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College Sports' 15 Biggest Villains Of The 21st Century

The term 'hero' probably gets thrown around a little too much when referencing star athletes. For better or for worse, it's now a part of our collective vocabulary. But if we're going to have heroes, we have to also have villains, right?

It should be noted that 'villain' does not imply bad person. It merely suggests that an athlete or coach was the source of anger or envy for many fans.

In the 21st century, college sports’ most notorious villains reached unprecedented heights of infamy. This is mostly thanks to expanded regional coverage and rampant social media use. They've all seen success in some form or another - often times at the highest level. Here are the 15 biggest villains of them all:

Get Started: No. 15 - Steve Spurrier >>>

15. Steve Spurrier

The 'Ol Ball Coach is one of the most popular coaches in college sports, but he's also one of its most notorious villains. Spurrier is labeled as a villain for a few reasons. The first is that he's been an incredibly successful head coach. He's won a national title as well as seven combined conference championships between the ACC and SEC. The man knows how to win.

The other stems from the fact that he always speaks his mind, and often takes shots at rivals in the process. He nicknamed Florida State "Free Shoes University" and once said "You can't spell Citrus without U-T", clearly poking fun at Tennessee for being the second-best team in the conference. Since he's been at South Carolina, he's gone after Dabo Swinney and Clemson numerous times. He's a national treasure - unless you're a fan of one of his rivals.

Next: No. 14 - Marshall Henderson >>>

14. Marshall Henderson

Henderson burst onto the college basketball scene two years ago, averaging over 20 points per game for Ole Miss in his first season with the Rebels (he transferred three times before getting to Oxford). He was as cocky as humanly possible. Whenever he hit a big shot against a rival, he let their fans know about it.

Henderson was one of the rare villains who actually knew he was a villain. That is why people hated him even more when he had success. He also made insensitive comments about playing basketball in Afghanistan strapped to a bomb and Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend (later backpedaling). There are plenty of reasons that fans weren't upset when his eligibility ran up last year.

Next: No. 13 - Eric Devendorf >>>

13. Eric Devendorf

Eric Devendorf was actually one of the most talented guards to ever put on a Syracuse jersey - and that's saying something. But there's no doubt that his attitude held him back from being much more successful. It also made him a target for fans of opposing teams.

Devendorf, who was similar to Henderson when it came to trash-talking the opposition, also had one huge legal issue. In December of 2008, he was suspended by the university after he was accused of striking a female in the face during an altercation in November. He was eventually reinstated after completing community service, but college basketball fans, who already disliked him, weren't impressed.

He's probably most famous for his gloating reaction after hitting what he thought was the game-winner against UConn in the famous six-overtime Big East Tournament game in 2009. That about sums up what people think of him. 

Next: No. 12 - Tim Tebow >>>

12. Tim Tebow

Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow won two national titles, one Heisman Trophy, an AP Player of the Year award and was a three-time first-team All-SEC selection. He had zero off-the-field issues, and, from all we've heard, was a great teammate. How could someone like that be a villain? This one is complicated.

From the moment Tebow began his college career, all everyone seemed to want to talk about was how he'd fare in the NFL. His throwing motion, scouts said, was a huge issue. His passion, others argued, would be enough to earn him a spot on a roster. Both were right in the end, but for four years, the media followed his every move. Fans grew tired of hearing about him.

His squeaky-clean image was also a point of contention, somehow. Some argued that it was an act. Others said he was one of a kind. And once he got to the NFL, the coverage became too much to handle. "Tebow-mania" is mostly over now that he's moved on to the next phase of his career, and there are a whole lot of people who are happy about that.

Next: No. 11 - Bobby Petrino >>>

11. Bobby Petrino

Bobby Petrino was the head coach at Louisville from 2003 to 2006. He's also the head coach of the Cardinals right now. But in between, he had a few issues, to say the least.

Petrino left Louisville to coach the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 - coincidentally the same year that Michael Vick was charged with illegal dog fighting and banned from the NFL. Petrino quit on his team after 13 games by posting a laminated note in each of their lockers. He took a job as the head coach at Arkansas immediately after.

With the Razorbacks, Petrino actually did a nice job of turning the team into an SEC contender. But in April of 2012, he was severely injured in a motorcycle crash and was forced to reveal that he'd been cheating on his wife with a former Arkansas volleyball player named Jessica Dorrell, who he'd recently hired. Petrino was fired a week later.

Petrino has done a nice job resurrecting his career, but he can't erase a number of troubling things from his past.

Next: No. 10 - Maurice Clarett >>>

10. Maurice Clarett 

Clarett came out of nowhere to take the college football world by storm in 2002. As a freshman he led the Buckeyes to a national title and was one of the most dynamic players in team history. But unfortunately, the glory days didn't last very long.

During the following offseason, he let his newfound fame go to his head and caused enough trouble to be suspended by the university for the entire 2003 season. Shortly after that, he filed a false police report, dropped out of Ohio State and began living a troubled lifestyle. He eventually challenged the NFL's draft eligibility rules (and lost), but was drafted a year later by the Denver Broncos.

After not making the Broncos' roster, Clarett ran into numerous legal issues, eventually landing himself in jail. He's begun to turn his life around, but he's still looked at as one of the most controversial college football figures of the 21st century.

Next: No. 9 - Jim Tressel >>>

9. Jim Tressel

The second Buckeye in a row is none other than the sweater vest himself, Jim Tressel. While he was extremely successful during his run at Ohio State, he was eventually forced to resign after it was made clear that he'd kept a few secrets for players.

A number of Ohio State's athletes had been engaging in a tattoos-for-OSU-memorabilia trade (reportedly as far back as 2002) that was against NCAA rules. Tressel supposedly knew about it, but kept quiet, given the potential ramifications. It didn't work out so well in the end. After an investigation that involved the NCAA and the FBI, Tressel stepped down in May of 2011.

Ohio State was eventually hit with a one-year bowl ban as well, which fans were absolutely livid about. The Buckeyes went 12-0 that season but were ineligible for the Big Ten title contest or a BCS bowl game. 

Next: No. 8 - Joakim Noah >>>

8. Joakim Noah

Noah played the game of basketball the right way, with passion and non-stop hustle. He was the type of player who fans love to have on their team, but hate when he's playing for the opposition. Despite just seeming to focus on fundamentals, he rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

He often played with a ton of emotion and was accused of playing dirty at times. He was also part of a team that won back-to-back NCAA championships, so there was plenty to work with on that front as well. 

Lastly, his look was an issue for people. He almost always had some form of a pony tail, along with patches of facial hair that weren't well-kempt. He just wasn't a popular guy - at least outside the state of Florida.

Next: No. 7 - Urban Meyer >>>

7. Urban Meyer

College football coaches do not get much more universally disliked than Urban Meyer. While at Florida, he led the Gators to two BCS national titles and coached one the most polarizing players in football history - Tim Tebow. But at this point, Gators fans don't even like him. He cited poor health as the reason he left Florida, but many have expressed doubt about the legitimacy of that claim. Some think he was just trying to get out of a mess that he himself created.

After a short stint in broadcasting, he has since become the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, another program that comes with a hefty amount of built-in hate. Many people believe that he has a win-at-all-costs approach, and that anywhere he lands is eventually doomed.

All signs point to him continuing to be one of college football's biggest villains for the next few decades. 

Next: No. 6 - Tyler Hansbrough >>>

6. Tyler Hansbrough

The famous Tar Heel known as "Psycho-T" received quite a bit of hate in his time in Chapel Hill - and not just from Duke fans. Hansbrough played the game of basketball with an unquestioned amount of intensity. But some maintained that he was a flopper and was emotionally unstable.

Regardless if any of that was true, he did lead North Carolina to an NCAA title and nothing inspires as much hate as success. He's a bit similar to Tim Tebow in the sense that he had no off-the-court issues, but he's been a little more successful in the pros than the former Gators star.

Bottom line - Hansbrough was a hustle guy you wanted on your team. If he wasn't, you couldn't stand how all-over-the-place he was.

Next: No. 5 - Cam Newton >>>

5. Cam Newton

Cam Newton has been a model citizen in the NFL, but the same cannot be said for his college years. He began his career at Florida, but was suspended during his sophomore campaign for allegedly stealing a laptop computer. He later transferred.

After playing JUCO for a year, Newton chose to play the 2010 college football season with the Auburn Tigers and put together one of the finest campaigns ever by a quarterback from the SEC. He won the Heisman Trophy, led Auburn to a 14-0 record, and won the BCS National Championship. 

But the controversy surrounding his eligibility and possible "pay-to-play" recruiting violations led to him being one of the most controversial players in recent history. Many believe that Newton's family was paid for his services, despite no credible evidence coming to light. It remains a hot topic to this day.

Next: No. 4 - Nick Saban >>>

4. Nick Saban

Nick Saban, the Alabama Crimson Tide's head coach, is one of the most envied coaches in college football history. Simply put, the man knows how to coach football at an elite level. He's won four national titles since 2003 (three at Alabama, one at LSU) and twice has been named the AP National Coach of the Year - resumes do not get stronger than that. All of that success has made him a target, of course.

His personality is part of the issue - he's stern, rarely laughs, and is often rude to reporters. He's about as serious as they come. That rubs some people the wrong way.

But more so, he's the type of villain who just represents the big, bad bully. He dominates recruiting. His teams dominate on the field. Opposing squads often feel that they have no chance to beat him. Honestly, they usually don't.

Next: No. 3 - John Calipari >>>

3. John Calipari

John Calipari is one of the best recruiters in the history of college basketball. Oh and he's a pretty good coach, too. In 2012 he won an NCAA title with a team made up of primarily freshmen. But he's also a very controversial figure - he's had Final Four runs with both UMass and Memphis vacated.

Some label him as a cheater, while others dislike his personality. He once said, "We don’t just play college basketball, we are college basketball" about Kentucky's program. Still curious as to why he's on this list? It's safe to say that there isn't a more universally disliked coach in all of college basketball.

And true to the villain archetype, he absolutely loves that fact. 

Next: No. 2 - Johnny Manziel >>>

2. Johnny Manziel

"Johnny Football" was the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy. And before Jameis Winston came along, he was also the most controversial. Before the 2012 season even started, Manziel was arrested for three misdemeanor violations. 

As Manziel became more and more successful during that campaign, the media started paying more and more attention to his antics. He was flashy on the field. He was cocky. He partied a ton. He even started making friends with superstars like Drake and LeBron James. The whole year was an absolute circus. His second, which was also his last, was just as insane.

One of Manziel's most vocal haters was former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer, who said, "I don't like Johnny Manziel's antics. I think he's an arrogant little prick." A lot of people would probably agree.

Next: No. 1 ??? >>>

1. Jameis Winston

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner is quite possibly the biggest villain of all-time in college sports. 

Winston led the Seminoles to a BCS national title victory in 2013, capping off an incredible undefeated season. Yet he seemingly bathes in controversy - he just cannot escape it. From the shenanigans of stealing crab legs, to immaturely screaming obscenities on campus, to the much more troubling allegations of sexual assault and subsequent investigations, he simply does not seem to get it. 

His latest transgression led to his suspension for the Seminoles' game against Clemson. It's safe to say that everyone outside of Tallahassee wouldn't mind seeing him lose a few games this year.

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