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The biggest fools in sports

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April 1st, 2021

We wish we were joking about some of the harebrained follies recently committed by some of the most celebrated figures in sports.

From one of the greatest NFL players in history, to two indiscreet coaches, and a notorious collegiate athletic association, let's look back on some of the biggest fools in sports in honor of April Fool’s Day.

Dabo Swinney

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney should have known better than to stoke a fire under the Ohio State Buckeyes — a team that already wanted revenge on the Tigers for narrowly beating the Buckeyes in the 2019-20 College Football Playoff semifinal. 

During the 2020 season, Swinney only added fuel to the Buckeyes' hatred. In an interview on The Rich Eisen Show, Swinney asserted that he would rather have a two-loss team in the playoff as opposed to Ohio State, who played just six games during the season (including the Big Ten Championship Game).

Because of COVID-19 issues, three of Ohio State's games were cancelled. That put the school's playoff hopes in jeopardy, because the Big Ten started its season after most Power 5 conferences had completed a third of the games on their schedule.

The Buckeyes got a bid in the playoff anyway. To double-down on his distaste for Ryan Day's team, Swinney ranked Ohio State No. 11 in the country in the final AP coaches' poll. Most of the panel's 61 coaches ranked Ohio State as a top-four team, and everyone but Swinney placed the Buckeyes in the top six.

Ohio State got the last laugh, though, when the team annihilated Clemson, 49-28, in the 2021 CFP semifinal.

The NCAA

No stranger to bad publicity, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (better known as the NCAA) endured its latest controversy because of major disparities in men's and women's basketball amenities during March Madness.

With the men's postseason taking place in Indianapolis, and the women's tournament in San Antonio, the NCAA provided each "bubble" environment with various facilities and features for players and coaches to use while participating in the Big Dance.

When Stanford University sports performance coach Ali Kershner posted a photo of the women's weight room for the NCAA tournament, all hell broke loose.

Compared to the men's tournament setup, which looked like a state-of-the-art gym, the women inherited a small set of dumbbells and yoga mats.

The disparities were further illuminated by differences in meal options, swag bag goodies, and even COVID-19 testing.

After athletes like Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, Sabrina Ionescu, and Billie Jean King condemned the NCAA, the organization issued an apology and stepped up to improve the women's tournament provisions.

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey

Speaking of COVID-19 testing, Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey went after the NCAA's testing procedures when her team got knocked out of the tournament on a foolish no-call by referees in Baylor's Elite Eight matchup with UConn.

While struggling to properly wear her facemask during her postgame presser, Mulkey suggested the NCAA should forgo COVID-19 testing during the Final Four so that the tournament would be guaranteed to reach a conclusion. 

What makes her proposal even more surprising is the fact Mulkey contracted COVID-19 during the regular season, which led to the cancellation of an earlier matchup with UConn.

No one even asked her opinion on the matter in her press conference, yet Mulkey sounded off and immediately faced a storm of scrutiny.

NHL official Tim Peel

While we're on the subject of bad officiating, Tim Peel became the prime example of what not to do while refereeing a professional hockey game.

Although make-up calls are an unspoken reality of officiating, Peel made it all too obvious, which led to his immediate firing after a Detroit Red Wings-Nashville Predators game.

Before the broadcast cut to commercial, a hot mic picked up Peel saying he wanted to get a penalty against Nashville, which he did on a questionable tripping foul.

Peel's firing stirred up debate over implicit referee bias, game management, and how the league should handle it, but ultimately, Peel should have been more aware of who was listening when he admitted to the reason behind his call.

Tom Brady

Yes, the indisputable greatest quarterback of all time can be a fool — and we're not even talking about that time he got drunk off avocado tequila.

Before Tom Brady collected his record-setting seventh Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in February, he made a mind-blowing mistake in a Week 5 Thursday Night Football matchup.

Against the Chicago Bears, a team he had previously never lost to, Brady appeared to think he had one more play left to spearhead a game-winning drive. In reality, the Bucs had just turned the ball over on downs and effectively ended the game.

For a guy with more Super Bowl titles than any other player, the error seemed unthinkable.

It didn't matter in the long run, once Brady was celebrating with the Lombardi Trophy on the Hillsborough River, but it will take a while for him to live down that fourth-down gaffe.

The New York Jets

As for a team that had far worse luck last year, the New York Jets were both the punching bag and the punchline of the NFL in 2020.

By Week 7, they were the lone team without a win and looked content to tank for Trevor Lawrence, the projected first overall draft pick in 2021.

All New York needed to do was keep losing to secure the pick, but for some unknown reason, in Week 15, the Jets showed up against the Los Angeles Rams. 

Against a future Wild Card team, New York triumphed, 23-20, which put the franchise in a tie with Jacksonville for worst record in the league. 

Then, the following week, the Jets made sure to kiss their first-round pick goodbye by winning against Cleveland.

We don't want to imply that tanking is admirable, but at that point in the season, the Jets were better off looking toward the future.

Here's hoping they get what they need to reset their franchise with the No. 2 pick.

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