Legendary sportswriter Wendell Barnhouse recently left the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and is now a correspondent for Big 12 Sports.com. With 30 years experience of observing the college scene, his expertise is unmatched. In the spirit of Steve Harvey's Bottom Ten, Wendell will provide us a capsule look at college football's less fortunate, counting down the Bottom 25 teams in Division I-A football.
No. 1 Florida International
Nickname: Golden Panthers.
Conference: Sun Belt.
Coach: Mario Cristobal, 1-11 in one season.
Division I-A history: Six seasons, 16-52.
Last bowl appearance: You're kidding, right? See Division I-A history.
Best record last five years: 5-6 in 2005.
Rank(ed) because: No better irony than Florida International winning its only game last season in the final game played in the Orange Bowl. The old Voodoo Palace is now a pile of rubble. That's a good description for FIU. In 2007, the Golden Panthers were involved in the embarrassing brawl with Miami. FIU is now 1-23 for the past two seasons.
Negative number: Before ending a 23-game losing streak with a 38-19 victory over North Texas in the season finale, FIU went 17 games without scoring more than 28 points. The Golden Panthers averaged 9.2 points per game during that stretch.
Possible victory: Dec. 6 in the season finale. Florida International hosts Western Kentucky, a I-A newbie which is ranked No. 119. If not battered into submission by the previous 11 games, these two teams could be deciding the coveted No. 120 ranking for the 2008 season.
Biggest blowout: Aug. 30, at Kansas. The Jayhawks' spread offense and quarterback Todd Reesing will be ready to slice and dice the FIU defense. Last year in Lawrence, KU rolled to a 55-3 victory. The locker room and the scoreboard should look familiar to the visitors.
Is there hope? In a few years, yes. Florida International moves into a new on-campus stadium this season. Cristobal likes how his team has improved in the weight room. There is lots of talent in South Florida so it figures some good players will wind up at FIU. The Golden Panthers also can look to fellow Sun Belt foe Florida Atlantic, a start-up program (2001) that went 8-5 last year and played in the New Orleans Bowl
Thanks to the Helmet Project.