1 when it played the Irish in the 1975 Orange Bowl. In Parseghian's final game, the No. 9-ranked Irish pulled off a 13-11 upset, costing Alabama a national championship.

Mark Schlabach covers college sports for ESPN.com. He co-authored Bobby Bowden's memoirs, "Called To Coach," which was published by Simon & Schuster. The book will be available in bookstores Aug. 24 and can be pre-ordered here. You can contact him at schlabachma@yahoo.com.

Mark Schlabach | email

College Football and Basketball