Vanderbilt's quarterback points to his teammate.
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The 5 Worst College Football Teams of 2023 Took Mediocrity to New Levels

College football is a tough sport that demands perfection, and five teams from the 2023 season were the opposite of that.

If you are a fan of football and movies, you probably know and love "Remember The Titans" and "Friday Night Lights." Both movies famously feature motivational speeches from coaches. Coach Gaines in "Friday Night Lights" says "We're in the business of winning. The expectations couldn't be any higher. We will win State. Can you be perfect?" Coach Herman Boone in "Remember The Titans" tells his players, "We will be perfect in every aspect of the game. You drop a pass, you run a mile. You miss a blocking assignment, you run a mile. You fumble the football, and I will break my foot off in your John Brown hind parts and then you will run a mile. Perfection. Let's go to work."

When you hear these quotes and look at the current state of college football, what teams do you think of? The Georgia Bulldogs probably come to mind. Maybe the Alabama Crimson Tide jump out at you. Big Ten heavyweights like the Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes are probably on that list as well. But being perfect is a tough thing to do in this game.

While everyone is debating the top four teams as College Football Playoff talks ramp up, we often forget about the deep dark abyss of absolute abysmal football. These teams are nowhere near being bowl-eligible let alone being in discussion for a conference title or national championship. Some of these teams play on Tuesdays and Wednesdays because of how bad they are, and even with some of their stadium being under construction they still cannot get any kind of home-field advantage from their fans. To put it nicely, they stink.

So, which teams spent the 2023 season as the bottom feeders of college football? How did they get there? How long have they been there? And how can they climb out of their current state of mediocrity?

5. Vanderbilt Commodores - 2-10 (0-8 in SEC)

AJ Swann looks to the sideline.

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The Vanderbilt Commodores are not the worst team in college football but they are the worst Power Five team in the country. Vanderbilt has been here for quite some time, as they have six winning seasons since 1960. Yes, you read that correctly. In more than 60 years of football, they have finished the season above .500 just six times. During that stretch, they have had one 0-win season, seven 1-win seasons, and 19 2-win seasons. They did see a glimmer of success from 2011 to 2013 when they posted three bowl appearances and two straight nine-win seasons under James Franklin, who left for Penn State. The Commodores need to start picking up wins in non-conference play and find a bordering state to build a pipeline in recruiting.

4. ECU Pirates - 2-10 (1-7 in AAC)

ECU coach Mike Houston looks on during a game.

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After four straight losing seasons, the ECU Pirates hired Mike Houston as their head coach in 2019. Houston's first two seasons brought the same result with a pair of losing seasons, but he would pick up seven and eight wins in 2021 and 2022, bringing some delight to the ECU fanbase. However, during the offseason, the Pirates saw some players leave for both the NFL and in the portal,  leading to a very disappointing 2023. Finishing with five or so wins would have been understandable, but two wins on the season and just one conference win is a massive step back for this program. The Pirates should improve in 2024, but their jump back into winning football should take place in 2025, as they currently sit atop the conference in the 2024 recruiting class rankings.

3. Akron Zips - 2-10 (1-7 in MAC)

Akron's kicker kicks a field goal.

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The Akron Zips used to be out of the bottom five of college football. They weren't great but they finished around .500 each year, so they maintained consistency of being average or just below average. However, they have just seven total wins over the last five seasons, with zero wins coming in 2019 and just one win in 2020. Joe Moorhead just finished his second year as head coach mirroring his win total his first season, with two overall wins and just one conference win. It is going to be a steep hill for the Zips to climb as their recruitment effort is about as difficult as it can be. Without even mentioning the surrounding schools, you have Ohio State obviously dominating the state and Cincinnati cleaning up their leftovers. Then you have half of the MAC that resides in the state of Ohio with Akron. Currently, they sit ninth in the conference but second-to-last among their in-state rivals.

2. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks - 2-10 (0-8 in Sun Belt)

A ULM player is tackled.

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In the 37-year history of the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks football program, they have finished with a winning record in just nine of those seasons. Now, 25% is not terrible but as a Group of Five member, you should have more to show than just one bowl appearance. Instead, you have a winless season, a couple of one-win seasons, and a handful of seasons with just two wins. The biggest concern is that including this season, the Warhawks have finished with zero conference wins in two of their last four seasons. The concern rose as the Warhawks were just one of two teams from the Sun Belt that did not make a bowl while the other 12 teams did. While the rest of the conference is getting stronger, the Warhawks are getting worse and need to pick up at least two conference wins, or else they'll earn a permanent membership in the bottom five.

1. Kent State Golden Flashes - 1-11 (0-8 in MAC)

Kent State's quarterback runs with the ball.

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Although they are currently at the very bottom of college football, do not get used to seeing the Kent State Golden Flashes on this list every year...just every other year. The Golden Flashes are about as up and down as you can get. Since 2010, Kent State has had one 10-win season, two MAC East division titles, three bowl appearances, and one bowl win. But it's also posted a 1-11 record in 2023 and just three winning seasons during that time. So, could Kent State be here next year? It's a coin flip. The positive is that while the MAC is arguably one of the worst conferences in college football it is also the most balanced. Aside from Eastern Michigan, every team in the MAC has made the conference title game at least once since 2009 and the conference has seen six different teams win the conference since 2016. While they face the same issue as Akron in recruiting, the parity of the MAC can help the Golden Flashes climb out of the bottom of the barrel.

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