Bottoms Up: Preseason Top 10 Worst CFB Teams
Whether it’s due to inexperience, a new move up to FBS or annual ineptitude, these 10 teams are predicted to have a rough go of it in 2012 as the bottom dwellers among the 124 FBS teams (with some reference help from Pre-Snap Read).
Like home stadium Legion Field, the Blazers have been in decline for a while. (Granted, Legion Field far surpasses them in that category.) Since its only bowl appearance, in 2004, UAB has gone 26–57. This includes a program-worst 2–10 record in since-fired Neil Callaway’s first year as head coach, in 2008.
Callaway’s new replacement, Garrick McGee, was the coordinator of an Arkansas offense that was the only unit in FBS in 2011 with a 3,000-yard passer, a 1,000 yard rusher and five 600-yard receivers. Whether he can duplicate — or come close to duplicating — those numbers in a non-BCS, non-SEC program that went 3-9 last year and returns just 11 starters remains to be seen.
Notable Alum: Roddy White
Rebels fans are grateful that their beloved basketball team is back to respectability. As for their football program? Well...
Ever since 2001, when Sports Illustrated ranked UNLV No. 25 in its college football preview and QB Jason Thomas was a preseason Heisman candidate, the program has nosedived (this after proudly reaching mediocrity).
They have gone 33–96 since then, 20–64 since coach John Robinson’s retirement in 2004. The lowpoint of 2011 was a 41–16 defeat to Southern Utah in which the Aggies returned three interceptions for TDs. The Rebels finished with just two wins and could be even worse this year.
Good thing the Vegas Strip is nearby for disenchanted fans.
Notable Alum: Randall Cunningham
The Zips should check to see if they can offer hometown son LeBron James a scholarship as a wideout. We certainly wouldn’t put it past new head coach Terry Bowden.
It wasn’t long ago that Akron wasn’t terrible. They were your typical MAC team, giving you an excuse to watch Tuesday night football on ESPN and winning anywhere from five to seven games a year thanks to Charlie Frye’s play at QB.
Fast-forward to 2012. This is one of the most depressing tidbits we’ve read in a while (courtesy of PSR’s Paul Myerberg): Akron hasn’t had a QB throw for 300 or more yards in a game since Oct. 6, 2007 — a span of 54 games.
Most peewee teams probably have a shorter streak than that. After a 2-22 combined record in the Rob Ianello era, things can't get any worse - we think.
Notable Alum: Jason Taylor. Bonus points to the Giants for featuring two former Zips on their roster, LB Chase Blackburn and WR Domenik Hixon.
Remember when John Calipari had Memphis basketball humming (vacated Final Four be damned) and the football team was surprisingly capable with star running back DeAngelo Williams?
Now in their final season in Conference USA, the Tigers hope for a season better in any way possible from a 2011 season lowlighted by five losses of 35 points or more. On the plus side, they can be compared to LSU — in that the two schools share a nickname and both feature an Aussie punter.
Ex-TCU offensive coordinator Justin Fuente was a good hire but it's going to take awhile to turn around a two-win team that lost by 44 points last season to Arkansas State last fall.
Notable Alum: DeAngelo Williams
Considering the collective, historic ineptitude of FAU, Rice and Temple (although the lattermost has been much better recently), maybe Owls weren’t meant to fly in college football.
In FAU’s case, coach Howard Schnellenberger and QB Rusty Smith tried to reverse that trend. Together, they led the Owls to consecutive bowl wins in 2007 and 2008 — quite an accomplishment for a program only founded in 2001 and FBS eligible since ’06.
FAU’s efforts to fill the void left by Smith have failed big-time. They bottomed out in 2011 by going 1-11 and scoring just 155 points in 12 games, less than 13 points/game. So they remedied this by ... hiring defensive-minded Carl Pelini.
Sorry Owls. Only in The Waterboy can a college team win with no offense and all defense. Good thing Pelinis are known for their patience. Oh, wait...
Notable Alum: Rusty Smith
Bob Davie must already be begging ABC/ESPN to have him back. Or hanging around the set of "Breaking Bad" asking Vince Gilligan if they need extras so he can do some meaningful work.
Davie does have the comfort of following the disastrous stint of Mike Locksley (2-26 in two-plus seasons before getting fired in the middle of last season). Just as long as his actions don’t result in a sexual discrimination lawsuit or punching an assistant coach.
There is, however, the on-field product to worry about. In one stretch of intraconference games last fall, the Lobos were outscored 195–14 (average game score: 49–4) and outgained 1,960 yards-to-727. Ouch.
Notable Alum: Brian Urlacher
At this stage of the rankings, all these teams are dealing with the inevitable struggles that come with moving up to FBS.
Notorious college football wanderer Dennis Franchione has lasted longer at Texas State (in his second stint with the school) than Eric Taylor did with fictional Texas Methodist University in "Friday Night Lights." We bring this up because the Bobcats’ home field was used as TMU’s field in the show.
Franchione will have to resist bolting like he has so many times before and watch the carnage that typically comes in a program’s first year playing a majority FBS schedule. Games with Stephen F. Austin (Sept. 22) and fellow FBS newbie UTSA (Nov. 24) are the Bobcats’ best chances to win.
Notable Alum: Fred Evans
In this past season of "Mad Men", Jaguar was portrayed as a flashy yet unreliable car. It’s an appropriate descriptor for several of the teams so desperate to be part of the FBS that they rushed through the motions in their transitions.
The Jaguars of South Alabama took pains not to act like the unreliable cars from "Mad Men". They sprinkled in games with NC State and Kent State but kept enough reasonable games on the calendar to finish 6–4.
Life as a full-time member of the Sun Belt Conference won’t be a day at the beach, and there will be early-season maulings courtesy of a Wolfpack (NCSU) and Bulldogs (Mississippi State). But at least South Alabama is confident and not desperate.
Notable Alum: David Freese. Yup, we’re in that part of the list where we have to choose alums from other sports…
Nothing quite like having to spend your first season in the FBS playing your “home” games 94 miles away. Such is life in 2012 for UMass, who will play five games at Foxboro Stadium while their on-campus stadium in Amherst is refurbished to meet FBS standards.
Unlike many of the schools on this list, the Minutemen have reached the mountaintop before, having won what was then the Division I-AA national title in 1998.
And their gradual transition to FBS hasn’t been terrible. They nearly duplicated Appalachian State’s epic Big House upset of Michigan, losing a 42–37 shootout in 2010.
But things turned ugly last season as UMass went 5-6 in FCS play that included a blowout loss to Villanova. Compared to the FCS, the MAC probably looks like the SEC right about now.
Notable Alum: Victor Cruz
There’s a simple reason why UTSA is the worst FBS team in the country: The Roadrunners are in their second year of existence. That’s right, one year after a 4-6 debut in the FCS, UTSA is suddenly playing with the big boys led by former Miami (FL) head coach Larry Coker and a roster looking like Necessary Roughness.
UTSA will have a tough time with teams in the WAC considering they lost to
Division IIDivision III McMurry last fall and didn’t even finish above .500 in the FCS. Why? Here’s a sampling of the talent on the UTSA roster: QB Eric Soza hadn’t played a game since his senior year of high school (2008) before last season after transferring from Texas State.
After years of pummeling inferior opponents at “The U,” Coker is in for a rude awakening upon re-entering the FBS level.
Notable Alum: Teddy Williams. Despite not having a football team until 2011, UTSA has an NFL roster player in the former All-America sprinter.
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