Biggest Personalities in the NCAA

November 24, 2021 by Staff

For the most part, the NCAA is a tame league. Student-athletes are too busy with classes, practice, and bowl games to factor in time for too many high-profile shenanigans. Additionally, many have figures around them to guide their budding careers in terms of public relations, sponsorship deals, and that glorious NFL Draft.

But throughout professional sports, bizarre personalities tend to nab attention—especially when paired with talent. Fans love to see a star athlete on the field get candid with the public off the field.

But there’s a fine line between being Tim Rossovich-level weird and being like Tim Tebow. And not every athlete is talented at skating that line. Looking at the NCAA only, here are a few of the most delightfully crazy personalities to take the field.

Tony Mandarich
Michigan State, Offensive Tackle

Tony Mandarich may have been touted as one of the best offensive line prospects of his generation, but those looking back on the athlete may be more inclined to think he was attempting a career in hair modeling… or possibly a WWE wrestler. Though Mandarich failed to live up to expectations in the NFL, many remember him as a larger-than-life character with an aptitude for the outrageous.

Steve Taneyhill
South Carolina, Quarterback

Few quarterbacks have ever taken to mocking other teams like Steve Taneyhill (much to fans' delight). Even his extremely long mullet, which he showed off at every opportunity, seemed to be a participating aspect in his widespread trash-talking.

But Taneyhill wasn’t just any type of antagonist—he had a penchant for getting under rivals’ skins. After beating Clemson and Tennessee, he mocked their logo and team chant, respectively. In a confusing bit of showmanship, Taneyhill also made it a habit to pretend to swing a baseball bat while celebrating touchdowns.

Brian ‘The Boz’ Bosworth
Oklahoma, Linebacker

Similar to Mandarich, Bosworth had a haircut that made people stop and think—is this guy really a football player? In reality, they were both victims of the 80s. And Bosworth had way bigger scandals than a feathery haircut.

After he was suspended from the 1987 Orange Bowl, he pouted on the sidelines, wearing a shirt that read ‘National Communists Against Athletes’, which was meant to be an acronym for NCAA. He’s also remembered for an on-field stare-down with Bo Jackson, which wasn’t an isolated incident, during his first year in the NFL.

Unfortunately for ‘The Boz’, this stare-down would mark the beginning of the end. Despite being one of the most hyped players in the NCAA, he flopped in the NFL after a series of injuries plagued his first years.

Ndamukong Suh
Nebraska, Defensive End

In the NFL, Ndamukong Suh is known for his hard hits and aggressive style of play (many would call it unsportsmanlike conduct). Though he wasn’t quite as hardened during his time with the Cornhuskers, Suh was absolutely one of the most terrifying opponents that other athletes would have to face.

His sheer power, size, and spirit of invincibility don’t make him crazy… but it definitely separates him from the rest of the crowd. Most importantly, it seems that Suh was purposefully crafting this persona, as a way to get under his opponents' skins. Is it madness, or genius?

Maurice Clarett
Ohio State, Running Back

After helping lead the Buckeyes to a 14-0 season record that ended in a championship, it should be very difficult to critique Maurice Clarett—but that’s just not the case. He faced multiple issues with the Buckeyes program, which eventually led to his dismissal.

Simultaneously, he challenged the NFL’s draft eligibility rules, as he hoped to participate in the NFL Draft before being three years removed from high school. When his time in the NFL didn’t pan out, he spent time in the United Football League and with the Tiger Rugby squad of Columbus.

Clarett has since made a career of sharing his life story, which involves multiple setbacks and an encouraging recovery period. Not every character on this list has fared so well.