Our final Bottom 10 of 2020, which ends with a perfect thud

  • Senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com
  • 2-time Sports Emmy winner
  • 2010, 2014 NMPA Writer of the Year

[Editor’s note: With one tweet, the Bottom 10 season was over. But not before the final word from the Power 5 likes of Kansas, Arizona, Vanderbilt and Florida from the Big 12, Pac-12 and even the mighty SEC.]

Inspirational thought of the week

When you walk away from me
There is no place to put my hand
Except to shade my eyes against the sun
That rises over the land
I watch you walk away
Somehow, I have to let you go
Cause it’s over

— “It’s Over,” by Jimmie Rodgers

Here at Bottom 10 Headquarters, located behind the ventilation fan used to cool Bill Connelly’s room of Brainiac computers, we were wrestling with the fact that it was mid-December and there were still Bottom 10-relevant regular-season games to be played during this most irregular of seasons. OK, it was just one game. But that game involved our top bottom-ranked team, so that contest was also the bottom piece of our entire Jenga puzzle.

And then, it was over. The season was put out of its misery like a Datsun pickup with 300,000 miles on it, ended abruptly by a tweet sent out from Monroe, Louisiana, on Monday afternoon.

We will forever refer to it as the “Bottom 10 Shot Heard ‘Round the Word.” That’s not a typo. Because while we could never verify if it was indeed heard around the world, we can say with 100 percent certainty that it was heard around the Word. Why? Because when we saw that tweet, we did a spit take of our Sanka onto our keyboard and it proceeded to type the letter “Q” into Word for the next two hours before we could get the key dried out and unstuck.

Now, here are the results of our last-second Tuesday afternoon emergency Zoom call of the Bottom 10 selection committee. Full disclosure: Not all of the votes from our panelists were counted, because Watson Brown had his webcam pointed at the ceiling, Jerry Glanville spent the entire call accidentally on mute and Charlie Weis kept being interrupted by accountants calling to tell him another buyout check had just arrived.

With apologies to James Monroe, Bill Hancock and Steve Harvey, here are 2020’s final Bottom 10 rankings.

1. ULM (pronounced “uhlm”) 0-10

While all of y’all have been out there raising Cain about the Big Ten sliding Ohio State into Indianapolis and the ACC using its “Go, Collect $200 Salary As You Pass” space for Clemson and Notre Dame, the Warhawks just pulled the smoothest title-clinching move of them all. And by smoothest move, we mean that while trying to sneak out the backdoor while no one was watching, they fell down the stairs of the fire escape and popped up to dust themselves off before anyone saw them, but later that night saw themselves on “Ridiculousness.”

2. UMess (0-4)

We had something very witty to say here, but we have just been issued a gag order because UMass has filed a lawsuit against the Bottom 10. Why? The Commonwealth is angry because we used that “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” reference for a team other than the Minutemen.

3. Kansas Nayhawks (0-9)

Kansas finishes the year ranked 127th out of 127 active FBS teams in points allowed and 126th in yards per play, yards per game and third-down percentage. It also ranks 123rd in scoring offense, 113th in passing, 116th in rushing, 126th in yards allowed per play and 109th in yards allowed per game. Last week’s cancellation of the already-postponed game with Texas prevented KU from becoming the first team in college football history to lose 100 games in a 10-year span. I know people like to use that “100” emoji to describe stuff that’s awesome, but if you show anything that says “100” to Les Miles right now, he might try to slap you with his hat.


4. Boiling Green in Northern Illinois (0-5/0-6)

Boiling Green had its season finale with My Hammy of Ohio canceled, while Northern Ill-ugh-noise lost to the Eastern Michigan University Emus in what was supposed to be the season’s final Pillow Fight of the Week before the Emus had the audacity to win a game the week before. As a result, these Brothers in MACtion will be forced to share this spot. But everyone knows that brothers can’t share anything, so we’ll just pull down the backseat armrest between them and tell them if they cross that line they’ll be walking home.

5. Flori-duh (8-2)

The season’s final Coveted Fifth Spot goes to the team that was in the Actually Coveted Sixth Spot of the College Football Playoff rankings, but has now slid into the Not As Coveted Seventh Spot in those rankings, not because of the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World (or Word),” but rather the “Shoe Tossed ‘Round the Swamp.”

6. unLv (0-6)

The Fightin’ Tarks lost their season finale at Hawaii 38-21 in a game that kicked off at 11 p.m. ET. They trailed 21-0 early but rallied in the second half to cut the Warriors’ lead to only two scores twice. That shouldn’t be a surprise. You can’t live in Vegas without knowing how to rally after midnight.

7. By the Time I Get to Arizona (0-5)

The Wildcats entered these rankings only one week ago. In the days since, they lost to rival Arizona State 70-7, fired coach Kevin Sumlin and had their season finale with Cal canceled because neither team had enough scholarship players available to play the game. It’s the Bottom 10 equivalent to that gif of Vince McMahon entering the arena … if Vince had tripped over an extension cord and knocked out a tooth.

8. Sibericuse (1-10)

After a season of using “Sir-Accused Orange,” suddenly last week I received multiple complaints from multiple Syracuse alums saying that if I was going to do this correctly, then I should go with “Sad Excuse” or “Sibericuse.” Considering that when I applied to attend Syracuse, I received a letter from the admissions office that said “LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL” in giant Orange letters, then I should definitely defer to the advice of those who got in. Also, that’s like all of my bosses, so …

9. Vanderbilt Commode Doors (0-9)

Vandy’s season finale with Georgia has been canceled and officially designated as a “no contest.” It’s worth noting that when the game was still on the schedule, it had also been officially designated as a “no contest.”

10. FI(not A)U (0-5-4-2)

The battle for this final spot was a heated competition between a pair of Florida-based teams that didn’t play last weekend, but were both still in play for this slot in the standings. US(not C)F won its season opener against The Citadel and then lost eight straight, with two games still listed as “postponed” that will never be played. Meanwhile, FI(not A)U went winless with five losses, four postponements and two cancellations. Because a record of 0-5-4-2 feels like a better representation of the 2020 college football experience, the edge goes to the Panthers. In other words, to put it in selection committee terms, that’s what we saw via the eye test. And now that we have taken that eye test, we need to find one of those industrial eyewash stations.

Final Waiting List: Tempered Owls (1-6), Duke Blew It Devils (2-9), Yew-tah State (1-5), Akronmonious (1-5), US(not C)F (1-8), Texas State Armadillos (2-10), every Big 10 team that isn’t OSU, IU, Northwestern or Iowa, COVID-19.

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