Marcus Smart wins the award for "Most Sincere" apology.
Mark D. Smith/Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Last Thursday, five days after he said them, Texas linebacker Steve Edmond issued an apology for incendiary comments about conference rival Baylor, who beat the Longhorns in a winner-take-all game for the Big 12 title at the end of the 2013 season.
It seemed a little unnecessary and oddly timed, until the Big 12 dropped a devastating PUBLIC REPRIMAND the following day.
It all felt a little "go through the motions because we have to" after the firestorm had mostly died down following a "Don’t do that, son" from Texas coach Charlie Strong and an "I’m having trouble caring about this with all my Big 12 title hardware lying around" from Baylor coach Art Briles.
It got me thinking, though. And we all know that only leads to trouble. At the suggestion of at least one Twitterati, I dug through the history books to put together a ranking of the greatest apologies in Big 12 history.
All scoring is on a 10-point scale.
Let’s get to it.
February 2014: Marcus Smart to Texas Tech superfan Jeff Orr and the impressionable children of America
His transgression: Pushing Orr as a response to a taunt, and setting off an international controversy the likes of which humanity has never seen. Reports immediately after the incident suggested Orr had used a racial slur, but Oklahoma State never officially made that claim. Orr admitted to calling Smart only a "piece of crap" and denied using any racial language.
His apology: To Smart’s credit, he takes home the title of most sincere apology on this list. He took the blame and delivered an apology in person at a press conference after being suspended for three games. "This is not me. I really do apologize for it," he said. "Like I said, I take full responsibility and the consequences that come with it."
Bonus points: 5, for not using whatever Orr said as an excuse
TOTAL POINTS: 25
February 2013: Everyone involved in KU’s 108-96 overtime win over Iowa State to everyone involved in KU’s 108-96 overtime win over Iowa State
Their (many) transgressions: Let me take a deep breath, because this game left a wave of apologies the world may never see again. Officials blew a crucial call late that went against ISU. Guard Elijah Johnson broke an unwritten rule of the game and rather than running out the clock, dunked as the buzzer sounded on the Jayhawks’ victory, completing his 39-point night. One Iowa State fan later ran onto the court and charged after KU coach Bill Self, who was doing a television interview. He was held back by security, which produced this amazing photo. ISU fans also harassed and threatened Johnson on social for his dunk.
Their (many) apologies: The Big 12 apologized for the call. Johnson apologized for dunking in the postgame press conference. Iowa State’s student government later sent Self and KU a letter apologizing for the actions of the lone fan and the fan base as a whole.
The Iowa State student body has responded in a way that left no doubt where they stood on the things that were said and the issues and that is good enough for me," Self said. "Unfortunately, there are idiots around in all different areas, and that should not take away from the people that were at the game that cheered their team on and did it wholeheartedly."
Bonus points: 5, for making my head spin and 4 for the ISU kids going above and beyond what was required.
TOTAL POINTS: 24
November 2004: Former Kansas coach Mark Mangino to the Big 12
His transgression: Alleged that Big 12 officials favored Texas in a 27-23 loss. He took offense to an offensive pass interference call that kept Texas’ hopes for a BCS title alive, which would bring more money to the Big 12. "You know what this is about, right?" he said. "BCS. That’s what made a difference in the game today. That’s what made a difference in the call in front of their bench. Dollar signs."
His apology: Mangino met with reporters the next day and apologized profusely. I bought his "heat of the moment" card. "I don’t believe in those remarks, and I’m not going to make any excuses, either. I should not have made those remarks because I don’t believe it," he said. "I regret it. I was trying to comfort our players, and I spoke out of line. That was not the way to do it."
Sincerity: 7. Loses points for saying "If I’ve offended anybody, I truly apologize for that." That’s a pet peeve.
Extra points: 8, for being the only one on this list with the gumption to allege a league-wide conspiracy in a postgame press conference.
TOTAL SCORE: 22
September 2006: Pac-10 officials to Oklahoma
Their transgression: Costing Oklahoma a game on one of the worst officiating screwups in college football history. The Sooners led 33-27 with just over a minute to play and recovered an onside kick to essentially seal the game. However, there was a mixup in the pile on the ball and officials inexplicably gave Oregon the ball, despite a Sooner walking around the pile with possession of the ball. Relive the insanity here. The absurdity still astounds me. Oregon took possession and scored to win the game.
Their apology: The Pac-10 suspended the officiating crew and issued a strongly worded apology to the Sooners. "The fact that the errors on the onside kick altered the outcome of the game is most unfortunate and unsettling," former Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen said in a statement. "Errors clearly were made and not corrected, and for that we apologize to the University of Oklahoma, coach Bob Stoops and his players. They played an outstanding college football game, as did Oregon, and it is regrettable that the outcome of the contest was affected by the officiating."
Stoop was predictably not pleased.
"At least they have reacted to it and tried. Truly there can be no amends to it and it can’t be corrected," he said.
Bonus points: 5, for creating college football history in the most infamous manner possible, short of physical violence
TOTAL POINTS: 21
June 2010: Former Texas A&M AD Bill Byrne to A&M Fan
His transgression: Responding to an angry, profane e-mail from a fan with a voicemail. "Please call me. Someone who has no guts to write something like that needs to have his a– kicked, so Iâd like to hear from you," Byrne said. "Thank you. Bye-bye."
His apology: Byrne kept it real. "Iâm a very competitive person and like many of you, I was raised not to back down when challenged," he said. "Iâve also got a bit of an Irish temper, which came across in my voicemail. I regretted what I said as soon as I hung up."
Bonus points: 15. Show me where Byrne said something factually incorrect, and I’ll show you a liar.
TOTAL POINTS: 20.
September 2013: Oklahoma State AD Mike Holder to the Big 12 ADs
His transgression: Well, not a whole lot, it turns out. Holder was worried of what an oncoming Sports Illustrated expose might say, so he felt the need to apologize for what his colleagues would soon be reading. There was very little fallout from the piece, which alleged widespread academic fraud, player payments, drug use, sex and players being tossed aside when they could no longer play and serve the program. The piece’s impact suffered from sources used in the story later denying their allegations, a lack of verifiable evidence, concerns about the objectivity of one of the reporters and the fact that many of the allegations had occurred up to a decade prior to the story’s publish date.
His apology: Days before the five-part "expose" was set for release, Holder took questions at a podium and sounded legitimately concerned. He also made it clear OSU contacted the NCAA and launched its own investigation.
Bonus points: 7, for coach Mike Gundy saying a few months later that the hubbub surrounding the piece actually helped recruiting.
TOTAL SCORE: 19
November 2012: Former Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville to graduate assistant Kevin Oliver
What he did: Ripped the headset off Oliver’s head in full view of television cameras after a special teams mixup in a win over Kansas. Originally, the incident looked like Tuberville had struck the coach, and he didn’t help himself when after the game, he told reporters he meant to reach for Oliver’s shoulder to get him off the field, an explanation that made zero sense in light of the video and reeked of a cover-up.
What his apology was like: Tuberville apologized to Oliver personally and said watching the film of the incident after he got home "upset" him. "You don’t do things like that, and it was obvious I reached up, grabbed his headset and pulled on it," Tuberville said. "Heat of the battle, some things happen, and sometimes you’d like to take back. I can’t remember anything like that happening to me.
Sincerity: 6. He refused to ever talk about his original explanation.
Bonus points: 4, for the odd fallout and this rant against the local media the next time he met with them. "I think you know me a lot better than that," he said. "I can understand somebody in L.A. or California doing it and making some kind of statement like that by watching the film, but I never thought about it in 35 years. Never dreamed of hitting anybody and never have. So we’ll just leave it at that. That’s also disappointing to me that that would be written here in this town, but we’ll get on with it."
TOTAL POINTS: 19
October 2013: Texas WR Mike Davis to Iowa State DB Deon Broomfield
His transgression: Dove at Broomfield’s knees near the end of a play in Texas’ win over Iowa State, with the action taking place on the far side of the field.
His apology: At least it was a better trilogy than Star Wars Episodes I, II and III. Davis originally took to Twitter and defended his play, saying he plays "to the whistle." "Sorry I was taught that," he wrote. Later, he didn’t seem to mind the Big 12 reprimanding him. "If we have another run-pass situation, I’d do the same thing," he said. "If a DB’s loafing, he deserves to get cut."
Necessity: 9. That hit could have seriously injured Broomfield.
Bonus points: 8, for perseverance.
TOTAL POINTS: 18
March 2010: Baylor’s Brittney Griner to Texas Tech’s Jordan Barncastle, the entire game of women’s basketball
Her transgression: Griner got tangled with Barncastle in the paint, and Barncastle eventually threw Griner off her toward the goal. Both players stayed on their feet, but Griner responded with a right-handed haymaker to Barncastle’s face, bloodying her nose.
Her apology: Griner released a joint statement with coach Kim Mulkey, saying she let her emotions get the best of her.
Sincerity: 7, Griner and Barncastle had been jostling all night before the punch. Griner’s frustration had built up before that moment, and during a competition, she did let her emotion get the best of her. She’s one of the game’s all-time greats, and had to deal with a lot of physical play others didn’t. That night was a black eye on one of the greatest careers ever, but I got a sense she understood that almost immediately after the punch.
Bonus points: 0. If you’re going to punch someone, don’t do it and then back away. That’s Day 1 stuff.
TOTAL POINTS: 17
Bo Pelini to anyone and everyone, including America’s impressionable youth
His transgression: Chasing down officials after a 9-6 loss to Texas A&M and screaming at them face-to-face. Also, he gave quarterback Taylor Martinez a brutal tongue-lashing on the sidelines, grabbing him by the shoulder pads and poking his finger into his chest after Martinez reportedly took a cell phone call from his father in the locker room while he was getting an injury looked at.
His apology: Rumors surfaced the day after the loss that Martinez had quit the team, but Pelini shot them down and apologized after a stern rebuke from chancellor Harvey Perlman and a sit down with then-AD Tom Osborne. "I always believe it’s OK to disagree with a call," Pelini said. "It’s not OK to make it personal. At times during that game, probably in my quest to fight for the kids on our football team, I let it get personal. For that, once again, I’m sorry. I regret that."
Bonus points: 4, for carrying over to Sunday what I’d call my most memorable night ever as a sportswriter. Covering that atmosphere and insanity of questionable calls late and Texas A&M playing for "Big 12 pride" in what history transformed into hysterical irony as the Huskers finished a farewell tour in the league was the kind of stuff that makes this job so fun.
TOTAL POINTS: 16
February 2014: TCU assistant AD Greg Featherston to Texas A&M, humanity
His transgression: Being an insensitive oaf on Facebook. Texas A&M announced plans to leave 12 seats open in its new stadium to honor the 12 people killed in the bonfire tragedy of 1999. Featherston reposted a message he said he didn’t write but "could have." An excerpt: If the number of students that were victims of what amounted to drunken, negligent homicide on the part of that cow college didnât match so perfectly with the cultâs favorite number, I doubt you would have seen anything like this done.
His apology: Featherston fittingly posted it to Facebook, calling his actions a "lapse of judgment and "in bad taste." Yeah, I’d say the victims’ families would agree. He later resigned his position "for the betterment of TCU."
Bonus points: Yeah, right.
TOTAL POINTS: 14
February 2014: Texas Tech superfan Jeff Orr to Marcus Smart, Texas Tech, Tubby Smith, America
His transgression: Yelling something derogatory at Oklahoma State star Marcus Smart, who responded by pushing Orr. Early reports indicated it could have been of a racial nature, but Orr admitted to calling Smart a "piece of crap" and Texas Tech released video supporting his admission.
Sincerity: 3. Orr had already been caught on camera before issuing a naughty gesture to a Texas A&M player. One would think a middle-aged man could learn his lesson. Or grow up.
Bonus points: 1, for pairing his apology with actual consequences, whether self-imposed or accepted with a shove in the right direction from Texas Tech brass.
TOTAL POINTS: 13
April 2014: Texas linebacker Steve Edmond to Baylor
What he did: Ripped on Baylor for celebrating its first Big 12 title ever too hard after saying "Baylor sucks" and that the Bears were "trash." "I’m mad as I can be. I knew we were a better team than they were," Edmond said. "Baylor gets the win and acts like they had never won before. Even in high school, you know how to react when you win a game. It’s not like you never won a game. I’m like, ‘They won it, so what?’ They still suck to me."
What his apology was like: He issued a statement through the university that felt pretty rigid. "I need to apologize for what I said about the Baylor program last week. I respect them for everything they’ve accomplished," he said. "I’ve been so frustrated over not being able to play in last year’s game and our loss to them that I let all that anger build up and get the best of me. I won’t let that happen again."
Bonus points: 3, for prompting a hilarious response from Baylor coach Art Briles. "Well that’s all right. I mean, shoot, everybody’s entitled to their opinion," he said. "I wasn’t particularly pleased at some of the places we weren’t victorious, either,"
TOTAL SCORE: 11
November 2010: Nebraska DC Carl Pelini to TexAgs.com, other generally offended folks
His transgression: In the midst of an Aggies’ field storming after a 9-6 slugfest, Pelini encountered TexAgs a cameraman and grabbed his camera, yanking it down and breaking off a piece of plastic from the piece of equipment. This, of course, was all caught on said camera. I’m not sure Pelini thought that one through.
His apology: Pelini and his brother, head coach Bo, called the TexAgs staff to apologize and issued a statement of apology later. "It was a very emotional situation and the mob scene on the field after the game amplified that," Pelini said. "Having been involved in a similar situation in 2003 at Missouri, and in witnessing the situation on the field, I made a poor decision in trying to prevent a reporter from recording the scene. I have acknowledged this from the very beginning. Unfortunately, in trying to prevent a scene, I created one." Uh, right.
Bonus points: 2. A knucklehead reaction deserves a knucklehead explanation/apology, I suppose.
TOTAL POINTS: 11
July 2013: Kansas State LB Tre Walker to Texas coach Mack Brown
His transgression: Talked a little mild trash at Big 12 Media Days. "They kind of laid down a little bit. That’s nothing to say about their character. That’s just what they do," he said of K-State’s 42-24 win over Texas to clinch the Big 12 title. Walker, by the way, didn’t play in that game because of a knee injury.
His apology: Walker went out of his way to call Texas coach Mack Brown and apologize, but the damage had been done and the dreaded bulletin board material provided. "I told him I totally understood," Brown said. "He’s a great player."
Bonus points: 0, because K-State lost its game against Texas two months later, giving the Longhorns their first win over K-State since 2003.
TOTAL POINTS: 10
July 2010: Tommy Tuberville to the Big 12
His transgression: Going on the radio and stating his belief he didn’t think the Big 12 "will last long" because of unequal revenue sharing.
His apology: Well, he never actually apologized publically. Former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe gave him the infamous "public reprimand" and stated that Tuberville "admitted that his comments do not reflect his true feelings."
Right. Tuberville’s opinion isn’t an unreasonable one, but for a league that had real stability issues at the time, saying so publicly wasn’t a good idea for one of its higher-profile coaches.
Bonus points: 2, for giving me a chance to write about Dan Beebe again this week
TOTAL POINTS: 10
October 2012: Big 12 head of officials Walt Anderson to Oklahoma State
His transgression: His officials botched a call late in an OSU loss to Texas. Officials didn’t see Longhorns running back Joe Bergeron fumble before he crossed the goal-line on a go-ahead touchdown in the final minute. It was a tough call. I was actually standing on the goal line staring right at the play as it happened, and I don’t blame officials for missing it. Seeing fumbles in that kind of scrum is extremely difficult. Even on a perfect angle in slow motion, it’s difficult to see.
His apology: Unofficial. The Oklahoma reported Anderson "apologized profusely" for the mistake, but the Big 12 went out of its way to issue a statement denying the apology ever happened. We may never know what actually went down,
Bonus points: 3, for being the only apology on the list that comes with a public denial of said apology.
TOTAL SCORE: 9
October 2009: Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach non-apology to his players’ "fat little girlfriends."
What he did: In a press conference following a 52-30 loss to Texas A&M, Leach said his players were listening too much to their âfat little old girlfriendsâ telling them âhow great you are."
His apology: Non-existent. Two days later, he was asked if he would apologize. "No, Iâm not apologizing to any of them,â Leach said. âAbsolutely not … as coaches we failed to make our coaching points and our points more compelling than their fat little girlfriends. Now, their fat little girlfriends have some obvious advantages. For one, their fat little girlfriends are telling them what they want to hear, which is how great you are and how easy itâs going to be.â
He continued: "As coaches we have to solve our failure on reaching them, and the players have to listen. I am willing to go to fairly amazing lengths to make that happen. I donât know if I will be successful this week or not, but I am going to try, and there will be some people inconvenienced, and it happens to be their fat little girlfriends."
Bonus points: 0. I loved most of Leach’s rants, but this one was too mean for my taste.