||This article may document a neologism in such a manner as to promote it. (May 2011)|
The Bottom 10 (officially, ESPN.com's Bottom 10) is a week-by-week regular season "ranking" of the worst ten college football teams in the NCAA Division I FBS. ESPN.con writer Mark Schlabach writes the column each week and is the sole determiner of the teams which are listed.
One of the running gags of the Bottom 10 is the "highly coveted Number 5 spot". This spot is reserved for "the top BCS blunder of the week" – a normally strong football team which found itself on the wrong end of an upset the prior week; an example would be the September 7, 2011 Bottom 10, which featured Oregon State at the #5 ranking after its upset loss to Sacramento State, a Division I FCS program that had previously never beaten an FBS team in its history.
Another notable running gag is that the rankings sometimes include, not teams, but other items associated with the team; the September 7 Bottom 10 (referenced above) included such items as "bad weather" (a reference to three games, including the South Florida upset of Notre Dame, being delayed or prematurely shortened by severe weather), "TCU's defense" (a reference to TCU, ranked #14 in the AP poll, giving up 50 points in its loss to unranked Baylor), and "F_U" — where the underscore acts as a wildcard to imply the two schools FIU and FAU.
The Bottom 10 in popular culture
The Bottom 10 rankings are occasionally referenced by other sporstwriters when writing editorials about teams that the writers consider to be poor performers. One example of this can be found in the Stanford Review: "Stanford has consistently maintained the #2 spot on the ESPN "Bottom 10" rankings, only losing, or winning depending on your perspective, to equally hapless Duke."
The Chicago Tribune credits the idea to Los Angeles sportswriter Steve Harvey approximately 30 years before ESPN began using the term. ESPN now publishes the rankings "With apologies to Steve Harvey." In 2008, Harvey resumed his "Bottom 10" columns for college and NFL football in the Los Angeles Times.
- NT Daily News[dead link] "NT among league's worst" by Michael Neglia, September 8, 2006
- Stanford Review "Time for Harris to Go?", Stuart Baimel, December 1, 2006
- ESPN.com Bottom 10 Rankings "Final Bottom 10 finds 2007's real McCoys", David Duffey, January 14, 2008
- Steve Harvey, College Football - Bottom 10, Los Angeles Times, September 24, 2009