Ryan McGee, ESPN Senior WriterAug 24, 2023, 07:00 AM ET
Inspirational thought of the week:
I wonder when I wander home If I’ll be fit to drink alone. Sleep with my memories, pictures, apologies. For every minute yesterday, regret reminds me anyway. If I remember anything, I’ll make mistakes again. Last night on the Mass Pike, thought I was losing you.
— “Mass Pike,” The Get Up Kids
Here at Bottom 10 Headquarters, located at the back of the very long line of coaches impatiently waiting to share inside information with Pete Thamel, we don’t work year-round — it just feels that way. We do, in fact, take offseason trips with our families.
For instance, just last month I took the McGees to Boston, where we did all the touristy stuff, including an historic boat tour of Boston Harbor. I was standing on the top deck of the ship when I was approached by a very large human in a Minuteman costume. I’m assuming he was on a break from his period-accurate tour-guiding, because as he sidled up to me port side, he was burning a Marlboro Red.
“Hey, aren’t you the effing Bottom 10 guy?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Here with ya family, are you?”
“Yes, I am.”
“You see that ship over there?”
“Yes, I do.”
“That’s where the Boston Tea Party happened. Those guys threw 340 chests of British East India Company tea overboard into that water. 92,000 pounds. That’s 46 tons of tea. That’s a helluva lot of tea.”
“Yes, it is.”
“If someone does something stupid to make a bunch of other someones mad, those angry people, they will do anything to get their message sent.”
“Yes, they will.”
“Like, say, overtaxing tea. Or, I dunno, putting my effing alma mater back at the top of the effing preseason Bottom 10 after they also had my effing alma mater at the top of the effing Bottom 10 pretty much all last effing season, too. Throwing you into the harbor would be a lot easier for one Minuteman as big as me.”
“Yes, it would.”
“Just something to think about before we play New Mexico State on Saturday. Have a nice effing day.”
With apologies to Sam Adams, John Hancock, Rene Ingoglia and Steve Harvey, here’s the 2023 Preseason Bottom 10.
Sorry, Minuteman Tour Guide Guy, but hey, I’m an excellent swimmer. And yes, UMass opens the season with the Pillow Fight of the Week of the Year: Episode I with a trip to natural regional rival New Mexico State.
The Golden Flashes have a new coach in Kenni Burns, who has been preaching the mantra of “Kent Grit.” I’ve eaten a lot of grits in my Carolina-raised life, but never in Ohio. Also, after Kent State is done with its first two games — trips to UCF and Arkansas, where the Flashes are estimated by ESPN’s mystical and magical FPI to have a 6% chance of winning each — we should call Ken Burns, the documentarian, and have him do a film about Kenni Burns. I can already hear Peter Coyote’s voice set to piano music: “They called it ‘Kent Grit’…”
3. ULM (pronounced “uhlm”)
The good news? Terry Bowden is back for his third season, looking to get over the hump after back-to-back 4-8 campaigns. The bad news? He’s pretty much the only person who stayed. The Warhawks lost more players to the transfer portal than I have lost socks to the laundromat dryer.
4. North by Northworstern
When the Wildcats finished last season 1-11 and wound up No. 4 in the final 2022 Bottom 10, no one thought the situation in Evanston could get any worse. Then the vaunted Northwestern student newspaper said, “Hold my Helles Lager from Double Clutch Brewing Company.”
Traditionally, the Coveted Fifth spot goes to an organization that has enjoyed great success and esteem earned over decades of excellence, but has suddenly and inexplicably suffered an unforeseen series of losses. After this latest round of conference realignment, no one looks more useless and out of touch than mapmakers.
6. Sam Houston, we have a problem
After decades of success at the lower levels of college football, the Bearkats have moved up to FBS football as members of the new-look Conference USA. A large chunk of this roster was also on the field when SH won the FCS spring season natty in 2021. But if they try to bring that up this September while playing BYU, Air Force or Houston, their new FCS foes will politely tell SH to “Shhhhh.”
7. Jacksonville State Other Gamecocks
The Jacksonville that isn’t in Florida also moves up to FCS via C-USA this season. The Gamecocks visit Sam Houston on Sept. 28 in a prime-time Pillow Fight candidate game. They also have a defensive end named J-Rock, quarterback Zion Webb is playing his seventh year of college football and their coach is Rich Rodriguez. If Ken Burns makes that movie about Kent State, then Jax State deserves Quentin Tarantino.
8. Charlotte 3-and-9’ers
Speaking of head coaches, Charlotte’s new boss is Biff Poggi, who smokes cigars, wears cutoff T-shirts like he’s walking his dog on Myrtle Beach, has a “Hard Knocks”-style reality show coming to ESPN+ and is self-made rich via success as a hedge fund investor, even donating $500,000 of his salary back into the program. He’s not Coach Prime Time. He’s Coach Big Time.
9. Whew Mexico No-Bos
While our world focuses on the Week 0 showdown between UMass and Whew Mexico State, don’t sleep on Weeks 3 and 4 when the No-Bos host State, then travel to Amherst seven days later. One month after that, they go back-to-back with 2022 Bottom 10 members No-vada and Huh-why-yuh. That’s some serious strength of schedule. As in SOS — the one ships send up when they’ve run out of fuel in the middle of the ocean. You know, like in New Mexico.
10. FI(not A)U
Mike McIntyre’s first head coaching job was at San Jose State. Then he moved 1,300 miles east to be head coach at Colorado. Then he moved 2,100 miles east to Florida International. By our calculations, his next job should be at Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, 4,000 miles east of Miami.
Waiting list: Western Not Eastern Michigan, Akronmonious, Boiling Green, No-vada, Huh-why-yuh, Texas State Armadillos, Baller State, US(not C)F, Arkansas State Fightin’ Butches