The Bottom 10 inspirational thought of the week:
Hello, again, hello
Just called to say hello
I couldn't sleep at all tonight
And I know it's late
I couldn't wait
Hello, my friend, hello
Just called to let you know
I think about you every night
When I'm here alone
And you're there at home
Maybe it's been crazy
And maybe I'm to blame
But I put my heart above my head
We've been through it all and you love me just the same
And when you're not there
I just need to hear
Hello, my friend, hello
"Hello Again" -- Neil Diamond
Summer is great. But it can also be lonely. Especially for, oh, I dunno, a marginalized dad of a teenage daughter with a wife who has an out-of-town job and a guy who, I dunno, maybe had all his hopes and dreams for the summer tied up in the possibility of the Avengers defeating Thanos!
When such a hypothetical soul definitely not named Ryan McGee is faced with such despair, served up on the perpetual hot plate of June and July, with the college football season still months away, what does he do? He turns to old friends. Friends equally desperate in their need of a friend.
I am of course speaking of my friends in the Bottom 10. As Labor Day weekend approaches, I like to picture the 10 of them approaching the millions of us like we're all in one of those old-time Hollywood movies, rushing toward each other in a flowery meadow, arms outstretched, ready for the big embrace. But then one of them trips over a dead sunflower stem and the entire pack starts tumbling until we all end up strewn across the center of the field like an overturned logging truck.
And it all happens to be set to Neil Diamond, turned up to 11. Hello, my friend, hello ...
With apologies to the Kentucky Woman and Steve Harvey, here's the 2018 preseason Bottom 10.
1. UTEPID (0-12 last season)
So Alabama ended last season and starts this season at No. 1 in the Associated Press poll despite a quarterback controversy and having to replace a bunch of assistant coaches, and everyone is all hyped? Whatevs. The Miners are doing all of that, too. Just, you know, in front of a lot fewer people.
2. Minute Rice (1-11 last season)
Former Stanford assistant Mike Bloomgren is now leader of the Owls parliament (that's actually what a flock of owls is called; we looked it up) and has already coined the official motto of the Bottom 10: "We're not where we want to be, but thank God we're not where we used to be." Heads-up, they host UTEP on Nov. 3.
3. Charlotte 1-and-11ers (1-11 last season)
Yes, the top bottom three spots are all occupied by teams from Conference USA. But no, Charlotte doesn't play UTEP or Rice because C-USA has like 47 teams scattered across nine time zones.
4. Kansas Nayhawks (1-11 last season)
They love it when the Jayhawks are knocking down 3s in Lawrence. But head coach David Beaty might have taken that too literally. His record in Lawrence: 3-33 over three seasons.
5. Big Ten Leaders and Legends
The conference earned the Coveted Fifth Spot by spending its summer leading the nation in headlines, most of them involving a legend.
6. San No-se State (2-11 last season)
In 2017, the Spartans ranked 126th in the nation in scoring offense and 127th in scoring defense. Their schemes were easier to read than a Doc McStuffins board book.
7. Liberty Flameouts (6-5 in FCS last season)
The Fightin' Falwells are officially an FBS team. They don't have a conference yet, but they have already established their first big league rivalry, scheduling a home-and-home with fellow independent New Mexico State. By the way, they play both those games this season. No, seriously.
8. Ore-gone State (1-11 last season)
In 1999, the Beavers ended a 28-year bowl drought behind head coach Mike Riley and QB Jonathan Smith. Now Smith is head coach, Riley is his assistant (OK, he was, he left to coach the San Antonio Watchamacallits of the AAF) and the team is coming off a season worse than any during those earlier dark days. Their reward for taking on a such a task for the second time? A Week 1 trip to the Horseshoe to meet a Buckeyes team that should be only slightly less angry than that mutant dinosaur shark thing named Meg currently chasing Jason Statham.
9. State of Kent (2-10 last season)
There was a time when MACtion dominated these rankings even more than it dominates Tuesday night television viewing. The Golden Flashes will set the tone early as to whether the conference can invade the Bottom 10 again, as they travel to Ill-Noise on Sept. 1 for Pillow Fight of the Year: Episode I.
10. Myrtle Beach U. Chanticleers (3-9 last season)
While at the beach this summer, I ran into some folks from Coastal Carolina, and they said their biggest concern is that they don't have a single player on the roster who weighs more than 300 pounds. That makes no sense. I can't visit Myrtle Beach without gaining at least 30. Fried shrimp and funnel cake, y'all!