The Bottom 10 inspirational thought of the week:
"You know, I was thinking though, one time, uh, it would really awesome if, like, you could slingshot me in for a win?"
"Yeah, but, OK ... but, if you won, how am I gonna win?"
"Think about it."
"No, I was thinking about ..."
"I mean, it's not like you're finishing 18th."
"Nothing wrong with silver."
"Nothing wrong with silver at all."
"Yeah ... hey, I'm just kidding, man. I don't wanna win. I'll just bury it down inside."
"Bury it deep down in there, and never bring it up again."
"It's painful! And I love you!"
-- Cal Naughton Jr. and Ricky Bobby, "Talladega Nights"
It was sometime around 2 a.m. Sunday, and I had finally made it to my truck after covering the Battle at Bristol between Tennessee and Virginia Tech. For a guy like me who covers both auto racing and college football, it had been an amazing yet mind-bending crossover experience. I felt like Leo DiCaprio in "Inception" except that I wasn't ending my experience staring at a spinning top, but rather at a group of overserved Tennessee students in Parking Lot B playing spin the bottle.
I reflected back on all of the NASCAR events I've covered at the Bristol Motor Speedway. I thought, as I often do, about the race teams that keep showing up week after week knowing deep down that they can't compete, the teams that make their living in the Conference-USA West end of the Sprint Cup garage. While Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing come to the racetrack backed by hundreds of employees and millions of dollars in sponsorship. The teams you've never heard of roll in with pit crews made up of guys who are cousins of the crew chief, and the only stickers on the car are the ones they bought at AutoZone while picking up some spare parts. And they all have one guy on the crew who looks like an extra from "Pirates of the Caribbean." It's weird. But it's admirable.
As I paused to process those thoughts and let my mind blend those feelings with my warmth for the teams of the Bottom 10, a shadowy figure stumbled toward out of the Smoky Mountain mist. It was a bearded gentleman dressed in a Vanderbilt T-shirt.
"Hey ... you're the Bottom 10 guy, right?"
"Why yes, yes, I am."
"Then get in your truck and get the hell out of here before I punch you in your smart-ass mouth."
With apologies to Jean Girard and Steve Harvey, here's this week's Bottom 10.
1. Virginiugh (0-2)
Back in July I asked new coach Bronco Mendenhall what had been the biggest adjustment he'd made since moving from Provo, Utah, to Charlottesville, Virginia. At the time I thought the "humidity." I need to go back re-listen to the interview. Maybe he said "humility."
2. North by Northwestern (0-2)
For the second consecutive week, we were torn over where to rank the Wildcats in relation to other similarly disappointing teams. So again I took it to Twitter via the second-ever Bottom 10 Poll of the People. Northwestern couldn't win that, either.
3. I-ow!-a State (0-2)
The Cy-Hawk Trophy shall reside in Iowa City for the next year, as the Hawkeyes routed the Cyclones 42-3. In related news, I met two drunken tailgating Virginia Tech fans named Cy and Hawk on Saturday afternoon in the Battle at Bristol parking lot. As I'd made the walk to my vehicle that night, I saw that Cy was still in the same chair he was sitting in before the game, passed out sunburned. A note was pinned to his tank top by local police saying that Hawk had been arrested for ticket scalping. And yet they both still had better a day than Iowa State.
4. Warshington State (0-2)
As this week's rankings started stacking up, we recognized a pattern. Power 5 schools populated the top four positions of the Bottom 10. I sent an email to ESPN Stats & Info to see they might know the last time that happened. The response read: "AUTO REPLY ... AGAIN. Please stop sending us questions. We are busy. We are always busy. We are always going to be busy. Why can't you take a hint?" Then I called my ex-girlfriend to let her know that someone in ESPN Stats & Info had hacked her email account.
5. The Big 12
While we were all so busy screaming about the SEC's impending implosion, the poor Big 12 was driving itself into the Trinity River like a burrito food truck with no brakes. During Week 2, the conference went 0-2 against the MAC (Kansas, Oklahoma State) and is already down to only three undefeated teams (Texas, Baylor, West Virginia). It's all been so shocking that on Saturday, Big 12 replay officials in Stillwater spilled salsa all over their video equipment.
6. FI(not A)U (0-2)
The Panthers have lost to Indiana and Maryland and are now last in the Big Ten Division Formerly Known As Leaders despite playing in the Conference Formerly Known As The Metro.
7. Rice (0-2)
Army, which won only two games in 2015, is now 2-0 after defeating the Rice Owls. Army opened the season 1-0 after defeating the Temple Owls. In Monday's Flipping the Field I wondered aloud why they didn't schedule every Owl-based team. The women at Bryn Mawr College had the perfect response.
8. UMess (0-2)
Every season there's one fan base that gets very chippy very early in the season and very much loves to send me very large quantities of emails and tweets to express said chippiness. After Week 1, the group that stepped into that role was Minutemen supporters. They angrily pointed to the team's decent showing at The Swamp as evidence that they should not be included on this list. Then came Week 2. I don't know how many yards rushing your team had on Saturday, but it was more than UMass. It mustered negative 23 yards on the ground vs. Boston College in the Battle of the Bay State. Up next, the Pillow Fight of the Week of the Year II (PFOWY2) against FI(not A)U.
9. Huh-why-yuh (1-2)
Heads up ... only 74 days until UMass visits Hawaii.
10. State of Kent (0-2)
The Buffalo Bills, er, Bulls took on Open Date U., so their spot was taken over by another MAC team. Actually, it could have been taken over by multiple MAC teams, as the league is currently the refugee camp for three of the nation's dozen 0-2 teams. Clearly those three teams also need to start scheduling Big 12 schools.
Waiting list: My-hammy of Ohio (0-2); NIU (0-2); Georgia State not Southern (0-2); Charlotte 1-and-1ers (1-1); North Texas Forty (1-1); Kansas Nayhawks 1-1; untimed downs, playing poorly enough to give a team a chance to beat you via an untimed down.