Unlike the College Football Playoff, we don't drag things out with a selection show here at the Bottom 25. Let's cut straight to the chase: Kent State finished the season at No. 1 in the Bottom 25 amid a 1-11 debut campaign for Kenni Burns. If you wondered why Sean Lewis left a head coach position at Kent State to go be Deion Sanders' offensive coordinator at Colorado, this season should give you a pretty good idea.
It is incredibly difficult to win at Kent State, and Lewis may have hit the program's ceiling by going 18-10 in MAC play during his final four seasons on the job. Lewis accounted for two of the program's three all-time bowl appearances during his five seasons on the job and refined his offensive scheme in the process.
Without him, the Golden Flashes suffered a mass exodus of talent and immediately returned to their historical losing ways with the program's first winless conference record since 2005. What Lewis accomplished at Kent State is why you're hearing his name bandied about in connection to various head coaching openings, even after Sanders stripped him of play-calling duties with the Buffaloes late this season.
Here are the final Bottom 25 rankings of the season. Stay tuned for the playoffs in just a couple of weeks. As the No. 1 ranked team, the Golden Flashes are in excellent position to hoist the trophy. But there are plenty of other bad FBS teams that may give them a run for their money.
Bottom 25 rankings
After years as the QB1 of the Bottom 25, Tom Fornelli has passed the baton to David Cobb this season. We're still using Fornelli's power rankings to determine the order -- with the No. 1 ranking belonging to the worst FBS team -- but the written jabs are from Cobb.
|Hawaii rose 11 spots with a season-ending win over Colorado State, but the Rainbow Warriors fell just short of escaping the Bottom 25. Perhaps Hawaii fans will argue it's unfair that their squad is the only 5-win team featured here. But the Rainbow Warriors also got a 13th regular season game that others didn't. (Last week: 14)
|The 2023 Virginia football season certainly wasn't boring, as six of UVa's games were decided by four points or less. Freshman quarterback Anthony Colandrea added to the entertainment factor in a serious way with his fearlessness and productivity. If you aren't going to be good, at least be interesting. The Cavaliers were in 2023. (NR)
|The Hoosiers lost their final three games by a total of 10 points. Perhaps if a couple of those went the other direction, coach Tom Allen wouldn't have been fired and IU wouldn't be here. But after posting a 9-27 (3-24 Big Ten) record over the past three seasons, IU is going in a new direction. (23)
|22. Western Michigan
|Western Michigan lost its final two games against Northern Illinois and Bowling Green by a combined margin of 58-10. It's almost like the Broncos decided in mid-November that they wanted the national recognition of finishing in the Bottom 25. (25)
|Tulsa finally won a close game! The Golden Hurricane squeaked out a 29-27 win at East Carolina to close the season, ending a six-game losing streak that featured four one-possession losses. Defensive improvement will be paramount if the Kevin Wilson era is going to produce results. (11)
|So you wanted to be a Power Five program, eh? Welcome to big leagues, Cincinnati. Hope your fans are enjoying the Big 12 money, because they sure didn't enjoy the football. Go ahead and build the Luke Fickell statue, because what he did with the Bearcats from 2018-2022 will never be replicated. (NR)
|19. Louisiana Tech
|The inverse of the Air Raid is the Ground Stampede. That's the defense the Bulldogs ran in 2023 while ranking 129th in rushing defense. Every opponent surpassed 100 yards rushing against the Bulldogs, and Jacksonville State poured it on with 522 yards rushing in a season-ending 56-17 loss for Louisiana Tech. (17)
|18. Arizona State
|Oregon and Arizona combined to outscore Arizona State 108-36 over the season's final two weeks. ASU fans will be clinging to the good memories of wins over Washington State and UCLA in Year 1 under Kenny Dillingham. That should help them cope with how irritating it must be that Arizona is presently lightyears ahead of the Sun Devils on the rebuilding path. (22)
|After posing a 3-9 record in Year 6, Dana Dimel is out as coach. The Miners made one bowl during his tenure, which is about what you'd expect for this program. Now, someone else gets a crack at one of the toughest FBS jobs. (20)
|FIU finished 1-16 during the two seasons prior to Mike MacIntyre's arrival, so consecutive 4-8 seasons isn't terrible. But this year was disappointing since the Golden Panthers started 3-1. From there, it was all double-digit losses, with a lone win over FBS newcomer Sam Houston mixed in. (19)
|The memory of a 12-2 season in 2021 is sure doing a lot for Dave Aranda, who is just 23-25 (15-21 Big 12) in four seasons but on track to get Year 5 at Baylor. Take out that memorable Sugar Bowl season and the Bears are just 11-23 under his direction. A good guy? Yes. A good head coach? That's questionable after a 3-9 campaign. (18)
|Year 1 for Troy Taylor went about like most expected. The Cardinal matched the three-win total the program posted in the two seasons before his arrival. Winning at Stanford in the NIL and transfer portal era will be far more of an uphill climb than it was for Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw in a bygone time for the sport. (21)
|13. Sam Houston
|Sam Houston won three of its final four games to salvage some dignity from a frustrating first season at the FBS level. The former FCS powerhouse repeatedly suffered excruciating losses before getting it together in November. (7)
|Buffalo bookended a stretch of three wins in four games with four straight losses to begin the season and four straight losses to end the season. The Bulls simply had no offensive juice in Year 3 under Maurice Linguist. (15)
|UConn finished with consecutive victories yet still barely escaped the Bottom 10 because of how horribly the first 10 games game went in Year 2 under Jim Mora. Expected to compete for another bowl berth, the Huskies instead returned to their historically woeful ways. (5)
|The adulation Matt Rhule receives for guiding Temple to consecutive 10-win seasons in 2015 and 2016 continues to make more sense as the years go by. Temple is 10-33 over the last four seasons after wrapping a third consecutive 3-9 campaign. If talented quarterback E.J. Warner sticks around, there will be at least some optimism for 2024. (12)
|Charlotte's three victories came against FCS foe South Carolina State and fellow Bottom 25 teams East Carolina and Tulsa. There wasn't much to inspire hope that the 49ers will strike gold anytime soon as the Biff Poggi era lumbers down the runway. (13)
|8. East Carolina
|Good news: a week after announcing that offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick won't return, East Carolina posted a season-best 409 yards of offense. Bad news: the Pirates committed five turnovers and lost 29-27 against a Bottom 25 Tulsa team to cap a miserable year for a program coming off a Birmingham Bowl win. (9)
|When both your quarterbacks enter the transfer portal within 72 hours of the season's conclusion, it's a sign that things didn't go well. That's an understatement in Vanderbilt's case, as the Commodores closed with 10 straight losses, including nine by 16 or more points. Clark Lea is 2-22 in SEC play through three seasons. (10)
|A 3-9 record isn't worth celebrating at most places. At UMass, it's a breakthrough season. The Minutemen won a combined three games over the prior four seasons and matched that total on Nov. 4 this year. However, they squandered a golden opportunity to close on a high note by losing 31-18 at home to UConn on Saturday. (8)
|5. Southern Miss
|Southern Miss returned running back Frank Gore from a team that won the LendingTree Bowl. But the Golden Eagles were unable to capitalize on his talent. Nonetheless, Gore surpassed 1,000 yards rushing for a second consecutive season and reached 4,000 yards for his career. (6)
|Akron finished 1-5 in one-possession games. There were also plenty of blowout losses along the way for the Zips, who have cemented their place as one of the worst FBS programs over the last six seasons. Joe Moorhead seemed like a great hire, but he's just 4-20 through two seasons. (3)
|ULM fired Terry Bowden after his third season ended with a 10-game losing streak. The Warhawks are one of only two Sun Belt teams that didn't win at least six games. Considering the program has been to one bowl game ever, it may struggle to attract quality candidates. (4)
|Nevada was an easy pick for No. 1 early in the season after a 33-6 home loss to FCS foe Idaho. The Wolf Pack rallied with consecutive Mountain West wins over San Diego State and New Mexico in October before losing their final four games. Ken Wilson is off to a 4-20 start after predecessor Jay Norvell led the program to four straight bowls. (2)
|1. Kent State
|Of Kent State's 11 losses, 10 came by double digits. The only exception was a 31-27 loss against an Akron team that finished No. 4 in the Bottom 25. The Golden Flashes' lone win came against Central Connecticut State, which finished 3-8 at the FCS level. (1)
No longer ranked: Ball State, San Diego State