Ryan McGee, ESPN Senior Writer 368d

Rocky Top, you'll always be losing most uniquely

College Football, Tennessee Volunteers

The Bottom 10 inspirational thought of the week:

"The confidence comes because you prepare, and then you have something good that happens to you, and then you feel good about it, and then you prepare better because you feel good about it, and then something else good happens to you, and then you feel better about yourself, so you prepare harder, and then more good things happen. And it just keeps spiraling. Something other than that would be just false, fake confidence that might be OK in pregame, but once the ball turns over, it won't have lasting effects."

-- Bob Diaco, Nebraska defensive coordinator

Mitch Sherman, an colleague and a longtime friend of the Bottom 10, recorded and transcribed that statement one week ago. It's 90 words punctuated by only three periods, the first not appearing until after word No. 59. It is a breathless quote that leaves us here at Bottom 10 HQ also gasping for air. And for once, not because our office is located next to the ESPN water treatment shed.

Think about what Diaco is really saying here. He's talking about being stuck in a spiral that, as all spirals do, moved downward. But then it reached down so far that it actually became a spiral ... upward.


Last week, after Mitch posted the quote, I called multiple physics professors and the office of Hollywood director Christopher Nolan seeking insight into the insight of the Nebraska coach. Nolan didn't call me back, but his attorneys did, demanding to know how and why I had stolen the screenplay for "Interstellar 2: Electric Boogaloo."

The one professor who returned my call said that what Diaco had described was impossible.

"Wormholes do not bounce back; they only swallow you whole to spit you out only heaven knows where," he explained. "If what he proposed were to actually happen -- traveling against the spiral -- then it would certainly destroy anyone who dared attempt to travel through it."

On Saturday evening, Nebraska paid Northern Illinois more than $800 large to come to Lincoln and kick them in the cornhusks, 21-17. Moments after the score went final, my phone buzzed with a text message. It was from the professor:


With apologies to astronaut Joseph Cooper and Steve Harvey, here's this week's Bottom 10.

1. EC-Yew (0-3)

 Full disclosure: My family has deep roots in the region of North Carolina they call Down East. My father was once a pitcher for the then-East Carolina Teachers College Pirates. That's why ECU loyalists have always felt comfortable greeting me with a hearty, "ARGH!" Now they greet me with a brokenhearted, "UGH!"

2. UMess (0-4)

 Anyone who believes I write the Bottom 10 because I enjoy being mean should have been with me during Friday date night. Mrs. McGee had to plead with me to stop yelling and screaming at the restaurant television as the Minutemen looked like they had a shot to win at Temple. Oh, wait ... as I type this out, I'm just now realizing that I made Mrs. McGee watch UMass at Temple during date night. Dang, I am mean.

3. Baylor (0-3)

 Speaking of Temple, you think Baylor coach Matt Rhule might be longing for a Philly cheesesteak right about now? No? OK, I'll ask you that again this Saturday after Oklahoma leaves town. Or maybe I'll wait until the Bears visit Kansas State the following week ... or after their game at Stillwater ... or after the visits from West Virginia and Texas. Yes, those are Baylor's next five games. In the middle of all that, late one night, Rhule is going to randomly show up at Geno's and say, "Yeah, hi, I'll take my sandwich with peppers, onions, Cheez Whiz and ibuprofen crumbles."

4. FI (not A) U (1-1)

 Hurricane Irma forced the Fightin' Butch Davises to cancel their trip to Indiana. BUT, y'all grab your socks and pull! They've announced that they will replace that game with (drumroll, please ... preferably spoons on a frying pan) a Dec. 2 visit from UMass! I'm not one for way-too-early predictions; that's Mark Schlabach's specialty. But predicting that contest will end up becoming the Bottom 10 Championship Game feels too good to be wrong, right?

5. Good Ol' Rocky Stop (2-1)

Honestly, Nebraska had this spot locked down. Then we saw the video of a Butch Jones-autographed Tennessee jersey being burned by an angry fan Saturday night. The shirt had been soaked in moonshine, which tells me that perhaps the fire starters aren't real Tennessee fans. These days, any true Vol wouldn't have passed up an opportunity to drown their sorrows. UMass visits Knoxville this weekend, which feels like a surprisingly natural Pillow Fight of the Week, but speaking of lockdowns, our next two teams already had the PFOW booked.

6. Charlotte 0-and-3ers (0-3)

 When Charlotte started its football program five years ago, it made the bold decision to fast-track through the FCS and essentially go straight to the FBS. On Saturday, it lost to FCS school North Carolina A&T via a late-game pick-six in front a record home crowd -- most of which were there to see the visiting Aggies. This weekend, Charlotte hosts another program that chose to hustle through the FCS and move ahead to the big leagues ...

7. Georgia State Not Southern (0-2)

 That'd be these guys, who spent a decidedly unhappy afternoon in Happy Valley, losing 56-0 to Penn State. Now they travel up I-85 to Charlotte for the PFOW and perhaps the first-ever Bottom 10 GameDay. But only if I can find my lawn chairs and the charger cord for my GoPro. And my rubber clown nose.

8. FA (not I) U (1-2)

 That whirring you hear is the printer in Lane Kiffin's office, cranking out copies of this week's rankings, seeing as how his former employer is listed three spots above his current employer. Or, wait ... are those résumés?

9. UTEP (0-3)

 On Sunday, the Minors fired their offensive coordinator, presumably because they are ranked 126th in the nation in points scored per game. Memo to their defensive coordinator: You are ranked 127th in the nation in points allowed per game.

10. Boiling Green (0-3)

Georgia Southern Not State drops out of our rankings after a big win over the Fightin' Byes of Open Date University. It is replaced by our first MAC member of the season, out of the MAC East, which has six members and five with a losing record. Like UTEP, the Falcons also are ranked in the 120-somethings on both sides of the ball. We don't know exactly where, because the ESPN Stats & Information department has me on a very strict "Only one Bottom 10 question per week, you creep" policy.

Waiting list: Georgia Southern Not State (0-2), Kansas Nayhawks (1-2), South Alabama (1-2), No-vada (0-3), Buffalo Bulls Not Bills (1-2), State of Kent (1-2), In A Rut-gers (1-2), New Mexico Nobos (1-2), basically the entire Fun Belt (12 teams, 2 winning records).

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