Most controversial college football players of the last decade
With great skill comes great controversy.
At least that’s how things are in college football. And it seems that most of that controversy follows the quarterbacks.
Here are the five most controversial college football players from the last 10 years:
5. FLORIDA QB TIM TEBOW
Tim Tebow’s college career was outstanding. In his four years as a Gator, he was 661 of 995 for 9,285 yards and 88 TDs. On the ground, he has 692 carries for 2,947 yards and 57 INTs. He had only 16 INTs in his time at Florida.
In 2007, Tebow became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, and he finished third in 2008. He also led his team to a national championship in 2008 and played a role on the 2006 national championship team.
He was an exceptional player and an outstanding student, and therein was the controversy. Tebow’s Christianity was prevalent in his career, and he was always very vocal about his beliefs. Even more astonishing to America was how vocal he was about his virginity.
Even when he didn’t speak, he made waves. After every touchdown, Tebow’s signature move was to get down on one knee and pray. Before there was “dabbing,” there was “Tebowing.”
4. NOTRE DAME LB MANTI TE’O
Manti Te’o was having a heck of a year in South Bend. He had risen through the ranks to become one of the nation’s top defensive players, and he was arguably the best player to ever come out of Hawaii. He was in the running for Heisman, he was building on 113 tackles, and he had a hot girlfriend who loved him.
Wait, that last part wasn’t true. But he thought it was. Or did he? There’s still confusion as to whether or not he was in on the hoax.
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Notre Dame was well into its national championship run and about to play Michigan State, when Te’o learned his grandmother and his “girlfriend” had passed away within hours of each other. But Te’o set aside his heartbreak and played a big game against the Spartans.
About two months later, Te’o claims he received a call from his “girlfriend” who is apparently not dead. And as it turns out, his “girlfriend” was really more of a guy.
If you thought “Tebowing” caught fire, you should’ve seen all the “Te’oing” that ensued. There was no end to the jokes of Te’o getting catfished.
3. FLORIDA/AUBURN QB CAM NEWTON
Cam Newton spent two years as a Gator and one in junior college, but his numbers didn’t come close to what he had in his single year with Auburn. In 2010, Newton completed 185 of 280 passes for 2,854 yards and 30 TDs. He also carried the ball 264 times for 1,473 yards and 20 TDs.
He led the Tigers to a national championship win over Oregon, and he picked up the Heisman on the way.
The controversy, though, was in how he got there.
After playing second fiddle to Tebow for a while, Newton was reportedly caught cheating on three separate occasions, and he was arrested for buying a stolen computer. Rather than sticking around for the hearing, Newton transferred to Blinn Community College for a year before heading to Auburn.
His entrance on the plains was also dipped in drama. Talk of Newton and his father soliciting $200,000 or best offer from both Auburn and Mississippi State swirled, though the NCAA eventually found Newton was not guilty of any major violations.
The controversy surrounding Newton continues today. Though his talent abounds, he is often seen as bratty or egotistical in the NFL.
2. FLORIDA STATE QB JAMEIS WINSTON
There is no denying that Jameis Winston was filled to the brim with talent. In just two years, he was 562 of 851 for 7,964 yards and 65 TDs. In 2013, he won the Heisman and led the Seminoles to a national championship.
However, with his success came the cockiness and controversy. In 2014, Winston was cited for shoplifting crab legs from a local Publix. Luckily for him, it was just a citation rather than an arrest.
Unluckily for him was that it followed an allegation of raping another FSU student. That case was settled by Florida State officials in January of this year for $950,000.
1. TEXAS A&M QB JOHNNY MANZIEL
Where do we even start with Johnny Manziel?
He hit the field hot as a sophomore in 2012, completing 295 of 434 passes for 3,706 yards and 26 TDs. On the ground, Manziel danced around defenses with 201 carries for 1,410 yards and 21 TDs. He won the Heisman, but his Aggies didn’t make it to the championship.
We all know the drama that has followed Johnny Football around in Cleveland (and Vegas), but we sometimes forget that it all began in College Station.
Manziel has dealt with drinking issues, rehab, bar fights, domestic abuse accusations, poorly-timed tweets, issues with authority, too much partying, etc. Check out Sports Illustrated’s Manziel timeline from College Station to Cleveland for the full scope.