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Even fake coaches are making fun of Memphis now

September 12, 2011  |  By Benjamin Miraski

When a fake coach Twitter account starts making fun of your team, you can bet you aren't very good.

Early Monday morning, FakeBobPetrino threw a jab at the Memphis Tigers who were trounced 47-3 by Arkansas State.

"Reason #19 Why The Hogs Don't Play Arkansas State: One loss to The Red Wolves, and they want heads"

A link led to Geoff Calkins' excellent deconstruction of the Memphis football program and the school's athletic director, R.C. Johnson. Perhaps there should have been hints that Memphis was in free fall when Tommy West left the program, whining about support.

Everyone thought it was a big joke. After all, what coach thinks he actually deserves to get fired.

But the loss Saturday was another sign of a team that is drowning.

Calkins asserts that Memphis is the worst team in college football, and the numbers bear him out.

While it is too early to release the MRI numbers -- the data is just not connected enough -- Memphis has already sunk to the bottom of the list, and has a sizable hold on No. 120.

The Tigers were obliterated in week 1 by Mississippi State before the loss to Arkansas State. Since both those teams are 1-1, the weighted margin of victory component has kicked in with full force. So the Tigers sit with a -30.66 MRI score. UNLV is comfortably trailing at just -7.48 for No. 119.

It is easy to see why Memphis is where it is. They barely have 250 yards of offense per game, which isn't worst in the league, but is pretty far down the list.

But the real mess is on the defensive end. Memphis is currently giving up almost 700 yards per game.

No, that isn't a typo. Nevada is next worst at 603 yards, and the Wolf Pack have played just one game, getting run over by Oregon.

To truly stick on the defensive side of the ball for two straight weeks, especially when one of those teams is Arkansas State, is impressive. And while it would be nice to say it can't get any worse, the fact that their offensive numbers aren't yet truly terrible means the Tigers could sink even further in the comparative stats by the end of the season.

This isn't only a one season problem though. Memphis finished last in the MRI in 2010. That version of the team had an MRI of -79.27, which amazingly wasn't the worst performance ever in the rankings. Along with the entire state of New Mexico, Eastern Michigan and Akron, Memphis headed a solid group of five horrid teams.

The season before that, Memphis avoided the basement, but still finished solidly in the bottom 10 teams.

In case the first two weeks stunned the fans too much to remember, this was a team that went to three straight bowl games from 2003 to 2005 and then two more in 2007 and 2008.

But since then, the Tigers have managed just 3 wins -- Middle Tennessee State, Tennessee-Martin and inexplicably UTEP.

This is a team in free fall and it doesn't look like the bottom is coming anytime soon.

This is supposed to be the point in the season when teams can still dream. Even the Conference USA teams that get big payouts for taking a loss play Sun Belt or Division 1-AA schools to pad the records.

Teams like Washington State and Eastern Michigan, perennial doormats, are 2-0 (and highly ranked in the MRI, which is another reason to say it is too early to release the rankings).

If the computer ratings were published today, the MAC would have four teams in the top 25, a conference that averaged a negative MRI score for the last two seasons.

Memphis shouldn't be crying already, but there is probably a run on tissues in the athletic department.

And the story is worse. Calkins wrote that the school loses $2 million per year on football. When even the body bag games don't help cover the cost of a dreadful team like this, any university has to start wondering about the sanity of keeping a team on the field.

There is hope for Memphis. Temple went from being a bottom of the barrel school for football and is looking like it might contend for the conference title this season. This was a team that was finishing among the worst teams in the computer rankings since they started in 2003. Central Florida flipped its fortunes and looks to be a prime candidate in the next round of conference expansion.

But until either the turnaround happens, or someone pulls the plug, Memphis can continue its assault on the record books.

North Texas finished the 2008 season at 1-11, with a -87.61 MRI score, the worst performance registered by the computer. The not so Mean Green averaged 362 yards of offense to their opponents 483. They turned the ball over 33 times compared to just 16 takeaways.

The one win came over a Western Kentucky team transitioning into the FBS. But the start of the season for North Texas was what made it truly awful.

They lost to Kansas State, Tulsa, LSU, Rice and Florida International, by a combined 261-65, while starting 0-5. And at least they had some offense.

As for Memphis, well, it is always good to have something to shoot for.

   

Posted September 12, 2011 11:45 AM

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