Saturday, August 23, 2008

Barnhouse's Bottom 25: Louisiana Lafayette

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. 8 Louisiana Lafayette
Location: Lafayette, La.
Nickname: Ragin' Cajuns.
Conference: Sun Belt.
Coach: Rickey Bustle, 26-44 in six seasons.
Division I-A history: 460-489-31 in 100 seasons, .485 winning percentage.
Last bowl season: None. (Louisiana Lafayette played in the 1970 Grantland Rice Bowl, which is not recognized as a "major" bowl game.)
Best record in last five years: 6-5 in 2005.
Rank(ed) because: Bustle, a former Virignia Tech assistant, has a program that is built on a solid rushing attack (seventh in the Division I-A last season with 250 yards per game. The Ragin' Cajuns, though, can't do much else. They were 100th or worse in six statistical categories — passing offense, net punting, punt returns, rushing defense, total defense, scoring defense.
Negative number: 21. The scoring margin in last season's 38-17 loss at home to McNeese State, which in case you don't keep track of things is a Division I-AA team. Losing to a I-AA team — bad. Losing to a I-AA team that can use the victory as a bargaining chip for recruits in your home state — worse.
Possible victory: Florida International, Nov. 1. The visitors are one of the few teams that are ranked better (worse?) in the Bottom 25 than La-La. Considering the schedule before this game, the Ragin' Cajuns might be seeking their first victory when the Panthers travel to Louisiana.
Biggest blowout: At Illinois, Sept. 13. Playing a road game against a solid Big Ten team is a two-course menu for a big loss.
Is there hope?: Everywhere but in the win column. Bustle can boast of his team's classroom work that is producing an upward-tracking Academic Progress Rate. Season ticket sales are up, the school has built a new indoor practice facility with a new weight room next for construction. But the Ragin' Cajuns don't appear capable of moving North of the six-win level.

Thanks to the Helmet Project.

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