Forbes recently released a list of the supposed 10 most disliked athletes in sports and while the list does feature some that are kind of head scratchers like Manti Te'o (I know his situation was bizarre and over-publicized, but why the hate people?) it does feature deserving candidates like Lance Armstrong and a guy who is best known for attacking fans yet decided to name himself World Peace. Being out West and a little bit more laid back, the Pac-12 generally steers clear of most of the hating that goes on the sports world, but every conference definitely has a bit of healthy bad blood in it and we are no different out here.
So who are the most disliked figures in the Pac-12 right now?
10. Shabazz Muhammad
I don't think people genuinely dislike Muhammad himself as he seems pretty straight-forward as a player and character, but they hype and controversy around him along with the air of shadiness that has been involved with his recruitment doesn't sit well. Muhammad is basically a professional player playing college basketball and I think that is an idea that many college basketball purists have never been able to get behind.
9. Rick Neuheisel
Neuheisel was anything but forgettable during his time as a coach in the Pac-12 and if you count his time at Colorado as coaching in the Pac-12, he has coached at a quarter of the schools in the conference. So there is plenty of hate to go around. Neuheisel always seemed to walk the line between coach and politician more than just about anyone else in the history of the conference and it earned him a lot of enemies. Neuheisel drew a lot of hatred for declaring the end of the football monopoly in LA in the Los Angeles Times, but he may have never been more hated then when he was the boisterous, young coach of the Washington Huskies and was actually featured on the jumbotron at Autzen Stadium amongst a montage of people vomiting. Now a commentator for the Pac-12 Network, Neuheisel still rubs a portion of the conference's fans the wrong way.
8. Chip Kelly
Had he not recently jumped to the NFL, Kelly would probably be closer to the top spot on this list. Abrasive and short with the media, accused of shady recruiting and so utterly dominant in conference play that it is hard for opposing fans to not hate the sight of him even though most respect his genius as a football coach. The good thing for the rest of the conference now though is that they will be able to appreciate Kelly's abilities without having to get beat by him each Fall.
7. Willie Lyles
Lyles is actually beloved by non-Oregon fan bases of the Pac-12, but he has to be utterly despised by Duck fans as he is the catalysts of a multi-year investigation into Oregon's football program that has put potential sanctions in the mind of everyone associated with the program. Regardless of what you believe and how heavy the punishment of Lyles' involvement with the Ducks will eventually be, the fact that he sold the Ducks and Chip Kelly so hard down the river makes him a very unpopular guy in Eugene.
6. Bill Walton
There is no better way to gauge how disliked someone is than by seeing how many negative comments are out there about them on Facebook and Twitter and Walton is swimming in laments from Pac-12 fans who are not fans of his announcing style during basketball games. Regularly off-track, riffing on Jerry Garcia and bashing players for lack of fundamentals or hustle, Walton is unorthodox to say the least, but at least he is entertaining.
5. Larry Scott
I don't think Scott is that disliked for a commissioner, but I think it is just impossible to be the commissioner of a conference and not be hated by a good portion of the conference's fans, you actually probably aren't doing your job if you aren't. I have heard a lot of the older fans grumble about Scott's dedication to money and some have blamed him for the tough scheduling fans have faced to accommodate TV. Whether or not he is actually responsible, Scott has been blamed for the perpetual Saturday night games and the early games on days like Thursday and Friday that are very difficult for fans to get to.
4. Ben Howland
It's hard to think that Howland would be so popular so soon removed from being seen as a fairly vanilla coach who just happened to take his team to take his team to three-straight Final Fours, but Howland isn't very popular in Westwood right now with many calling for him to be fired if the Bruins don't make a solid run in the NCAA Tournament this season.
3. Lane Kiffin
It's a really bad sign when you aren't even popular with your own fan base. Kiffin's Trojans have underachieved in nearly every season he has been in LA and his brash personality with the media, particularly regarding has made him an easy target for hate. Kiffin has also been mired in controversies with ethics in football regarding deflated balls, showing up late to events and running up the score along with a healthy dose of questionable recruiting moves.
2. Phil Knight
Since Oregon's breakout Rose Bowl season in 1994, Knight has pretty much made his personal mission to make Oregon not only a football powerhouse, but also a cutting edge program that utilizes marketing more than other program in the country and it hasn't won him any fans in the Pac-12 outside of Eugene. Many already weren't Knight fans due to questionable ethics of Nike, but the millions he has showered Oregon with and the his hyper-marketing initiatives and corporate presence have upset many traditional Pac-12 fans. The fact that he has in fact played a role in Oregon's rise to dominance surely doesn't help either.
1. Jay Stricherz (And all Pac-12 officials really)
No sound may be more painful to the ears of Pac-12 football fans than that of Jay Stricherz. Pretty much all of the Pac-12 officials in both football and basketball, but I'm pretty sure that Stricherz is the most loathed of all and the fact that a lot of fans know his name off the top of their head is probably a really bad sign. You want an official to be anonymous, not infamous. I'm pretty sure many Pac-12 fans wake up in the middle of the night with Stricherz' voice saying the word "holding" on repeat in their head.