Today I'm drawing my inspiration from a well-written and very funny article from Spencer Hall of SB Nation. And by "inspiration," I mean "That oughta bide me some time for a few days."
In the article, Hall looks back on some of the worst college football teams of the last few years -- not just teams who ended up being terrible in the record books, but were so utterly wretched as to be deemed nearly unwatchable. While I think he compiled a solid list, I take issue with one very glaring omission: there are no WAC teams on it. And as I said all the way back in my Summer Filler entry for San Jose State, "when WAC football is bad, it's really bad. Horrifically, stupendously, hilariously bad." Not putting even one WAC team on a list of the most unwatchable football teams is like calling "Braveheart" historically accurate.
To rectify this injustice, I'm taking a look back at the worst WAC teams of Nevada's time in the conference from 2000 to the present. You want unwatchable, Hall? I got yer unwatchable right here!
Sorry guys, but I'd like to at least maintain the illusion of having an impartial list here. New coaches and new conferences don't traditionally mix well, and Chris Tormey's first year in Reno was no exception. Blowout losses were everywhere that year, including a few to some equally terrible opponents. No matter how much his teams improved from year to year, he never beat UNLV, and for this he shares equal blame with those idiot Rebel fans for the heinous travesty pictured above.
Sure, the 2007 edition of the Vandals finished 1-11, but that team was actually fairly competitive in many games that year, and you have to respect a team that at least fights back in spite of their own suckitude. But in addition to the greater number of lopsided defeats this season produced, I have a two-word explanation for why this team is more worthy of the "unwatchable" designation: butt logos. No, your eyes are not deceiving you -- that is, in fact, an Idaho logo placed directly on that poor defender's Idahole. Even worse, they lost that particular game 70-0, and even had a bizarre cheerleading outfit "controversy" a few weeks later. On and off the field, this season resembled a dumpster fire slowly spreading from one trash heap to the next.
Here's another instance of off-field issues contributing to a team's unwatchability. After leading the Spartans to a bowl win in 2006, Dick Tomey went 11-13 the next two years. In 2009, things finally devolved to a sad, bittersweet climax. Scholarship reductions from APR sanctions took their toll on his team, and a season full of blowouts was painfully punctuated by a 62-7 loss to the Pack on a sparsely attended Sunday night. It remains to this day the only Nevada road win I actually felt a little dirty after witnessing. Tomey's resignation eight days later just put an "I give up" cherry on this sundae of failure.
The New Mags haven't played in a bowl game since 1960 and Las Cruces has become, in the words of Football Study Hall "the most consistent coaching graveyard at the FBS level." So why does this particular season sparkle amidst the team's numerous other diamonds of ineptitude? Well, the Oh-fer obviously helps, but it set a precedent for other bad WAC teams after the realignments of 2005 that hasn't been equaled record-wise since. This was a team that yelled "I call the basement!" when they moved into the WAC and has definitively stayed there ever since. Simply put, NMSU is the poster child for just how bad WAC football is capable of being, and 2005 was their magnum anus.
Now you must be asking yourself "If that's true, then how come you only have them at number two?" An excellent question. And even after you see who I have at number one, you may look at the records and say "That doesn't make sense. You're an idiot." Just keep reading, and let me explain why.
If the 2005 New Mexico State team is the usual gold standard for WAC worthlessness, then this Aggie team is the real Hall of Shame entry, the Guinness World Record holder that truly went below and beyond, then went even lower after that. Some of their infamous distinctions include three straight shut-out losses and four overall, failing to score a single offensive touchdown until five games into the season, and being forced to punt from inside the 30-yard line on at least one occasion out of genuine fear of their place kicker. Did I mention their punter was also their original quarterback? And their uniforms had "AGGIES" on the back like some all-man-child Pop Warner team? Even their lone win -- a 13-12 comedy of errors against Fresno State -- still managed to be every bit as depressing as each of their eleven losses. I remember watching Nevada pummel them in a slurry of horizontal rain and snow at Mackay that year thinking "This is one of the worst football teams I've ever seen. Also, I can't feel my fingers or toes." Give Brent Guy a college football program and four years of free reign and his path of (self) destruction will be unparalleled.
So while NMSU may hold the dishonor of being the only winless team on this list, as far as the quality of play on the field and who was less competitive more often, the Aggies from Utah have everyone else beaten. And at least on this blog, they will be forever immortalized as the WAC's most unwatchable team of the last decade.
Shameful Mentions Who Didn't Quite Make the Cut: UTEP 2002 (2-10); SMU 2003 (0-12); Louisiana Tech 2006 (3-10); San Jose State 2010 (1-12)
So who would you put on your "most unwatchable" list?