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The Bottom 10 inspirational thought of the week:
"But he hasn't got anything on!" the whole town cried out at last.
The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right.
But, he thought, "This procession has got to go on."
So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all.
-- "The Emperor's New Clothes," Hans Christian Andersen
The Bottom 10 loves a good fairy tale. So filled with magic, splendor and endless possibility.
It's a fairy tale time of year for college football fans. The grueling, nightmarish offseason months have finally given way to the familiar sights, smells and sounds of a new season.
It wasn't a fairy tale ending for Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. He became tangled up and twisted in a web of lies after a Series of Unfortunate Events that would have left even Lemony Snicket speechless.
Petrino earned the coveted No. 5 spot in the preseason Bottom 10 after the No. 10-ranked Razorbacks ousted him for his antics in April. He spun a good yarn in his defense, but it took less time than an Ohio State Twitter ban to pull at the threads and unravel his tall tale, laying bare the Hogs coach's deceit for all to see.
The cupboard is far from empty in Fayetteville, however. The Razorbacks have a cast of characters capable of writing a storybook ending in 2012. And their opportunity to vanquish SEC West foes Alabama and LSU will come on their home field.
There are also new friends to introduce to the Bottom 10, as Texas State, South Alabama, Massachusetts and Texas-San Antonio will write the first chapters in their FBS histories this season. What kind of tale will they tell? We'll have to wait and see. The Roadrunners and Jaguars get acquainted Saturday in the 2012 season's first Pillowfight of the Week.
With apologies to Steve Harvey, Hans Christian Andersen, The Brothers Grimm, Lemony Snicket and all of Aesop's Fables, here is the 2012 preseason Bottom 10.
|ESPN.com's Bottom 10|
|1.||Akron||1-11||"The Little Mermaid": A descendent of coaching royalty washed up on Akron's win-barren shores. Terry Bowden may soon find life under the sea more appealing.|
|2.||New Mexico||1-11||"Sleeping Beauty": Has Bob Davie arrived to wake the Lobos from their nightmarish slumber? The past few seasons have all been a bad dream, haven't they?|
|3.||Florida Atlantic||1-11||"The Tortoise and the Hare": FAU has been overtaken by FIU in the race for F_U supremacy. But the Owls are just lulling the Panthers into a false sense of security before they make their move. Right?|
|4.||Indiana||1-11||"Three Little Pigs": If you can't beat them ban them! The path to a Leaders Division title is clear two teams before kickoff, but no matter how much the Hoosiers huff and puff, they're likely headed for a brick wall in the Big Ten.|
|5.||Arkansas||11-2||"The Ugly Duckling": After an ugly offseason, is there a beautiful ending on the horizon for the Razorbacks? Perhaps an SEC coronation?|
|6.||Idaho||2-10||"Jack and the Beanstalk": Fee-fi-fo-fum, the WAC as we knew it is now done. Neither magic beans, golden eggs nor a magical harp could save the Vandals' home from dissolving.|
|7.||Texas State||6-6*||"Rumpelstiltskin": Spinning straw into gold is one thing, but turning a .500 FCS team into a competitive FBS program may prove a more onerous task.|
|8.||South Alabama||6-4*||"Puss In Boots": The Jaguars will need all the tricks and feline felicity they can muster, but even nine lives might not even be enough in Year 1 in the FBS.|
|9.||Massachusetts||5-6*||"Thumbelina": UMass won't come across any giants in the MAC. An early matchup against Indiana will be a good tune-up for what the Minutemen can expect in their new conference.|
|10.||UTSA||4-6*||"Hansel and Gretel": It will be trial by fire in Year 1 for UTSA as FBS foes will look to make an easy meal of the Roadrunners.|
Denotes FCS record
Conor Nevins is a college football editor for ESPN.com.