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Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Coaches you love to hate

By Andrea Adelson

Time for a little game. Think of the most vilified college football coaches today.

Your list probably looks something like this:

Bobby Petrino.
Rich Rodriguez.
Todd Graham.
Randy Edsall.

Connecticut Huskies head coach Randy Edsall
Randy Edsall is just one of many former Big East coaches who left the league.
You know what they all have in common. They all were Big East coaches at one point in time. Really great Big East coaches, to boot. But alas, great coaches never stick around for long in this league, a common lament among Big East fans. Perhaps the bigger question is -- what has made the Big East a breeding ground for villainous coaches?

Consider the recent history.

Exhibit A. Petrino got his first head coaching job at Louisville, and did one heck of a job, going 41-9 in four seasons. But the Cardinals were never just right, were they? I mean, how could they be when you 1) Try to negotiate a deal to become head coach at Auburn behind your boss' back. 2) Interview at Florida, Mississippi AND LSU the following year, while pledging love and loyalty to Louisville in between. 3) Forget loyalty and interview with the Oakland Raiders after Year 3 in Louisville. 4) Finally end the misery and leave for the Atlanta Falcons after a 12-1 season and an Orange Bowl berth.

That Atlanta dream job was not quite right either, so he left with good-bye statements taped to his players' lockers before the season even ended and headed for Arkansas. You all know how well his stint ended there.

Maybe all these aforementioned Big East coaches just hate good-byes.

Edsall left for Maryland after UConn lost the Fiesta Bowl to Oklahoma in January 2011 and never told his players word one about his plans. In fact, he did not even take the team charter home with the team. What may even be worse than that -- he made Jordan Todman get up in front of the team to explain why he was leaving early for the NFL draft. Edsall just finished a 2-10 season at Maryland in which he took a beating and lost 24 transfers. He is working hard to right the ship -- but you can bet some folks in Storrs are thinking, "Karma!"

Meanwhile at Pitt, Graham also had a tough time with good-byes at the end of last season. He told his players he was leaving via text message and hightailed it for Arizona State after a 6-6 season in which he had his players buying into an "high-octane" and "high-energy" offense. This, of course, came after he pretty much begged for the Pitt job after the Mike Haywood fiasco. But his shenanigans started at Rice, where he also had a one-year stint before leaving for Tulsa. ESPN.com columnist Mark Schlabach dubbed Graham the new president of the Liar's Club after his Pitt exit.

Rich Rod? Well, he is persona non grata in two states, West Virginia and Michigan. Who can forget the drama after he left the Mountaineers for the Wolverines in 2007, a few short months after signing a new contract and pledging his commitment to his school? West Virginia sued Rodriguez in the wake of his departure, and Michigan turned out to be an absolute disaster. It sure ain't easy being hated in as many spots as these guys.

There are others who left in less-than-ideal ways. How about Brian Kelly at Cincinnati, waiting until the end of his team banquet to announce his departure for Notre Dame? This was hours AFTER players began hearing news reports that they had lost their coach. Most recently, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano left for Tampa Bay less than a week before signing day, not even telling his loyal assistants, who were out on the road recruiting without any idea about what was happening.

His departure was tame compared to the rest. As for the others, I think they would make an excellent subject for a new television series.

"College Football Coaches Behaving Badly."