Posted on: January 25, 2010 9:44 pm

Bullet's All-time Top 10 Programs

It's hard to believe the 2010 college football season will be the 142nd season played.  We can only imagine what that first game played between Rutgers and Princeton way back in 1869 was like, and how college football evolved into what it is today.  Although I'm a Buckeye, I have to give some props to Michigan for helping to get college football on the national map.  We have to consider them one of the "founding fathers" if you will.  After all, they had already played 10 seasons and won 19 games before most of today's big time programs played their first game.  Since then, there have been plenty of great programs demonstrate consistency in winning over the years.  I'm not just talking about winning football games on a regular basis season after season, I'm talking about programs who consistently won high profile games, conference championships and national championships.  I examined all 25 of these programs and determined my top 10 of all-time.  We've seen other people come up with their top 10 all-time programs, but I believe I've determined mine a little differently.  Yes, conference and national championships are important when doing the type of research I did, but there is so much more to a program than championships.  As we all know, prior to the BCS starting in 1998 (130 seasons after the Rutgers-Princeton game), the national champ was decided by a poll, and some polls and foundations crowned different champions for a single season.  A little further back in history, the champion was determined before the bowl games were played.  I'm not saying the national champions of the past weren't deserving, however some of them did lose their bowl game, so I think you know what I mean.  I did give programs credit for winning national championships, and conference championships as well.  But those were just two of 16 areas examined:

- Total number of wins
- Overall winning percentage
- Wins over season-ranked top 25 teams (1936-2009)
- Winning percentage against season-ranked top 25 teams
- Wins over season-ranked top 10 teams
- Winning percentage against season-ranked top 10 teams
- Number of 10 or more win seasons
- Number of undefeated, untied seasons
- Number of winning seasons
- Number of losing seasons
- Wins over opponents considered major at gametime
- Bowl game wins
- Number of top 25 rankings in the final polls (since 1936)
- Number of top 10 rankings in the final polls
- Number of conference championships (outright and shared recognized by the associated conference)
- Number of national championships (outright and shared recognized by the NCAA)

If a program placed first in any of the above categories, the program earned 30 points.  Programs that tied received the same number of points.  Programs placing second earned 24 points, third earned 23 points and so on.  If two programs tied for second in a category, both earned 24 points and the third place program earned 22.  The same concept was used for ties in other placings.  Pretty easy math.

I tried to come up with enough areas to look at each program's full body of work.  So without further delay, here are my top 10 programs of all-time based on my criteria:

1.  MICHIGAN:  Michigan earned 389 points, placing first in seven of the 16 categories above.  Michigan is first in total wins, winning percentage, has the most undefeated seasons, the most winning seasons, the most wins over opponents considered major at gametime, and the most top 25 and top 10 final rankings.  Michigan might have had a few tough seasons lately, but if history tells us anything, they'll be back winning a boat load of games and contending for championships very soon.  They are so entrenched at the top, it would take a decade or two of Michigan losing year after year and the next best programs winning games and championships consecutively over the same period to even catch up. 

2.  OKLAHOMA:  The Sooners earned 381 points and placed first in four of the 16 categories.  Michigan and Oklahoma combined for nearly 70 percent of the first place points.  Quite impressive if you ask me.  Oklahoma placed first in winning percentage against season-ranked top 25 and top 10 opponents, has the most 10 or more win seasons, and was tied with three other programs for the least number of losing seasons.

t3.  ALABAMA:  The Crimson Tide have been rolling, and rolling and rolling over the years.  They earned 346 points and tied with USC for first in number of bowl game wins with 32 victories.  The Tide placed high in most of the 16 categories, as expected out of one of the nation's best all-time programs.  There has been some great coaches throughout college football's history, and Alabama was one of the lucky ones to have arguably the greatest in Bear Bryant.  

t3.  TEXAS:  Alabama and Texas tied for third place in my top 10, both with 346 points.  I would say the Longhorns have been rolling, and rolling and rolling as well, but it just wouldn't sound right.  They have been hookin' most of their opponents over the years though, because when you aren't losing, you're winning and Texas is one of the four programs tied for the least number of losing seasons at just 12 in their storied history.  They are also second to Michigan in all-time wins. 

5.  NOTRE DAME:  Notre Dame earned 341 points, and had I been able to give them points for conference championships, they probably would've came in second behind Michigan.  I'm sure the Irish would have won a few in their day, in any of the major conferences.  I absolutely loved the story of Rudy...just a small part of arguably the most storied program in college football history.  Notre Dame placed first in three of the 16 categories examined.  The Irish have won the most NCAA recognized national championships and have the most wins over season-ranked top 25 and top 10 teams.  This past decade hasn't been too kind to the Irish, but under new leadership they seem poised to make a comeback.  Like Michigan, if history tells us anything...look out for the Irish.

6.  USC:  Southern Cal came in right behind Notre Dame with 339 points, tying Alabama with the nation's most bowl victories at 32.  USC has been one of the most consistent programs in college football, and is well deserving of top 10 all-time discussion.  They have dominated the PAC 10 conference for most seasons and came in 4th for most conference championships.  They've done nothing but prove their worth season after season.  Their opponents in those 32 bowl victories would confirm that.  Coming in 2nd best for number of NCAA recognized national championships is no shabby stat either.

7.  OHIO STATE:  The Buckeyes are another one of those consistent programs, never down for too long.  They come in 7th all-time with 326 points earned tying for the least number of losing seasons at 12.  This tradition and history rich program has done battle for Big 10 supremacy with their friends up north for over 100 years.  Since the early 1900's, Ohio State and Michigan have battled for all or part of 70 Big 10 championships, and placed 1-2 in the league 15 times since the 1968 season.  The Buckeyes came in 2nd for most wins over opponents considered major at gametime and number of top 25 final rankings. 

8.  NEBRASKA:  When I think of Nebraska football, one word comes to mind...power.  Nebraska has had some of the most powerful teams in all of college football, knocking their opponents every which way all over the football field.  With 298 points earned, they come in strong at #8 all-time.  The Cornhuskers are the nation's winningest team the last 50 years and is only one of seven programs to reach 800 or more wins all-time.  Nebraska has won 46 conference championships, more than any other program.

9.  TENNESSEE:  If there is one song associated with college football that I absolutely love, it has to be Good Ole Rocky Top.  But that song is not why the Vols come in at #9 in my all-time top 10 programs with 260 points.  The reason is for what they've accomplished on the football field, and that my friends is a lot.  This program produced perhaps the greatest QB to ever play the game in Peyton Manning, along with a laundry list of other great players.  And what can be said of Neyland Stadium, one of the most exciting venues in all of college football, a place where Tennessee can't seem to lose very often.  They have won 507 games there...3rd winningest all-time on home field.

10.  PENN STATE:  Penn State rounds out the top 10, and deservingly so with 246 points earned.  Joe Paterno, the coach with the most wins in division 1A, is the face of this great program and it will indeed be a sad day for college football when he steps aside.  The Nittany Lions come in 2nd all-time in bowl victories with 27.  Like the Cornhuskers, Penn State is one of just seven programs with over 800 wins.  The Lions are 8th nationally with seven undefeated/untied seasons.

An all-time top 10 list wouldn't be the same without some honorable mentions, so here are the programs who came in 11-15, and are deserving of a place at the table with the big dogs ranked above them:

LSU 214 points, Georgia 211 points, Florida State 200 points, Miami (FL) 187 points, Auburn and Florida 184 points

Posted on: August 24, 2009 12:11 pm

The Oklahoma and Ohio State Predicament

A great coach once said, “The only meaningful statistic is number of games won.”  Number of games won is a very important statistic, because without wins, a team and/or program would not be able to accomplish much, obviously.  Many programs today would take a nine win season in a heartbeat, especially those who are used to winning only five or six a season.  Many of your powerhouse programs look at a nine win season as a “rebuilding” year.  We’ve seen in the BCS era, teams with 11 or 12 wins at the end of the season are usually eagerly waiting to see if they’ll be factored into the BCS bowl series, or more importantly, in the ultimate prize…the BCS title game.  A team with nine wins usually isn’t in that mix.  Therefore, the great coach was right.  Number of wins is the most important statistic of them all.  It was true in his time, and is still true today.  But it doesn’t necessarily translate into a national title.  Not in these days of the FBS.  Therefore, as we know, only one team can claim national champion status each season...the one with that crystal trophy.  That doesn’t mean all other teams stink, even the one that loses to the one with that crystal trophy.  I believe the majority of fans are losing sight of the big picture in college football today.  Please keep reading.

Many fans evaluate a particular team or program based on its recent achievements, like winning a specific conference or a national title.  Although I don’t have a problem with this per say, I don’t like it when I hear things like Nebraska couldn’t even beat a high school team today, Oklahoma is “Choker U”, Michigan is no longer the king of college football, or Ohio State has no heart and can’t win a big game, and that these programs are no longer “elite”.  There’s more to these programs than the last several seasons that still make them elite today, and each have already accomplished more than most other programs in college football ever will.  I truly believe there is a southern bias within the media that causes a lot of this, and it has only come about within the BCS era, or near the tail end of the bowl alliance in the 90’s.  The myth that programs in the south have an advantage over the rest of the nation’s programs due to speedy athletes is another one that mind boggles me.  All of this is just pure myth, and the media mass-feeds it to fans year after year.  You’ll find players just as talented and fast in every region of the country, to include the midwest and the north.   I heard just yesterday on ESPN during a college football segment, Brent Musburger made a comment that the SEC is the best football conference in 2009.  Hey Brent, the pigskin hasn’t even been snapped yet!  Its comments like these that get fans going.

There’s no doubt Ohio State has faced a lot of scrutiny the past several years as a result of losing national titles to Florida and LSU, and a few other high profile games.  I’ve heard it all from Ohio State didn’t deserve to be there to Ohio State players don’t have the heart or desire to win big games.  I’ve even heard talk about how Ohio State didn’t deserve to win the national title in 2002, after they beat a team (fair and square) that dominated it’s opponents that season by an average score of 42-18.  Instead of complaining why Ohio State was overrated and didn’t belong in the 2007 national title game, look at the reason(s) why they got there.  In the case of 2007, teams that probably should have been playing for a title lost big games at the end of the season which in-turn prevented their appearance.  Missouri and West Virginia seem to come to my mind.  Talk about Ohio State losing big games.  LSU probably shouldn’t have been there either.  Oklahoma has had their fair share of scrutiny as well, if not more than OSU.  The fact of the matter is Oklahoma has won more games than 118 other FBS programs during the BCS era.  I sure don’t hear them getting any credit for accomplishing that.  Way to go Sooners!  I’ve also heard how people wish Oklahoma and Ohio State could play in a bowl game…to determine the real “Choker U” for the decade, and that they’d have to call it the Choker Bowl.  How demeaning and disrespectful is that?  What we’d actually have is two of the nation’s top five winningest programs in the BCS era squaring off.  It would, without doubt, be one of the best and most entertaining games of the decade.  Perhaps this game is well overdue.

Ohio State has lost against the following teams in high profile games:  2005 to #1 Texas, 2005 to #3 Penn State, 2006 to #1 Florida, 2007 to #1 LSU, 2008 to #2 USC, 2008 to #8 Penn State, and the last loss to #3 Texas in the ’09 Fiesta Bowl.  Ohio State has a record of 43-8 since 2005, with the eighth loss to #18 Illinois in 2007.  Between the 1998 and 2004 seasons, Ohio State posted a 65-22 record which includes a 4-2 bowl record.  The four wins were in high profile BCS bowl games.  So since 1998, Ohio State has enjoyed a 108-30 overall record…5th best in the nation.  2002 was a national championship season for the Buckeyes.

Oklahoma has lost against the following teams in high profile games: 2005 to #1 Texas, 2007 to #6 Boise State, 2008 to #6 West Virginia, 2008 to #3 Texas, and finally to #1 Florida in the ’08 BCS title game.  Oklahoma is 42-12 since 2005 and lost five other games to teams season-ranked at #9, #13, #19, #13, and #23.  The other two losses were to unranked teams on the road.  Between the 1998-2004 seasons, Oklahoma had accumulated 72 wins and just 18 losses to include a 3-3 bowl record.  Since 1998, their record stands at 114-30…tied for 2nd best nationally.  2000 was a national championship season for the Sooners.

The programs that have been on top as of late, Florida and LSU.  Both with two crystal balls since 2003, and Florida is eyeing their third in four seasons.  That is just incredible!  The only other program in FBS college football history to claim three national titles in a four year span is Nebraska.  Florida definitely has the ingredients within their ’09 squad to follow in those footsteps, and make their own history in college football.  But both of these programs have suffered failures, just like Ohio State and Oklahoma have the past few seasons.  I have a ton of respect for the programs at LSU and Florida, but I use them as my example because they have been on top the past few seasons, and they are current in the fan’s mind.  Sometimes it sucks being the best.  Ohio State and Oklahoma fans know where you’re coming from.  First off I can guarantee no program has faced the gauntlet of opponents Ohio State has since 2005.  Name one program that has faced three season-ranked #1 teams, a season-ranked #2 team, two #3 season-ranked teams, and a #8 season-ranked team and nine game-ranked top five-ranked opponents with all but one of them ranked  #1, #2, or #3 in the last four seasons.  I can name the only one…Ohio State.  Yes, I know, Ohio State has lost to the last five of these opponents.  Okay, now check this out:  Florida can claim losses in six consecutive tries in games against top 10 opponents during the 1999-2000 seasons.  It happened again 2003 through 2005, this time five consecutive losses to top 10 programs.  Many in Gator Nation will claim it was Zook’s fault all of this happened.  But let’s go back a little further…to the Spurrier years.  During the 1992-93 seasons, Florida lost four consecutive games to top 10 opponents.  And let’s not forget about that barn burner of a game in Tempe back in 1996, against Nebraska.  I think the final score was something in the area of 62-24.   See, not even Florida is immune to consecutive losses in high profile games, but that’s okay.  Every program has, and will go through spells like this.  LSU...man I have to make a game in Death Valley one of these days.  That atmosphere at night must be electrifying!  LSU has lost some consecutive high profile games themselves.  During the 1998 through 2001 seasons, LSU lost five consecutive high profile matchups.  They lost three more during the 2004 season.  I don’t think they are blaming any particular coach though.  I know LSU fans want to forget about last season, and look ahead to the success LSU might have in ’09.  Don’t’ get me wrong, I like LSU.  I will definitely make one of those night games…maybe even this year.  Anyone have tickets to the Florida game they want to be rid of?  I like Florida too, and would like to attend a matchup in the Swamp one day as well.  Too bad Mr. Two-Bits isn’t around anymore.  I would have liked to meet him.  What a dandy he was!  Good luck to the Gators this season, as they try to make college football history.

Folks, I could go on and on with this.  I can take the nation’s top 10 programs over the last 20 seasons and find where they didn’t quite perform to expectations in consecutive high profile matchups.  No program is immune.  So why don’t we lay off Ohio State and Oklahoma…because the next team these guys could beat might be your favorite team.  Then what?

I’ll apologize right now, in the case I offended any Florida or LSU fans/alum.  Like I said, those programs are on top of the world right now and this is why I used them as examples.  Any Sooner or Buckeye will tell you, sometimes it sucks being at the top.  Just enjoy your time there, because the history of sports surely teaches us that it won’t last long.  Then after the dust settles, we’ll have another predicament to talk about.

The new season is right around the corner.  Let's enjoy it, and show good fansmanship. 

Category: NCAAF
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com