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10 memorable nasty college football splits


Tom Thibodeau took the Chicago Bulls to the NBA playoffs in each of his five seasons as coach of the team, but that didn't stop the Bulls from firing him Thursday -- and by basically trashing him in its release announcing the firing.

That got us to thinking about nasty college football splits. Here are 10 memorable ones, listed in chronological order.

Ohio State, with Woody Hayes

When: Dec. 30, 1978
Background: The volatile Hayes led the Buckeyes to three consensus national titles (1954, 1957 and 1968), but his temper got the best of him and led to him being fired. He punched Clemson nose tackle Charlie Bauman in the throat after Bauman intercepted a pass and was tackled out of bounds on Ohio State's side of the field late in the game during the 1978 Gator Bowl. That led to a mini-brawl and to Hayes storming onto the field to berate an official. Hayes was fired the next morning. He was offered a chance to resign, but reportedly told school administrators, "That would make it too easy for you. You better go ahead and fire me."

Tennessee, with Johnny Majors

When: Nov. 13, 1992
Background: Majors was one of the greatest players in Tennessee history and enjoyed success as the Vols' coach from 1977-92. But he needed heart surgery before the 1992 season and was replaced on an interim basis by Phil Fulmer, who had been a Vols assistant since 1980. Fulmer guided the Vols to a 3-0 mark before Majors returned. But Majors was forced to resign late in the season and the job was given to Fulmer. Majors always blamed Fulmer and disassociated himself from his alma mater, referring to Tennessee as "that place I used to work." There were reports that Majors changed churches because Fulmer belonged to the same congregation, but those appear to be apocryphal. Majors rejoined the Vols' "family" when Lane Kiffin replaced Fulmer after the 2008 season.

LSU, with Nick Saban

When: Christmas Day, 2004
Background: Saban had signed a seven-year extension in January of 2004, then gave the Tigers and their fans lumps of coal in their stockings by leaving for the Miami Dolphins. That was bad enough, but what really irked LSU fans was that he left the Dolphins to go to Alabama after the 2006 season; he tried to joke about it by re-telling a story he said was told to him in which LSU fans were referred to with a derogatory term about Cajuns. To this day, there's no quicker way to tick off an LSU fan than to say "Nick Saban."

Louisville, with Bobby Petrino

When: Jan. 8, 2007
Background: Petrino left Louisville to become coach of the Atlanta Falcons (of course, his leaving Louisville pales in comparison to him leaving the Falcons, but this is about bad college breakups). Petrino was at Louisville for four seasons (2003-06) but always seemed consumed by wanderlust, like when he lied to school officials in late 2003 about his interest in the not-yet-vacant Auburn job (Auburn officials definitely were left with egg on their faces, too). Petrino also had dalliances with LSU and with the Oakland Raiders during his time at Louisville -- and just happened to receive a raise each time. He also said "This is where I want to be" more than a few times. It turned out, though, that Louisville wasn't where he wanted to be -- well, at that point in time, anyway.

Boston College, with Jeff Jagodzinski

When: Jan. 7, 2009
Background: Jagodzinski was a hot commodity at the time and was interviewed by the New York Jets for their vacant coaching job on Jan. 3, 2009. The thing is, BC AD Gene DeFilippo had told Jagodzinski he would be fired if he interviewed with the Jets -- and he was. DeFilippo said at the news conference announcing Jagodzinski's firing that, "We will find somebody who really wants to be at Boston College."

Florida State, with Bobby Bowden

When: Dec. 1, 2009
Background: Bowden built FSU into the juggernaut it is today, but his final few seasons were rather mediocre, with the Seminoles losing at least four games in seven of his final nine seasons and three games in the other two seasons. FSU lost 13 games total in the 1990s. Jimbo Fisher was FSU's coach-in-waiting, and he replaced Bowden, who told reporters in 2010 that he was pushed out and that he did not want to resign.

Notre Dame, with Charlie Weis

When: Dec. 1, 2009
Background: Weis has a fertile offensive mind; he proved that in the NFL and, for a time, with the Irish. But his ego definitely was outsized -- remember his "schematic advantage" boast? -- and no one, not even Weis, should have been surprised when he was fired. Still, his departure makes this list because the school still is paying Weis; indeed, he "earned" $2,054,744 from Notre Dame for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2014. Weis received a payment of $6.6 million when he was fired, then received $2,054,744 in 2011, 2012 and 2013, too. The school won't finish paying him off until this December.

Pittsburgh, with Mike Haywood

When: Jan. 1, 2011
Background: Haywood had been hired on Dec. 16, 2010, so he was on the job a little more than two weeks before he was let go. Pitt fired him after he was arrested on domestic-violence charges. Haywood was replaced by Todd Graham, and he, too, lasted less than a year at Pitt; Graham left in December of 2011 for the Arizona State coaching job.

Take a look at the great players, coaches and teams that have shaped the history of college football.

Penn State, with Joe Paterno

When: Nov. 9, 2011
Background: Paterno, who had been a Penn State fixture since 1950, was fired in the aftermath of one of the most sordid scandals in athletics history (the Jerry Sandusky molestation case). Paterno had wanted to be allowed to step down at the end of the 2011 season, but instead, he and school president Graham Spanier were fired. Paterno's on-campus statue later was removed, as well.

Arkansas, with Bobby Petrino

When: April 11, 2012
Background: This was a parting for the ages, and that's saying something, considering it involves Petrino. Petrino was injured in a motorcycle accident, then lied to his bosses about who was with him when he crashed. It turns out it was his mistress -- who also happened to be an Arkansas athletic department employee whom Petrino had hired. In announcing the firing, Arkansas AD Jeff Long said Petrino "engaged in a pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior designed to deceive me and members of the athletic staff, both before and after the motorcycle accident."

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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