Five sports figures might like to take things back

Five sports figures might like to take things back

December 26th, 2012 by Mark Wiedmer in Sports - Columns

Bobby Petrino

It's that time of year again. Time to return that which you don't want.

For a lot of us, it's realizing that one size doesn't fit all unless it's a gift card; that even dressed out in your favorite school's colors, yard gnomes are an acquired taste; that team jerseys are best worn by those under the age of 25, preferably those with flat stomachs.

But for at least five of our better-known sports figures this year, words and deeds that couldn't be taken back led to their ousters or very warm seat cushions over the next twelve months.

Former University of Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin

Former University of Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

At No. 5 - just because no negative list in the Volunteer State would be complete without a Lane Kiffin reference - we'll log in the former Big Orange football boss for at least one of his misspeaks at Southern Cal this past autumn.

Told that Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez had voted Kiffin's Trojans No. 1 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, Kiffin replied: "I would not vote USC No. 1, I can tell you that much."

Unfortunately for Kiffin, but much to the delight of Volniacs everywhere, USA Today soon released a statement that Lane Brain indeed had voted USC No. 1.

The Volunteers' one-year wonder tried to explain that he meant he wouldn't have voted his Trojans No. 1 if he'd been an opposing coach such as Rich Rod, and had it been anyone but Kiffin, we might have believed him. But since it's Lyin' Lane, for whom the truth is often as elusive as Trojans tailbacks used to be, we'll assume the worst.

Checking in at No. 4 would be former Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen. Obtuse Ozzie torpedoed his Marlins career almost before it began by telling Time magazine in early April: "I love [Cuban dictator] Fidel Castro. I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that [expletive deleted] is still here."

Derek Dooley

Derek Dooley

Photo by The Knoxville News Sentinel /Times Free Press.

So much for attracting that massive Cuban fan base to games.

So much for Guillen, who was let go at the end of the season, at least partly because of his comments about Castro.

Former UT coach Derek Dooley earns our third spot for his late July assertion at Southeastern Conference Football Media Days that "you're not going to have Tennessee to kick around anymore."

When the Vols lit up North Carolina State and Georgia State to open the season, Dooley seemed to know what he was talking about. But then the team collapsed against Florida and lost its first seven SEC games.

UT athletic director Dave Hart pulled the plug on Dooley one game shy of his third complete season, firing him the Sunday after a three-touchdown loss to Vanderbilt.

In a move that may have said a lot about Vince's kid, Coach Orange Pants elected not to finish out the season against Kentucky, which became the Vols' only league win of the year. Coincidence ... or not.

Georgia coach Mark Richt holds down our No. 2 spot for two words he failed to utter inside the final minute of his team's SEC title-game loss to Alabama.

With the Bulldogs out of timeouts but mounting a serious charge to stun the Crimson Tide, Richt failed to yell, "Down it!" or "Clock it!" or whatever was needed to have quarterback Aaron Murray spike the ball and stop the clock.

Without that stoppage, the Bulldogs' came up 5 yards short of playing in the BCS title game against Notre Dame.

As for No. 1, former Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino pretty much locked this spot down in early April, when he crashed a motorcycle while carrying a woman who was not his wife and his four children's mother but was his mistress.

To make matters worse, he not only had given the woman a $20,000 check for Christmas but apparently convinced the Razorbacks athletic department to promote her to a prominent administrative position in the football offices over more qualified candidates.

Finally, Petrino was rung up for strike three by athletic director Jeff Long after he lied about the whole thing, which meant Bobby Pinocchio had lied his way out of a $3 million-a-year job.

And for once, the powers that be in college football turned their backs on him, mid-major Western Kentucky finally hiring him in December for $850,000 a season.

"I have played it over and over in my head a million times," Petrino told ESPN in August. "How could I do this?"

He apparently forgot he couldn't take it back.