Column: A salute to football's worst of the worst
ATLANTA (AP) This isn't another column about Florida State or Alabama.
They get enough attention.
With the start of college football right around the corner, we'd like to give a shoutout to the Bottom 10, those schools where optimism is about as appropriate as refusing to dump a bucket of ice water on your head.
Schools such as Georgia State, losers of 16 in a row and one of only two FBS teams that failed to win a game, any game, in 2013. When the Panthers take the field in the very first contest of the season, next Wednesday night against Abilene Christian, they won't be thinking about championships.
A win would be worthy of a parade.
''Our kids are just excited to play, to go out and try to get the taste of victory and put the demons away,'' coach Trent Miles said Friday.
With a nod to the occult, let's count `em down, the poll where no one wants to be No. 1:
10. Southern Mississippi. The Golden Eagles are a recent addition to the ranks of the decrepit. Just three seasons ago they finished 12-2 and made another poll - The Associated Press Top 25. Since then, Southern Miss is 1-23. But maybe things are looking up. The Golden Eagles come into the season on a winning streak, closing 2013 with a 62-27 victory over UAB. Speaking of which ...
9. UAB. The letters supposedly stand for University of Alabama at Birmingham, but we know better. It actually means ''U Ain't Bama,'' as in that program down the road in Tuscaloosa. With only three winning seasons since launching in 1996, the Blazers play to sparse crowds at creaky Legion Field, where they actually had to remove the upper deck a few years ago because of fears it would collapse. Not that UAB needed the extra seats.
8. California. The Bears can't blame a behind-the-times stadium for their woes, having spent $321 million to renovate their home field. Though they haven't done much in those spiffy new digs. Cal is 1-11 at home against FBS teams the last two years. In 2013, Cal gave up a staggering 45.9 points a game, prompting second-year coach Sonny Dykes to crack: ''I paid more attention to defense last year than I ever have before, so maybe I'll pay less attention this year.''
7. Kentucky. Yes, they play football at Kentucky. Long overshadowed by the Big Blue basketball team, the Wildcats really stepped up their putrid play in recent years: a 16-game losing streak in the mighty Southeastern Conference, back-to-back losses to state directional foe Western Kentucky, and zero wins over major-conference teams since 2011. The good news? It will soon be basketball season.
6. Purdue. This has never been a Big Ten powerhouse, but it wasn't so long ago the Boilermakers put together a streak of 10 bowls in 11 seasons. No talk of bowls at the moment. Purdue went 1-11 last year and turned back the clock offensively, averaging a paltry 14.9 points a game in this high-scoring era.
5. Temple. The Owls are a program that keeps outkicking its coverage. A decade ago, they were booted out of the Big East for incompetence and wound up in the Mid-American Conference, where they managed a couple of bowl appearances. When the imploding Big East changed its membership standards to basically any school with a pulse, the Owls were invited back. Last season, they morphed into the American Athletic Conference with a familiar result: 2-10.
4. Eastern Michigan. Coach Ron English was fired in November for using vile language during a secretly taped meeting with defensive backs. Some may say he got off lucky at a school that's 28-90 over the last decade. Then again, one of the Eagles' two wins in 2013 came against Western Michigan (1-11), so maybe we'll make Eastern 5a, Western 5b.
3. Idaho. The Vandals have one winning record in the last 14 years, going 1-11 each of the last two seasons. This school is located in Moscow, a small town near the Washington state border. They would be getting roughly the same attention if they were playing in that other Moscow.
2. Georgia State. The Panthers are likely the worst program in the country, but we'll give them a bit of a break since they started in 2010 and this will be just their second year in FBS. (Full disclosure: As a graduate of GSU, I know the Panthers have never been No. 1 in anything.)
Which brings us to No. 1. (Or should we say No. 128?)
Drum roll, please.
1. New. Mexico State. Ohhh, where to begin. The Aggies have the nation's longest active streak of losing seasons (11 in a row) and the worst record of any FBS school over the last decade (28-94). Since 1968, they have a grand total of four winning seasons. But the Aggies (along with Idaho) are moving to the Sun Belt Conference, which already includes Georgia State. Keep an eye on New Mexico State's Sept. 6 showdown against the Panthers in Atlanta.
Or maybe not.
We won't blame you for getting back to Florida State and Alabama.
Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
AP Sports Writers Josh Dubow in San Francisco, Larry Lage in Detroit, David Brandt in Jackson, Mississippi, and John Zenor in Montgomery, Alabama, contributed to this report.