Les Miles at Kansas in an Oct. 31, 2020 game.

Welcome to the sporting event you’ve been waiting for.

Congratulations Vanderbilt (0-9) and Kansas (0-9)! You’ve been cordially invited to play in the fifth annual TheComeback.com Bowl. It’s the premier showcase event to determine the worst team in the FBS. The schools will meet this Saturday at H.A. Chapman Stadium in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The pandemic has made this a weird season, even by college football’s standards. Scheduling was an adventure. Some schools are skipping bowl games. But TheComeback.com Bowl is a postseason experience programs will want to opt into. 

For the winner:

  • 11 extra scholarships for next season
  • The program will be allowed a one-time NCAA extra benefits waiver
  • [New] $600 athletics department stimulus check 
  • [New] Dr. Anthony Fauci will certify that your campus is the safest place for five-star recruits

For the loser:

  • Relegated to the FCS*

(*Vacated FBS spot to be filled by the 2020 FCS champion.)

Here’s how we arrived at this year’s match-up: 

The College Football Playoff has made it clear: if you’re not a Power 5 conference member, you don’t matter. Kick rocks Coastal Carolina (11-0). Take a hike Cincinnati (9-0). Puh-lease San Jose State (7-0). In keeping with this farcical caste system, TheComeback.com Bowl only extended invites to Power 5 members. Louisiana-Monroe (0-10) doesn’t deserve mockery.

Vanderbilt and Kansas do. 

Here’s what you need to know:

Vanderbilt

Why does Vanderbilt play football? And for God’s sake, what are the Commodores doing in the meatgrinder known as the SEC? Must be a money grab for those sweet SEC TV dollars. In return, bluebloods Alabama, LSU, Florida, and Georgia get a guaranteed victory and the occasional trip to Nashville to crash a bachelorette party.

Since its inaugural season in the SEC in 1933, Vanderbilt has won as many conference titles as you (zero, zip, zilch). Its most famous gridiron alumnus is Jay Cutler, a man who’s synonymous with apathy (DON’T CARE!!! ) and was way better at reality TV than he was at being a pro quarterback.

People paid attention to Vanderbilt when James Franklin cobbled together back-to-back 9-4 seasons in 2012 and 2013 (Yes! Fourth place in the SEC Eastern Division!). Franklin deserved a genius grant from the MacArthur Fellowship for that accomplishment.

The man who succeeded Franklin had a tough act to follow. It wasn’t a surprise that Derek Mason finished with a losing record every year. What was surprising: Mason lasted seven seasons before being fired after 8 games this year.

How bad was Vanderbilt? Only three teams in the nation lost more games: Texas State (2-10), Syracuse (1-10), and Louisiana-Monroe (0-10). They averaged 14.8 points, third worst in nation. They had four (4!) rushing touchdowns. And this happened…

The Commodores imploded 41-7 at home to South Carolina (2-8), the second-worst team in the SEC. That wasn’t even their worst loss. Vanderbilt dropped a 41-0 decision at Missouri and were outgained 603-196. At least they had Sarah Fuller’s history-making kickoff to celebrate. The following week she made an extra-point in the 42-17 season finale vs. Tennessee. 

In hindsight, Mason was step up to fail. Vanderbilt was not equipped to play an SEC-only schedule. With no non-conference games, the Commodores never had a chance to build any confidence or continuity. The new guy in charge is Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea, a Vanderbilt alum and Nashville native. He’ll know where to find the good honky-tonks

Kansas

Kansas football feels like a necessary evil that Jayhawks fans must endure until the start of basketball season. The broccoli your mother force-feeds you before you can enjoy a cheeseburger. 

But recently there was hope. Kansas, which last had a winning season in 2008, shocked everybody when it hired Les Miles two years ago. The Jayhawks created a buzz that hasn’t really been seen since the glory days of Mark Mangino. Sure, there was cautious optimism with Turner Gill and Charlie Weis. But Miles was different. The Mad Hatter has a championship résumé, winning the 2007 title for LSU. 

Miles was fired despite a .770 winning percentage with LSU. If Miles goes .500 for his Kansas career, they will build a statue for this grass-eating weirdo (Mangino went 50-48 in his eight seasons). But so far, Miles has been just as lousy as his predecessors. 

He’s 3-17 with one Big 12 victory. Kansas has the longest active losing streak in the FBS, having dropped 13 in a row. The Jayhawks’ last victory was a 37-34 home decision over Texas Tech in October 2019. At least that’s not as embarrassing the 46-game road losing streak that ended a few years ago. Over the past decade, no major-conference program has been worse (Kansas (1-11) was invited to the 2017 TheComeback.com Bowl).

How bad was Kansas in 2020? The Jayhawks lost their first seven Big 12 games by at least 21 points. During one stretch, the Jayhawks fell to Iowa State, Oklahoma State, and TCU by a combined total of 173-to-54. Kansas’ chance to avoid a winless season ended in the 16-13 finale at Texas Tech. 

The Jayhawks surrendered 46 points per game, the worst in the country. Opponents averaged 5.81 yards per carry, third worst among Power 5 schools. On offense, they were the worst pass-blocking team in the country, allowing 47 sacks. That contributed to a scoring average of 15.8 points, fifth-lowest. If all that wasn’t awful enough, Miles tested positive for COVID-19

Kansas’ athletic director has given Miles a vote of confidence. What else is he going to say? Miles is in the second year of a five-year contract that pays him $2.7 million annually. These two are stuck with each other. Maybe things will get better with incoming four-star recruit running back Devin Neal, the highest-ever ranked high school signee in the program’s history.

Rock. Sulk. Jayhawk.

There you have it. Vanderbilt vs. Kansas! Sorry, no attendance this year at TheComeback.com Bowl. But one lucky fan will get to call the first offensive play of the game. Make it a double reverse, a flea flicker, or the fumblerooski. Have fun.

Enjoy the halftime musical act: Kane Brown!

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant, Anthony Grant, Amy Grant or Hugh Grant.