Every college kid makes at least one dumb mistake under pressure. Not every college kid has to make their mistake in front of millions of people. That said, we have no excuses for the coaches on this list.
With March Madness fast approaching, we decided to take a fond look back at the blunders and errors that likely cost thousands of fans a sizable cash windfall in their NCAA tournament office bracket pools.
Here are 10 unbelievably stupid March Madness blunders…
1. Morgan State Guy Slams Opponent
Being under the scrutiny of national television can make anyone snap, you don’t have to be special like Charlie Sheen. When this happens to us, we blow off steam by chugging whiskey then throwing up on a bouncer. Judging from video evidence, Morgan State ballers like to take their stress out by pretending they are pro wrestlers.
Down 71-47 in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, Morgan State’s Ameer Ali reaches over his shoulder and slams the Sooners’ Blake Griffin. Maybe you’ve heard of him?
Also, we don’t mean “slam” as in “slam dunk,” we mean “slam” as in “body slam.” But you can pretend we mean “slam dunk” if you want. That would be crazy ass awesome.
2. Kentucky Fields One of the Best Teams Ever, Doesn’t Play in Tournament
The 1954 Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team are rated as one of the best college basketball teams of all-time. However, they didn’t participate in the NCAA tournament in 1953 or 1954, so no one will ever know if they could’ve won any titles. In 1953, the Wildcats were forced to sit out the entire season due to a point shaving scandal.
After finishing the season 25-0 in 1954, Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp chose to skip the NCAA tournament because it ruled several Kentucky players ineligible because they had graduated the year before. Oddly enough, this wouldn’t be the biggest mistake the Kentucky basketball program made, as they are on this list twice. It’s almost as if putting rich moneyball execs in charge of teenagers breeds scandal.
3. Minnesota Loses Everything for Literally not Doing Homework
Minnesota has never been known as a basketball school. So, when the team saw immediate success under coach Clem Haskins, everyone was surprised. Nothing was more surprising or uplifting for the program than its historic 1997 Final Four run.
However, the school had to forfeit that success and all of their postseason wins from 1994-1999. Showing a rare, and perhaps overabundant, display of reticence, Minnesota returned almost all of the money they made from their postseason appearances, and voluntarily sat out four players during their next NCAA Tournament game. An approach so Samaritan it’s almost Canadian, just like Minnesota. Why? Mainly because Haskins paid a guy to do the team’s homework. Why couldn’t he just give all their homework to the free student tutors like every other college?
4. Chris Webber Loses Championship on Illegal Time Out
In 1993, Webber’s Michigan Wolverines were down by two in the title game. With seconds to play, Chris Webber dribbles to the baseline and responds to a double-team with a skillful “time-out” maneuver. However, his team was out of time-outs, so Webber was awarded with a technical foul. This turned their winning opportunity into a title loss.
Oddly enough, this mistake prevented the NCAA from having to make a very difficult decision. A huge scandal forced Michigan to vacate its Final Two run, had they won the championship the NCAA would have had to consider taking that away from them, too.
5. Michigan Coach Fired Before Tourney Starts
Michigan makes this list twice because of their ex-head coach, Bill Frieder. In 1989, before the NCAA tournament, Frieder agreed to a contract with Arizona State. Even though Frieder was scheduled to coach Michigan in the 1989 tournament, fiercely loyal athletic director Bo Schembechler fired him.
The 1989 Michigan Wolverines went on to win the championship under interim coach Steve Fisher. Which proves when one guy pulls a dick move, the most effective response is a counter-dick move.
6. Baylor’s All-Star Team Dismantled
Baylor University pushed hard to get its men’s basketball program deep into the NCAA tournament. It went out of its way to recruit rising stars, to the point where they would nab stars from other schools even if it meant sitting them for a year. Methodically, Baylor assembled a formidable team, poised to take a run at the 2003-04 title.
However, it all fell apart when it was revealed that Baylor had repeatedly violated rules in their mad pursuit of a strong season. The program was found in violation of rules concerning drug use, recruiting violations, and even paying for players’ tuition. When the coach was first investigated for that last offense, he tried to portray one of his players as a drug dealer. Later that player was slain by a teammate, which unraveled Baylor’s house of lies. The team disbanded, with three players going on to huge success at other colleges, leading them to tournament success and Final Four appearances. Baylor was put on probation until June of last year for exploiting more kids than “Diff’rent Strokes.”
7. Oglesby Ejected for Throwing Elbow, Team Loses by 3
NCAA tournament technical ejections are quite rare. It’s not unusual to see an entire tournament pass without a player committing a flagrant enough foul to warrant getting the boot. Which is why it’s so incredible that, on the same day the Murray St. guy flipped Blake Griffin, another ejection occurred.
This one was costly. Clemson’s three-point shooter Terrence Oglesby threw an elbow to the face of his Michigan defender at the beginning of the second half. The refs tossed him out of the first round of the 2009 NCAA tournament. The favored Clemson Tigers would go on to lose to the Michigan Wolverines by three points. For those of you who are too cool to follow sports, this is like Wolverine losing a fight to Tyger Tiger because he put a claw up her butt.
8. Fred Brown Passes to Opponent
In 1982, the Georgetown Hoyas had the formidable task of facing the North Carolina Tar Heels, led by James Worthy and some guy named Jordan. However, the Hoyas kept it close, and were down by three with seconds to play. From the top of the key, Fred Brown surveyed the scene, and decided to flip it back to his teammate for a deep shot. Only it wasn’t his teammate, it was James Worthy facing the wrong direction. Worthy dribbled around until the clock ran out.
Crestfallen, Fred Brown buried his face into his coach’s chest, although with his accuracy we’re surprised he didn’t bury his face in James Worthy’s chest.
This boneriffic moment does have a happy ending. Brown and coach John Thompson III would go on to take the title two years later. Let that fuel your never-ending bitterness due to every mistake you made where you never got a second chance.
9. John Calipari Refuses to Stop Being Sleazy
John Calipari has been called the sleaziest coach in college basketball. This is primarily due to not learning from his mistakes.
In 1996, Calipari coached UMass to a Final Four appearance and a stunning 35-2 season record. However, Umass’ best season was stripped from the books when it was revealed that Marcus Camby took numerous bribes. Calipari got off, and he may have been innocent. However, he should have at the very least been more wary.
So, that’s why it’s so ridiculous that Calipari’s championship-losing Memphis team got their 2008 Final Two run expunged. A player had been recruited after serving dubious S.A.T. Scores. Again, Calipari was not heavily investigated for involvement in the case.
Calipari is now a coach at the University of Kentucky. Considering their run-ins with NCAA controversy, it might be inevitable that another scandal will arise.
10. University of Kentucky Refuses to Integrate
Coach Adolph Rupp was a master of basketball, but miserable at keeping up with social progress. Rupp’s stubbornness towards integration kept the Kentucky basketball team white until 1970, six years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
In 1966, a pasty-faced Kentucky team played in the NCAA championship against Texas Western. The five starting players for Texas Western were black, the first time in history this happened in the championship game. Motivated, Texas Western rolled over the Wildcats to take the title. It’s definitely a sign of progress that teams have stopped excluding blacks and started rampantly illegally recruiting them.
It seems so many teams are pulled from the tournament retroactively, it’s hard to be sure if the team you’re watching is even eligible. Any time you have students playing for free while millions of dollars pass through greasy palms all around them, possible scandal is riper than milk from a dead cow.