The 10 Most Shameful College Football Teams (That Are Also Good)

STILLWATER, OK - OCTOBER 30: Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops watches his team warm up prior to the start of the game against Oklahoma State at Boone Pickens Stadium on October 30, 2004 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Oklahoma State 38-35. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops watches his team warm up. | Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The sports community, even the world of golf, consistently finds itself embroiled in scandals. We wish this wasn’t the case, unfortunately, you can’t always get what we want. Yet, when these disgraceful acts (we’re most recently looking at you, Ole Miss) find their way to the college football gridiron, there’s only one place to turn: the Grid of Shame.

A college football team’s reputation is tiered with on-field exploits and players’ actions off the field. The Wall Street Journal compiled its always entertaining college football Grid of Shame. We had fun internally contesting the positioning of the teams that we like. And then we laughed at the teams that we don’t, much the same way anyone else digests college sports.

The grid is arranged on the horizontal axis according to each team’s preseason rankings. It’s curved out between several unnamed preseason polls and features the best sentence you’ll read this week: “The vertical axis measures shame.”

How does one quantify shame? According to The WSJ, it’s a combination of academic performance, NCAA violations (no word on whether being a part of the NCAA is implicitly shameful), how subsidized the college athletics are, and how much “ick factor” they have. Seriously. Read on to discover which college football powerhouses that people should be ethically suspect of rooting for.

10. Oklahoma State Cowboys

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Oklahoma State players feeling good. | Brett Deering/Getty Images

The smartest dumb school in college football: The Cowboys famously undershot the APR score required by the NCAA by .09. Evidently, a player from the ’90s dragged them down by not graduating until the mid-to-late 2000s (Oklahoma State appealed the decision successfully back in 2014). Props to that guy for graduating.

However, as much as we sympathize with Oklahoma State, and realize that the APR weighting system needs some work, the rest of the program has to get poor marks for failing to do just a little bit better. They couldn’t just have one more guy in the program study harder or cheat more?

9. Miami Hurricanes


Miami Hurricanes players hanging with the fans. | Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The most enduring scandal is, undoubtedly, the Nevin Shapiro saga. For anyone who’s unfamiliar with it, Shapiro was a booster for the Hurricanes. Apparently he really, really enjoyed buying things for his players. This spanned the last part of the decade since Shapiro became a booster in 2001 and the ensuing investigation lasted until 2013. The Miami Herald has a pretty fantastic timeline of this entire sketchy adventure. You can check it out here.

8. Oklahoma Sooners

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Oklahoma Sooners celebrate a score. | Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The WSJ takes pains to point out that the Sooners get marked down for Dorial Green-Beckham (now with the Philadelphia Eagles). You may remember him as the receiver who transferred to the team after Mizzou dismissed him. With Green-Beckham’s ability to actually suit up for Oklahoma in doubt, as the university remained in argument with the NCAA over whether or not he was actually eligible to play for quite a while, it’s important to remember that he got kicked off the Missouri team for allegedly breaking into a woman’s apartment and pushing her down the stairs. Which would only merit a three game suspension in the NFL.

7. Alabama Crimson Tide

Derrick Henry of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates with teammate Kenyan Drake after scoring a 50-yard touchdown against the Clemson Tigers during the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Alabama Crimson Tide celebrating their superiority. | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If you’re ever in the unfortunate position of having your house raided for drugs, make sure to do as these fine folk do and proclaim your allegiance for all to hear. You might even get some sympathy from the police. “Roll Tide” is nothing if not versatile, though; it can also be used as a way to explain nodding off in a classroom because of your opiate use. Remember, deny everything, and Roll Tide.

6. Mississippi State Bulldogs

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Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen smiles on the sidelines. Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Mississippi State college football coach Dan Mullen can smile all he wants. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the Bulldogs recently admitted Jeffrey Simmons, five-star D-line recruit who faces assault charges for throwing punches at a woman on the ground. To make matters worse than they already are, there’s a video — and it’s beyond disgusting. Don’t worry, Mississippi State made sure to discipline the “Star Recruit” — he has a one-game suspension (against South Alabama). Clearly the university has its priorities in order.

5. Ole Miss Rebels

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Laremy Tunsil #78 celebrates with his Ole Miss teammates. | Chris Graythen/Getty Images

A video surfaced of former Ole Miss offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil ripping a bong while wearing a gas mask, which caused him to fall to the Miami Dolphins at No. 13. So you knew it was only a matter of time before things really started to spiral out of control. Unfortunately for him, the scandal appears to be far worse than the follow-up screenshots that showed a conversation between Tunsil and an Ole Miss employee discussing the payment of bills.

According to Tunsil’s stepfather, Lindsey Miller, who has a strained relationship with the player, the school actually helped pay for the family to move to Oxford, Miss. Per Miller: “It’s like that movie Blue Chips with Nick Nolte, with Shaquille O’Neal in it. It really is.” We’ve seen that move, and trust us, this does not bode well for Ole Miss.

4. Florida State Seminoles

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Jameis Winstons enjoying a victory. | Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Crab legs. A community that seems reluctant to investigate allegations of its star quarterback’s improprieties. An undefeated team, the Florida State Seminoles can very easily be pigeonholed to occupy a near-caricature of an entitled athletics program and players who think they can get away with anything. While that’s not fair to Florida State, it’s not wrong, and that might be the most damning evidence of all.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels

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North Carolina Tar Heels celebrating. | Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Where to start with the Tar Heels? There’s the hazing, there’s the academic literacy problem, and there’s the allegations of racial discrimination that came out of the investigation into the academic literacy concerns, but whatever avenue you decide to go down, North Carolina doesn’t come out of it looking good at all.

2. Baylor Bears

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Former Baylor coach Art Briles. | Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

We don’t care how much success Art Briles had during his tenure as the head football coach at Baylor, he had to be let go by the university. The way he handled — or rather, didn’t handle — the allegations of sexual assault made against Baylor students, some being members of the football team, is absolutely inexcusable. If you’re curious to see the extent to which the school failed to protect its students, we suggest reading this independent report — it’s beyond scathing.

1. Penn State Nittany Lions

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Regardless of what Penn State supporters would like to think, their school’s football program has an ick factor that isn’t going away any time soon. That’s what happens when you attempt to defend the reputation of a guy who definitely knew what Sandusky was up to and tried to cover it up. Joe Paterno was a creep. Sorry.

To see The Wall Street Journal’s “College Football Grid of Shame,” click here.