Sunday, August 17, 2008

Barnhouse's Bottom 25: Akron

Legendary sportswriter Wendell Barnhouse recently left the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and is now a correspondent for Big 12 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. 14 Akron
Location: Akron, Ohio.
Nickname: Zips.
Conference: Mid-American, East Division.
Coach: J.D. Brookhart, 22-26 in four seasons.
Division I-A history: 477-458-37 in 107 seasons, .509 winning percentage.
Last bowl season: 2005.
Best record last five years: 7-5 in 2003.
Rank(ed) because: This is a program that needs more (warning: bad pun alert) ... zip. Akron has been neither awesome nor awful (since World War II, one 10-win season, no winless seasons). Brookhart dismissed seven key players before the 2007 season. Instead of building on the four previous seasons that totaled 25 wins, Akron took a step back.
Negative number: Akron is 1-17 against Big Ten Conference teams. The only victory? That came just a few years before Lee Corso was born — in 1894 against Ohio State.
Possible victory: At Army, Sept. 20. Akron should take the field with a chance to beat an Army team that is also in the preseason Bottom 25.
Biggest blowout: At Wisconsin, Aug. 30: The Badgers' offense has been high-octane the last few seasons. The Zips' defense was below average last season and has to replace half of its starters.
Is there hope?: Brookhart is a solid coach who made a gutsy decision dismissing key players before last season. For good or bad, that might be the defining moment of his tenure. Akron is playing its final season in the venerable Rubber Bowl (opened: 1940). Next season the Zips will play in the 30,000-seat, on-campus InfoCision Stadium.

Thanks to the Helmet Project.

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