The Bottom Ten/NCAA Week 1
By Gaylon Kent
America’s Foremost Humorist
It’s time to open the manhole cover.
Hopes are up and expectations are low, as usual, as the hemisphere’s worst college football teams duke it out for the ESPNCup, symbolic of collegiate Bottom Ten supremacy.
While the sheer depth of the past few season might be missing, the 2016 Bottom Ten campaign does welcome back two (2) 0-12 teams, not to mention Army and the entire Sun Belt conference and most of the MAC.
The opening week fiasco:
Editor’s Note: 2015 record and final Bottom Ten ranking in parenthesis.
- Kansas (0-12; Defending Bottom Ten champions)
Mitigating Factors: Defending ESPNCup champions have lost nation’s-best 15 straight…Brutal early schedule features opener against I-AA team that went 1-10 in 2015 and Week 2 tilt against usual MAC powerhouse, which could leave Jayhawks in prime position to win third Tostitos Plaque – issued to team with longest losing streak in a season that actually includes a win… Kansas has not won consecutive games against teams that finished season with winning records since 2009.
Dust In The Wind: With B-10 under their belt, Jayhawks mid-decade favorite for B-10 Team of the Decade honors, having gone 12-60 since 2010.
Opening Loss:Rhode Island
2. Cheney (0-11; 5th)
Mitigating Factors: Division II Wolves still basking in glow of triumphant 2015 campaign, expected to contend – strongly – for third straight and fourth overall Continental Cup – issued to team with longest all-division losing streak in NAFTA sphere of influence…Cheney has lost 43 straight and 77 of 81 and has gone winless ten (10) times this century…They also went winless 16 times in the last century, too.
Bound For Glory: With an 0-3 start Wolves will tie Minnesota-Morris’ all-time D-II record of 46 consecutive losses.
Opening Loss:at Lincoln (9/1)
3. Defense Department (Army: 2-11; 4th, VMI: 2-9, NR)
Mitigating Factors: Black Knights of Confusion barely miss out on 2015 B-10 medal stand berth, but do claim 8th straight Sgt Bilko Trophy – symbolic of service academy lousiness…Army expected to be severely hampered by preseason Defense Secretary ruling requiring offense – in order to gain valuable trench warfare experience – to gain only 14 inches per play in 2016.
Ten-Hut: VMI has compiled three (3) consecutive two (2) win seasons, and have not had a winning season since earliest years of Reagan Administration…Keydets expected to be so bad in 2016 Student Joint Chiefs of Staff forcing squad to play of four (4) of first five (5) games on the road, with home games scheduled for 2am on Tuesday mornings.
Opening Losses: Army: at Temple; VMI: at Akron
4. St Mary’s (0-8; NR)
Mitigating Factors: A NAFTA-mandated Canadian entry, Huskies have lost Great White North-best 16 straight and have posted two straight losing seasons, pretty good, but still a far cry from the six (6) consecutive losing season Toronto had from 2002-07, inclusive, which itself is a far cry from Tijuana Tech’s 23 straight losing seasons in mid-20th century…Poor US/Canadian exchange rate taking toll on athletic programs as Canadian fields now have two 50-yard lines and 25-yard end zones and teams now only get three plays to make a first down.
Dry, Technical Matter: The Uteck Bowl – one of the two Canadian college football national semifinal games – was named after Larry Uteck, a former Saint Mary’s athletic director…B-10 pollsters realize there was nothing funny about the previous line, they just like saying “Uteck Bowl”.
Opening Loss: at Acadia (9/10)
5. Duke (8-4; NR)
Mitigating Factors: B-10 Team of the Decade for Double Aughts gets customary preseason ranking mandated by B-10 bylaws…Bleu Devils actually have been pretty good the past few years, as B-10 Hall of Famers have not filed a losing season since 2012 and consecutive winless seasons since 2000-01.
All Is Lost: Historic 2015 season saw Duke finish year with consecutive wins for first time since 1985 and Pinstripe Bowl triumph over dreaded Indiana was first bowl win since 7-6 thrashing of Arkansas in 1961 Cotton Bowl.
Opening Loss: North Carolina Central
6. Vanderbilt (4-8; 10th)
Mitigating Factors: Always a darling of B-10 pollsters, Commodores get usual, lofty preseason B-10 ranking…Traditionally strong finishers, Vanderbilt roared into B-10 contention after losing four (4) of last five (5) in 2016…Vanderbilt still benefiting from turn of the century decision to merge Student Affairs, Athletic departments as 2016 special teams to be manned mainly with transfers from Vienna Boys Choir.
Those Were The Days: Sometimes part of hilarious Tri-Lateral Commission entry with Rice and Duke, Commodores looking to make big VB-10 splash on their own in 2016…Key will be to avoid annual mid-season, momentum depleting win against lower level team.
Opening Loss: South Carolina
7. Sun Belt Conference
Mitigating Factors: Defending B-10 Conference of the Year winner, Sun Belt easy pick for 2016 repeat…Conference so bad B-10 pollsters had to – again – deny B-10 staffers pleas to name award for conference and retire them from contention in order to open up opportunities for other deserving conferences to win award…Soccer, more soccer and chick volleyball all featured on Sun Belt homepage before first football story.
Oh Come All Ye Faithful: Despite non-conference woes, Sun Belt expected to rebound for strong .500 mark in conference play.
8. Eastern Michigan (1-11; 3rd)
Mitigating Factors: Despite another medal stand finish in 2015, Eastern Michigan fan(s) starting to get antsy for first B-10 title…With losing streaks of ten (10), eight (8), eight (8) and seven (7) games all since 2012, Eagles turning into type of B-10 juggernaut that earns Team of the Decade consideration…Eagles get big strength of schedule points for playing in MAC – everyone in the MAC gets big strength of schedule points for playing in MAC – and Eagles B-10 success will depend on blowout non-conference losses.
Commitment To Excellence: Broncos in tough in opener against lower level team, and mettle will be tested with 9/17 game against Charlotte, a school in their second year of major division football.
Opening Loss: Mississippi Valley State
9. UMess (3-9; NR)
Mitigating Factors: UMass – or UMess, as B-10 pollsters like to call them – have gone 8-40 since resuming major division football in 2012 and still have not beaten major division team that finished season with winning record since beating Holy Cross in 1901…While other schools jockey for positioning to join big 12 conference, independent Minutemen – who were more or less thrown out of the B-10 powerhouse MAC – are hoping a couple of wins might get them consideration into New England Collegiate Flag Football Alliance.
We Get The Point: UMess has not had a winning season since 1904 squad went 5-2-1, which includes a win over Worcester Tech, which is actually a high school.
Opening Loss: at Florida
10. Central Florida (0-12; 2nd)
Mitigating Factors: Not satisfied with being only second team in B-10 history (Eastern Michigan, 2009) to run the table and finish in the runner-up spot, UCF fired their coach in an attempt to earn their first ever ESPNCup…B-10 pollsters “pretty sure” Knights first team “basically ever” to finish a season ranked 120th or worse in nine (9) official NCAA stat categories.
Running The Numbers: With zero (0) five (5) star recruits, two (2) four (4) star recruits and 793 walk-ons from local continuing education satellite campus, incoming freshmen expected to lay foundation for years of B-10 success.
Opening Loss: South Carolina State
Opening Week Clash of the Titans: Army at Temple
This One’s Going To Suck, Too: Mississippi Valley State at Eastern Michigan
Up Next On ESPN3,723: VMI at Akron
Strategies of the Great Coaches Series: “We’re not gonna set our sights on big goals. We aren’t gonna talk about national championships.” New Central Florida head coach Scott Frost.
Read past editions of The Bottom Ten here.