The Bottom Ten/Preseason Q&A
By Gaylon Kent
America’s Funniest Guy
With college football again starting a week earlier than normal, as if there is a normal in major division American college football – we are pleased to again present kick things off with this crap.
Your Bottom Ten pollsters are “pretty sure” 2017 was “like, you know, pretty historic and stuff” with both the Cleveland Browns and UTEP Miners running the table to claim Bottom Ten titles and everyone at Bottom Ten headquarters is busy running around rummaging through recruiting reports and polishing up the hardware that will be awarded throughout the year.
This week’s mess:
Q: The Cleveland Browns…Can they?
A: It’s the biggest question in Bottom Ten preseason history: Can the Cleveland Browns, 1-31 the past two (2) seasons claim a third consecutive Dan Henning Trophy – symbolic of NFL B-10 supremacy? The big problem will be complacency – they went from one (1) win in 2016 to zero (0) wins last year and there is nowhere to go but up – but the stability of having head coach Hue Jackson’s guiding hand back will help.
Q: Can UTEP run the table again?
A: Probably not. The Miners, unranked in 2017’s Week 1 survey, surprised everyone after 2016’s four (4)-win campaign by successfully navigating the minefield that was Conference USA last year. Still, though, the road to consecutive ESPNCups might be the most difficult in sports and the 2018 schedule isn’t kind, as Miners start with winnable games against lower level school, Nevada-Loss Vegas before obligatory national power blowout at Tennessee the following week.
Q: Who’s chasing history this year?
A: Earlham College. All eyes are at the intersection of US 40 and College Road in eastern Indiana this year as the current holders of the Continental Cup – issued to the team with the longest all-division losing streak in NATO – can tie the NCAA Division III record for Most Consecutive Losses with an 0-7 start. They can break it with an 0-8 start. The Quakers have won two straight Continental Cups and have lost 43 straight. Macalester lost 50 straight games in the Ford/Carter administrations.
Q: How is the Battle for LA coming along?
A: With the Chargers and Rams both returning to where they used to play, both teams faced the supreme challenge of meeting the Lakers’ current standard of ineptitude, but both took fliers on that and, tragically, have produced pretty good teams. With Chargers still holed up at StubHub Center, B-10 pollsters hoping for a slow start so they can at least trot out popular “tarped seats will be uncovered in time for high school playoffs” line
Q: Is there any hope for Duke?
A: Don’t hold your breath. The Bleu Devils, the B-10 Team of the Decade for the Double Aughts, are actually pretty good now, having produced four (4) winning seasons since 2013, and have earned only a handful of legitimate B-10 rankings this decade, a far cry from the team that seemingly had standing reservations for B-10 medal stand.
Q: Between college scandals, fewer kids playing football/NFL anthem protests and baseball players striking out every other at-bat, are we witnessing the start of a fundamental change in the American sports landscape?
A: Well, we prefer to do post-mortems on people and events, of course, but B-10 pollsters tend to think yes, we are. Barring Nick Saban going postal at SEC Media Week college sports cannot become any more of a cesspool, we’re not betting the mortgage on there being a Super Bowl C and the measured pace of baseball is now a quaint relic kids today can’t be bothered with. Looking towards the future soccer, of course, is still boring, and B-10 pollsters are boning up on lacrosse rules, just in case.
Q: Can you give us a rundown of all the goddamn trophies you guys award?
A: Probably not. There are a lot of them, but here goes:
Issued annually to NCAA Bottom Ten champion. Used to be known as Walmart Cup presented by Motel 6.
The Dan Henning Trophy
Issued annually to NFL Bottom Ten champion.
The Tostitos Plaque
Issued to NCAA team with longest losing streak in a season that actually includes a win.
The Continental Cup
Issued to team with longest all-division losing streak in NAFTA sphere of influence
The Sgt Bilko Trophy
Symbolic of service academy lousiness. Retained by previous year’s recipient in case of a tie.
The Jim Hanifan Medallion
Symbolic of NFL preseason ineptitude. Usually issued to team, but once issued to Colin Kaepernick’s ‘Fro.
The Pete Rozelle Award
Issued weekly and annually to NFL’s worst division. Can be subdivided into Ray Malavasi Medallion (NFC) and Marv Levy Broach (AFC) at need for conference awards. Conference of the Week/Conference of the Year
Otherwise unnamed award – at least until renamed for Sun Belt Conference – issued to worst major division college conference. B-10 pollsters considering separate Power 5/Group of 5 awards, though hampered by fact column is Bottom Ten and not Bottom Eleven.
Billy Cannon Certificate
Issued to the worst team in the hilarious Louisiana-Famous Dead Person (UL-Monroe/UL-Lafayette) entry, it is symbolic of Cajun football lousiness.
There are, and probably will be, others.
Q: The service academies have been pretty good – relatively speaking – lately. Are you keeping the ‘Black Knights of Confusion’ and ‘hampered by recent Secretary of Defense ruling’ lines handy just in case.
A: Of course we are. Poking fun at the service academies has been a time-honored B-10 tradition since Reconstruction and the good news is all three service academies are never particularly good at the same time for too long. Still though, B-10 pollsters have introductory calls in to SIDs at the Coast Guard Academy, VMI and the Citadel, just in case.
Q: Speaking of non-original lines, will the infernal ‘rebound for strong .500 mark in conference play’ return.
A: Yes. Silly question.
Q: How are the Zero Week NCAA matchups looking?
A: Solid, as B-10 perennials UMess, Rice and New Mexico State all try to solidify spots on the B-10 radar with clutch Zero Week losses. (Zero Week allows teams that play either in Hawaii or elsewhere overseas to start their season a week early. We don’t know why, either.) UMess, in particular, has an excellent opportunity to grab a spot in the Week 1 NCAA medal stand, opening with lower-level Duquesne.