THE TOP TEN All-Time College Football Programs
With the college football season almost upon us, I am predictably excited. To fan the flames, I decided to throw my two cents in about what I believe to be the ten best college football programs of all-time. recently released what it calls Prestige Ranking of the 119 FBS schools since 1936. My list differs from theirs, in that I give more weight to how a program has done over the last 30 years. Frankly, the fact that Notre Dame won four national titles in the '40s is all well and good, but it doesn't mean as much as if they had won four national titles in the '90s. Of course, a program that has consistently been at or near the top consistently will be rewarded accordingly.

Four notes:
1. These are only FBS (formerly D 1-A) teams. Mount Union, be damned!
2. I'm only counting
With the college football season almost upon us, I am predictably excited. To fan the flames, I decided to throw my two cents in about what I believe to be t...  more


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Rank  (best ever) 9
Score  (all time) 15897.00
Created 08/18/09
Views 15785
Votes 5
Author: GMYH
DISAGREE? CLICK TO RANK YOUR TOP TEN All-Time College Football Programs!


USC. 47 bowls (31-16); 7 National Titles (1962, 1967, 1972, 1974 (Coaches), 1978 (Coaches), 2003, 2004 (BCS/AP/Coaches)). Losing seasons since 1936: 10. This was a tough call between USC and Oklahoma. Both have been relatively dominant for a long time. Both have seven national titles, and USC has the highest bowl winning percentage of FBS teams. USC has been to 33 Rose Bowls and has lost only 9. Of course, it's in their backyard, but still, that's impressive. Overall, though, it's tough to argue with USC's track record, unless of course, you're . . .



Oklahoma. 42 bowls (24-17-1); 7 National Titles (1950, 1955, 1956, 1974, 1975, 1985, 2000 (BCS/AP/Coaches)). Losing seasons since 1936: 6. The Sooners have only six losing seasons since 1936, second only to Ohio State's five. By contrast, during that same span, my beloved Indiana Hoosiers -- who share the colors of cream and crimson with Oklahoma, but little else -- have had 50 losing seasons. Oklahoma is also the winningest Post-WWII program. The Sooners rank at the top of the list of most 10-win seasons (30 -- eight more than second-place Alabama), most 11-win seasons (17), most weeks ranked #1 in the AP poll (97), and most weeks ranked in the AP top 5 (324 -- 30 weeks ahead of second-place Nebraska). Enough said.



Notre Dame. 29 bowls (14-15); 8 National Titles (1943, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1966, 1973, 1977, 1988). Losing seasons since 1936: 10. If this list was being made twenty years ago, Notre Dame would certainly be in the top four. The Domers have the most national championships (8), but their last one was in 1988 and, as mentioned above, half of their national titles came before 1950. They have also been to the fewest bowls of any team on this list, which is due in large part to its own athletic department's policy (see note #3 above). Of course, if the present is any predictor, then maybe it was for the best. Last season, Notre Dame's Hawaii Bowl victory snapped its record of nine consecutive bowl losses.



Alabama. 56 bowls (31-23-3); 7 National Titles (1961, 1964, 1965, 1973 (Coaches), 1978, 1979, 1992). Losing seasons since 1936: 10 (not counting forfeited wins); 13 (counting forfeited wins). The Crimson Tide have been to more bowls than any other school, and are tied with USC for most bowl victories. The Tide has a record 8 undefeated and untied seasons, and has a winning record against every other SEC school. However, a steady stream of NCAA infractions over the past 15 years have taken away victories, resulted in post-season bans, and hurt the reputation of Alabama. Also, they haven't quite returned to their Bear Bryant-era glory. Since Bryant left after the 1982 season, Alabama has only 4 SEC championships and six "major" bowl berths (Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, and Cotton). By comparison, over that same span, USC and Oklahoma have each been to 13 major bowls, and Nebraska has been to 18. Had Alabama been better over that span, this would have been a much tougher list.



(tie) Ohio State. 40 bowls (18-22); 5 National Titles (1942, 1954, 1957 (Coaches), 1968, 2002 (BCS/AP/Coaches)). Losing seasons since 1936: 5. In good conscience, I couldn't put Michigan or Ohio State above the other. Originally, I had Ohio State above, but then took a look at Michigan's overall accomplishments, and it's hard to argue, especially considering Michigan has more wins, a higher winning percentage, a bigger stadium, a higher bowl winning percentage, more winning seasons, more undefeated seasons, and a winning record against OSU. That said, OSU has more national titles (5 to 2), the fewest losing seasons since 1936 out of any program, and OSU has been more dominant over the past 15 seasons than Michigan.



Nebraska. 45 bowls (23-22); 5 National Titles (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997 (Coaches)). Losing seasons since 1936: 20. Nebraska is the winningest program (both wins and percentage) over the last fifty years, and has fared very well in each of the last five decades. Of their 45 bowls, 32 are "major" bowls, and between the 1970 and 1997 seasons, the Cornhuskers went to 24 "major" bowls, which is amazing, even if they did only win half of those games. The 20 losing seasons since 1936 is somewhat misleading, as 18 of those came between 1938 and 1962 (and the other two were in 2004 and 2007).



(tie) Michigan. 39 bowls (19-20); 2 National Titles (1948, 1997). Losing seasons since 1936: 9. Yes, they have a 15-game edge over arch-rival Ohio State, and yes, they have the most wins in D-1 history (872), the largest stadium in the country, the most winning seasons of any program (110), the most undefeated seasons (25), and the most Big Ten titles (42). Before last season, Michigan had been to 33 consecutive bowls and had 40 consecutive winning seasons. But they only have 2 national titles (1948 and 1997), and the latter was a tie with Nebraska. Also, their bowl record is under .500.



Texas. 48 bowls (25-21-2); 4 National Titles (1963, 1969, 1970 (Coaches), 2005 (BCS/AP/Coaches)). Losing seasons since 1936: 10. Now the second-winningest program in D-1 history, Texas has had a resurgence over the past ten years under Mack Brown. Also, they hold an all-time lead in their Red River Rivalry with Oklahoma. The Longhorns, in my opinion, have the coolest uniforms on the list (not that that has anything to do with where they or other schools were ranked). Had this list been made in 1977, Texas would certainly be higher.



Penn State. 41 bowls (26-13-2); 2 National Titles (1982, 1986). Losing seasons since 1936: 7. JoePa's squad is hurt by the fact that he had four losing seasons in the first five years of this decade, and the fact that PSU only has 2 national titles (although they were undefeated in 1994). Nonetheless, Penn State has been a consistent force in college football since the late '50s. Frankly, their addition to the Big Ten in 1993 has probably hurt their status, since they have to go through Michigan and/or Ohio State (not to mention the other eight teams) if they want to play for a national title. However, Penn State's .659 bowl winning percentage is second highest among FBS schools, and the school has a pretty solid 14-6-1 (0.690) record in "major" bowls (Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, and Cotton). Between 1939 and 1999, PSU had only one losing season (1988).



Miami (FL). 32 Bowls (18-14); 5 National Titles (1983, 1987, 1989, 1991, 2001 (BCS/AP/Coaches)). Losing seasons since 1936: 20. Miami is a relative late-comer to the college football scene, but has been pretty dominant over the past 30 years. 24 of their 32 bowls have come since 1981, and their five national titles since 1983 is two more than the next closest teams (Nebraska and Florida). Miami also holds winning records over both Florida and Florida State. However, their (many) scandals and their relative dearth of pre-1980 success prevent Miami from leap-frogging the team that upset them for the 1986 national title. While the Canes have had 20 losing seasons since 1936, only 2 of those have been since 1979.


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