5 George O’Leary – Notre Dame
You may not remember George O’Leary, but that’s to be expected since he was only Notre Dame’s head football coach for a grand total of five days. After it was revealed that the resume and biography O’Leary used to land the job were chock full of big fat lies, his dream was over before it began and he was forced to resign. It was a lesson in humility, and also taught the public that padding your resume can somehow get you all the way through the hiring process at a top tier D-1 school.
4 Mike Leach – Texas Tech
In his time as the coach of the Red Raiders, Mike Leach established himself as a bird of a different feather. His offensive schemes earned him the nickname the “Mad Scientist,” but in the end, he turned out to be a lot more mad than scientist. Leach was canned in 2009, just before Texas tech’s scheduled Alamo Bowl appearance, after it was revealed that he supposedly locked Adam James, a receiver that had sustained a concussion, in a shed for several hours at a time. However, Leach still maintains his innocence. Maybe someone should lock him a shed for a few hours and see if he cracks.
3 Bobby Petrino – Arkansas
As scandalous firings go, this one was a doozy. Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino was fired in 2012 after four years on the job when an affair with his assistant suddenly became very public. After crashing his motorcycle with a woman on the back, it was revealed that the woman was not Petrino’s wife, but was his 25-year-old assistant who was also employed by Arkansas. In the days after, it came out that the two had a long-running affair and Petrino’s sad attempts at keeping it quiet got him a quick boot.
2 Bobby Knight – Indiana
After 29 years at the helm of the Indiana basketball program, Bobby Knight’s hot-headed, chair-throwing days came to an end when he was fired in 2000 amidst reports that he had been too physical with his players. That may be putting it lightly: Knight was accused of and summarily shown in a video choking a player in 1997, and was put on a zero-tolerance probation by the school. Three years later, when reports surfaced that he had tried to teach a player “some manners” by grabbing him by the arm and demanding respect, Knight was given the axe.
1 Joe Paterno – Penn State
As Keith Jackson would say, this one is “the granddaddy of them all!” JoePa, a legend at Penn State and in college football lore, coached the Nittany Lions for an unbelievable 45 years before he was fired in late 2011. A casualty of the Jerry Sandusky molestation scandal, Paterno was let go for failing to do much of anything after hearing reports that Sandusky, a former Penn State coach, was apparently sexually violating every kid under the sun. Paterno wasn’t the guilty party, but his knowledge and lack of action were grounds enough for letting him go.