10. Notre Dame
The fighting Irish have one of the most storied programs in the country, but over the past few years they’ve nearly destroyed any cred they earned in more than a century. Since taking over as head coach in 2005, former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has proved it’s harder to be a genius when you don’t have a clue about opposing teams’ defenses: Last year the Irish finished dead last in total offense. A schedule featuring six losing teams might allow them to eke out a bowl appearance. But no matter who they draw, we guarantee a 10th straight loss. Time to bring back Rudy?
Lowlight: The university is investigating starting QB Jimmy Clausen for an “underage drinking incident” after photos hit the Internet showing the 20-year-old toasting at a house party.
Lamest tradition: Coating each player’s helmet with paint containing real gold before each game. Hey—we’re in a recession, assholes!
Where were you when JFK died? Maybe watching Ole Miss win their last SEC title! New head coach Houston “Busta” Nutt will try to bring his winning ways from Arkansas (in 2006 the Razorbacks earned a bowl nod), but there’s only so much one man can do. Last season the Rebels went winless in the SEC for the first time since 1982 and finished with a defense ranked next to last in the conference. What happens when a team like that faces juggernauts like Florida and LSU? You’ll see point spreads even Tony Soprano couldn’t fix.
Lowlight: “Ole Miss” is a title that was commonly given to a plantation mistress, and the school’s mascot, Colonel Reb, represented a pre–Civil War plantation owner. Attention, U of Mississippi: The North won. Let’s move on.
Lamest tradition: Students decked out in their Sunday best—jackets and ties, semiformal dresses—for tailgates that include fine china and candelabras. Don’t mess your boutonnieres while doing those kegstands, kids.
If not for all those country singers warbling about their unfaithful wives, the Commodores would be the saddest thing in Nashville. The program with the 103rd-ranked offense (out of 119 teams) hasn’t seen a winning season since before the members of its current squad were born. You could point fingers in any direction, but we’ll aim ours at the offensive line, which has sent only two players to the NFL since 1986. This year’s outlook isn’t any better: The team replaced 13 starters.
Lowlight: In 2002 head coach Bobby Johnson outlawed cursing. Players and coaches had to choose their words carefully or else do 10 push-ups on the spot. Fuck that, Vandy!
Lamest tradition: Each year, Vanderbilt frosh meet as a class to sign a copy of the school’s honor code. The document is then displayed in the student center so kids can admire it while they give each other detailed rundowns of the essay questions on their art history exams.
7. Washington State
What happens now that star QB Alex Brink has left to get a real job with the Houston Texans? The Cougars’ no-huddle offense is left to the slow hands and even slower feet of fifth-year quarterback-slash-tackling-sled Gary Rogers. A suggestion to new head coach and alum Paul Wulff: Perhaps if you let several actual cougars loose on the field—or even a pack of sex-starved older women—you’ll have an outside shot at a few Pac-10 victories.
Lowlight: In January, Cougar safety Xavier Hicks was charged with assault for allegedly filling his roommate’s contact lens case with rubbing alcohol after the guy forgot to pay the cable bill. To be fair, who wouldn’t be devastated by a month without Larry King?
Lamest tradition: The victory bell struck after each win rings only in the keys of G and C, signifying “Go” and “Cougs.”
Let’s start with the good news: Sophomore quarterback Adam Weber set school records last year for completions, passing yards, and touchdown passes. The bad news: The 2007 Golden Gophers D notched one of the worst seasons in NCAA history, which helps explain the team’s 1-11 record. So who’d they bring in to right the ship as defensive coordinator? Ted Roof, who went 6-45 as head coach of Duke. Well, at least the people of Minnesota have other things to do when the weather gets cold besides watch football. Oh, wait…
Lowlight: Astute observers of rodentia may note that Goldy, the school mascot, bears little resemblance to an actual gopher. Why? The artist who designed it in 1940 didn’t know what gophers looked like, so he drew a squirrel.
Lamest tradition: The winner of Minnesota’s annual game against Wisconsin—the “Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe”—gets to lug home a useless, ornamental six-foot hatchet. Fun!5. Iowa State
Ah, the American heartland—home of towering cornstalks, youthful innocence, and…truly abysmal football. The 2007 Cyclones performed more like a faint breeze, drifting across the line of scrimmage for a meager 20 sacks and finishing 3-9. ISU dropped Big-12 powerhouses Oklahoma and Texas from its schedule this year, but with a leaky defense and no real quarterback, the Cyclones will still produce the worst losses in Iowa since Hillary shit the bed in January.
Lowlight: Iowa State has some of the worst graduation rates in the Big 12—third to last among conference football programs last year. Maybe they just can’t read the playbooks?
Lamest tradition: Since the early 1900s, giddy coeds have met under the school clock tower to seal their love with a kiss. Those who do so at midnight supposedly become “true Iowa Staters.” Whatever the hell that means.
Baylor may be a bright spot in the dismal city of Waco, Texas, but over the past 15 years, the university’s football program may have suffered more losses than the Branch Davidians. Last year’s defense allowed an average of 461 yards and 37 points a game, so Baylor brass gave head coach Guy Morriss the boot and then hired the offensive specialist Art Briles from the University of Houston to take his place. Huh? Whatever, the Bears need all the help they can get—though at his first press conference Briles proved he might not have a grasp on his team’s losing reputation: “When people talk about Baylor,” he said, “we want them to take notice.” Oh, they have, coach. Trust us.
Lowlight: Since joining the Big 12 in 1996, the Bears have compiled an astonishingly bad 35-101 record and are the only conference squad not to make a bowl game.
Lamest tradition: At the annual “Pigskin Revue” homecoming event, students perform Broadway-style song-and-dance acts. Because nothing says football like jazz hands.
Stanford’s program is steeped in history—John Elway is an alum, Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh ended his career there. But the Cardinal (it refers to the color, not the bird, though the mascot is a tree; we know, it’s confusing) haven’t made a bowl game since 2001. Yes, they beat USC last season as a 41-point underdog, but that was one game. If that happens again in 2008, those NoCal nerds should expect a visit from the FBI. Stanford had 14 Pac-10 All-Academic players on the team last year, yet their secondary still couldn’t figure out how to stop opposing receivers. This year they’ve inexplicably scheduled seven road games with a barely-game-tested QB helming the offense.
Lowlight: Behold the most famous blown lead in the history of football: On November 20, 1982, the Cardinal led Cal 20-19 with four seconds to go when the Bears fielded a squib kick and stumbled to the end zone, trampling members of the Stanford band, who’d stormed the field thinking their team had won.
Lamest tradition: Each mascot has to make his or her own tree costume. Really? A $17.2 billion endowment can’t buy a kid a cloth redwood?
The Big East isn’t exactly football’s roughest playground, but that hasn’t stopped the Orange from getting their asses kicked regularly by conference opponents for the past several years. Last season they averaged just 62.7 yards per game on the ground—fewer than seven individual Big East players. That stat alone is probably enough to make alum Jim Brown wanna come back and beat the ever-living crap out of them. Not that it would help. Look for ’Cuse to stink up the East Coast worse than the New Jersey Turnpike this year.
Lowlight: In last year’s Super Bowl, wide receiver and alum David Tyree kicked off the Giants’ game-winning drive by catching a 32-yard pass from Eli Manning. Using his helmet.
Lamest tradition: It’s custom for the men’s head cheerleader to toss a golden horseshoe over the goal to the women’s head cheerleader before each game. Superstition states that if she catches it, Syracuse wins. We say she should just suit up and join the receiving corps.
They may be college basketball gods, but on the football field the Duke Blue Devils can’t seem to escape the seventh level of hell—perennial suckiness. New head coach David Cutcliffe, who shepherded both Manning brothers through their respective college careers (as an offensive coordinator at Tennessee and a head coach at Ole Miss), is the program’s first major coaching hire since Steve Spurrier some 20 years ago. But even a miracle worker would struggle with a team that’s gone 1-23 over the past two seasons and suffered 25 straight ACC losses. We’ll give the Dookies this: It takes a certain kind of dedication to be this bad, and on that point the overachievers this school attracts don’t disappoint. So congratulations, Blue Devils. You are officially Maxim’s pick for the worst BCS team in college football—for the second year running! You’ve earned it.
Lowlight: The Blue Devils take their mascot name from a group of WWI French soldiers known as les Diables Bleus, who wore capes and berets during battle, making them unquestionably the most fashion-forward POWs around.
Lamest tradition: Since 1986, masses of rabid men’s basketball fans have gathered outside Cameron Indoor Stadium several days before big games, living in tents so that they can be first in line when admission to the arena is finally granted. When you’re not a rich white kid, this is known as “homelessness.” Then again, at least one of Duke’s teams is inspiring irrational fandom.
10. Notre Dame