Top 5 NCAA Football Player Suspensions
These days college football is everywhere, with some of the athletes being more famous than their professional counterparts. Now, with football being as popular as it has ever been — NCAA football’s attendance averages over 45,000 and Michigan holds the attendance record with 115,109 — players have been thrust into the limelight at an exceptional rate. Eighteen-year-old kids are expected to conduct themselves like gentleman and be the face of franchises: something I myself would not have been able to handle. And with the good comes the bad press, as the media observes these kids and waits for them to slip up: criticizing their every move for ratings.
However, this is a flesh for cash industry and who are we to throw the first stone. So after some recent suspensions, uSports thought it would be fun to look at five of the craziest suspensions in NCAA history. Now, the criteria to make this list does not have to be a severe punishment, it is rather how high profile the player is in regards to the school.
5) Todd Gurley (RB, Georgia)
The most recent suspension on this list, Todd Gurley is the extremely talented running back on the Georgia Bulldogs. Before this year’s controversy paused his 2014 season, he was averaging 8.2 yards per carry — a ridiculously high number — in only five games and just under a hundred touches. However, in early October reports emerged claiming that Gurley received monetary compensation from memorabilia brokers for providing his autograph.
Now, you can argue over the fact that this dated NCAA rule is bogus and athletes should be able to sell their brand: but a rule, for now, is still a rule. As a result Gurley was suspended indefinitely, which was then lessened to four games. But the damage was already done: Georgia, who already had a loss on the season, lost to Florida in a game that was necessary to keep their 2014 playoffs hopes alive. And while Nick Chubbs has settled nicely into the role of replacing Gurley, it is quite clear the Bulldogs miss the eventual first-round draft pick’s talent.
4) Cam Newton (QB, Auburn)
One of the shortest and craziest punishments on this list, the NCAA suspended Cam Newton for a single day: according to the NCAA, Newton’s father attempted to market his son “as a part of a pay-for-play scenario in return for Newton’s commitment to attend college and play football.” To make matters worse, this investigation happened in the middle of Auburn’s national championship season: something that was in large part due to Newton’s spectacular play on the field.
Further mix this with the notion that Newton was suspended while playing for Florida for stealing a laptop in 2008 and the media had an absolute field day with this event. In the end, the one-day suspension was basically a way for the NCAA to save face, while most of the blame was placed on Reverend Cecil Newton and other unnamed individuals.
3) Terrelle Pryor (QB, Ohio State)
Great week of OTAS! My teammates and coaches had a lot of energy the whole week ! #compete #notime2sleep A photo posted by terrellepryor (@terrellepryor) on
Many may remember Terrelle Pryor as the failed quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, who was taken in the supplemental draft a few years ago. However, Pryor’s hectic NFL career started with controversy: commissioner Roger Goodell suspended the player for his NCAA infractions — the first time this was done in the history of the NFL. Yet before this monumental event, the Ohio State star was on the rise as a sophomore, leading Ohio State to another Big Ten Championship: even securing the honor of being 2010s Rose Bowl MVP. But soon after, rumors began to swirl that Ohio State was going to be hit with a huge sanction and the program was hit hard.
In December 2010, five players were suspended for selling memorabilia and for getting discounts on tattoos: and the sentence, the first five games of the next season. These allegations, along with the eventual media coverage, resulted in the resignation of head coach Jim Tressel. Following this, Pryor decided to withdraw from the University, thus allowing him to declare for the supplemental draft, which then resulted in a lackluster career.
2) Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
A photo posted by Johnny Manziel (@jmanziel2) on
Officially the shortest suspension on this list, Johnny Manziel aka Johnny Football garnered national attention when it was alleged he received compensation for autographs. The news about this violation started to percolate in early August 2013, with many suspecting Manziel to sit out a good portion of the season. However, after an extensive investigation and a thorough interview with the athlete himself, Manziel was only suspended for the first half of Texas A&M’s bout against the Rice Owls.
The specific reasoning for the short sentence was for violating NCAA bylaw 220.127.116.11, which states an athlete cannot “accept any remuneration for or permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind.” But do not worry; this will not be the last time uSports or America talks about Johnny Football, who despite his second string status still remains in the media spotlight.
1) Brian ‘The Boz’ Bosworth (LB, Oklahoma)
The original sensationalized athlete, Brian ‘The Boz’ Bosworth became a cultural icon in the 1980s while playing for the Oklahoma Sooners. Most commonly known for his cartoony haircut and loud mouth style, he was one of the first college athletes to market himself as an icon: but more importantly, he had the play to back up the talk. Now, ‘The Boz’ is the only player on this list to not play in the 2000s nor was he suspended for monetary reasons.
In fact, Bosworth’s loud mouth appearance clashed with the way the NCAA liked to carry business: thus putting a large bulls eye on his back. So in his Senior season, the famous athlete was suspended for steroids — a substance that was a large part of the 80s football sub-culture. Bosworth, who admitted to taking steroids in the past, stated that he was off the substance for quite some time — supposedly Barry Spitzer even drug tested Brian after the initial suspension, which came out negative. To this day, it is unknown if the NCAA directly went after the athlete or if Bosworth was indeed a habitual steroid taker. Either way, this was one of the first high-profile suspensions in college football history: and the resulting news coverage set precedence for sports journalism for years to come.