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IMHO these 3 programs stand out as the top-3 in college football history; here's how they stack up. (Note: I had Michigan as #4. The Wolverines have a badass program and the best record of all time. But, they've also played almost 100 games more than USC or Bama. And the majority of their NC's are pre-wire era--of '47/'48/'97 only '48 was considered consensus. Again, it's no insult to be a solid top-5 program, and one that is apparently on the rise.)
Notre Dame: 853-349-41 (.731); 11-National Championships; conference champs: N/A; 15-16 post-season; AP Top 25/10/5 finishes: 49/35/21; 10+/11+ seasons: 15/5; 7-Heisman winners; 176 AA's (96 consensus..1st all-time); 43- College Hall of Fame (1st all-time); 10-Pro Football Hall of Fame (2nd all-time); 473-draft picks (63-1st round). BCS Era: 100-82; 0-3 BCS games.
Alabama: 814-312-43 (.710); 14-National Champions; conference champs: 26; 34-22-3 post-season; AP Top 25/10/5 finishes: 50/38/19; 10+/11+ seasons: 31/15; 1- Heisman winner; 103 AA's (47 consensus); 18-College Hall of Fame (T-14th all-time); 7-Pro Football Hall of Fame; 302-draft picks (45-1st round). BCS Era: 118-60; 2-2 BCS games.
USC: 779-315-54 (.703); 11-National Championships; conference champs: 38; 31-16 post-season; AP Top 25/10/5 finishes: 45/28/20; 10+/11+ seasons: 24/12; 6/7*-Heisman winners; 157 AA's (78-consensus); 28-College Hall of Fame (3rd all-time); 11-Pro Football Hall of Fame (1st all-time); 477 draft picks (77-1st round..1st all-time). BCS Era: 132-44; 5/6*-1 in BCS games.
The stats I pulled seem the most fair to objectively analyze historical success. Some may feel draft picks have no bearing, but I disagree for two reasons. 1. Getting kids to the draft is one of the most important de facto things a program is supposed to do. 2. When you enter a football complex, they prominently display NFL jerseys of former players (if they're going to consider it part of the program's success, it should be taken into consideration with other accomplishments).
1. As of today, Notre Dame is still the most prestigious program of all-time. However, their reign at the top is drawing to an end. They stand almost no chance of replicating the success they had in the 20th century, and will be eventually passed. (As a USC fan, there was a time many thought we'd never catch them in any category. Now we look at it more as a question of when, not if.)
2. Alabama is an all-time great program, but can't truly call themselves #1 yet when looking at their lack of Heismans, consensus All-Americans, Hall of Famers and Draft picks. Having said that, if Saban wins 1 or 2 more titles and continues stocking the draft over the next 7+ seasons, I'd have zero problem with Bama fans claiming they're the best of all-time.
3. USC is in a tough spot trying to claim the crown for now. As I stated, we're going to eventually pass our arch-rival in every category during the next decade (in 4 years we'll be the 1st school to 500 draft picks and nearly 100 1st rounders. 'Bama has zero chance of catching up in either category for at least 25+ years).
1. ND (the old man is on life support)
Michigan is basically a better Notre Dame except for Heismans, yet you have Michigan as #4 and Notre Dame as #1.
UM is a solid top-5. But, if not for the '97 AP championship, you guys would have gone almost 65+ years without a NC; that long of a drought drops you guys slightly.
Agree. If you listed the exact same stats for Michigan, Ohio State and Oklahoma, you would find them all comparable to the three schools you listed. IMO if you just go by stats, USC comes out slightly ahead at #1 with the other five all fighting neck and neck for #2.
You are wasting your time man. I agree with you, but there are some Michigan fans on here who literally think they are Gods gift to football and that they should be honored every time they take the field.
University of Alabama: The high mark of college football since 1892
Not to hate but I'd put Michigan ahead of all of them...then ND and the I like the Bama-USC equality cause thats kinda how I see it too... Bama gets the nod as they are the most recent dominant program but USC dominated for a long time before they got their sanctions too...
Walking up these hills you have no choice but to be fast!
Michigan has earned their place at the top, but they don't surpass the teams I mentioned in lots of categories, save all-time wins. Remember, this is fluid. Brady is on his way to the Hall, Hoke has them on the road to competing for a NC. However, their titles drop them slightly...key word "slightly," one Heisman or NC and they're right back in it.
This post was edited by SC911 21 months ago
The OP gave his opinion (hence the term IMHO). This is a message board. I thought he was inviting comments and others' opinions and several of us chimed in with ours. What is your problem?
Some Michigan fans and their apparent lack of common sense, mostly.
Yes, but you're going top 3 in total history not since 1960 or whatever therefore we'd be #1/ #2 and if you want to debate it look at all of our wins/championships/heismans.
Stealing Sparty's recruits and owning them on the field since 1898
I just cannot justify Michigan as #1 simply because they have like 1 championship since 1948. Everyone talks about ND fans living in the past but come on, that is just not #1 material.
But everyone has an opinion and we have already argued this so i'll just rest my case.
Can someone clear up how many championships Alabama has. I've heard different numbers on different occasions
The only one that should truly be discounted is the 1940's one. All of the others we have outright won, or were just fortunate in the way they awarded the championship 1973 and prior.
This post was edited by James Moriarty 21 months ago
Heismans: ND 7, USC 6, Michigan 3, Alabama 1
NCs: Alabama 14 (some of these are BS titles), Michigan 11, ND 11, USC 11
all time wins: Michigan 895, ND 853, Alabama 814, USC 779
Winning percentage: # 1 Michigan, # 2 Notre Dame, # 7 Alabama, # 9 USC
Reminds me of 95% of the Bama fans on here...
Say something that isn't sucking off Bama, and boy oh boy.... ITS ON!!!
Thought I read somewhere that ND and Alabama had the same amount of National Championships, but there were some questions on a couple of the ones Alabama claimed. I believe there was one that had Alabama as a champ with 4 or 5 loses. I will do some further research later.
This post was edited by DMo 21 months ago
3 time POTW
These thread seldom end well.
Geography really separated these teams until airline travel became easy in 1960. No real standard for awarding a NC has been set until recently and it's still questionable. Segregation played a part until 1970.
What I'm getting at is all programs are different and need to be looked at in different ways. Toss USC, Bama, Notre Dame and UM in a bowl and they all are equal ingredients but all are different.
Looks like another perfect day.
I agree. Just need the Irish to get back on track and start playing winning football again.
You've got some good points. But, some of those titles--1900's especially--were from the era when Ivy League schools competed. If we put just as much weight on Michigan's 1901 title as Alabama's 2011, then Princeton dominates everyone.
(1) consensus title in 7 decades is too long of a drought to claim UM is the greatest. Also, our ultimate achievement--aside from a NC--is playing in the Rose Bowl. Comparing USC and Michigan in that game: UM (20) appearances for 8 wins and 12 losses; USC (32) appearances for 24 wins and 8 losses. Head-to-head: 6-2 SC. *Yes, I'm aware of the conference rule that screwed over a bunch of Big-10 teams, though I hardly see how USC or any other PAC-10 team from that era can be held responsible. It was a shitty ruled that was thankfully rectified.
Michigan cannot be #1. They have 1 national title in the past 65 or so years and that title was shared with Nebraska. Yes, some of our titles are shared as well but Alabama has several undisputed national titles since Michigan won their last one (61, 79, 92, 09, 11). Also, Alabama has NINE AP/Coaches/BCS national titles in the same span as Michigan has ONE. 9 to 1. Let that sink in.
Michigan is a blue blood program, one of the best, top 5. They are not #1. Alabama has more of a claim to #1 as the ultimate prize is the national title and Alabama has more than any program in history (that is still around on the big stage...not counting Princeton, Yale, Army, etc). I don't have a problem with Bama, USC, Notre Dame being listed in any order but Michigan is behind all of them.
You're thinking of 1941. Basically all Alabama fans concede it is a BS title that we wish we didn't claim. That said, our other 13 are legit as far as most Bama fans are concerned. We won a couple when they awarded the titles differently and some people say we shouldn't claim them because we lost our bowl game. That's just the way it was done back then and Alabama isn't the only school to claim titles that were awarded pre-bowl game that went on to lose their bowl game. We're just more closely scrutinized because we have so many titles. We have 9 AP/UPI/BCS titles in the modern era and that's more than any other program.
We aren't God's gift to football, we are the God of Football. When then had a son, Notre Dame, would we taught football to, that began to continue God's glory in continuation with God through the post WW2 era. Then fairly recently the traditionless heathen programs(Miami, VaTech, and the worst Boise State) have begun to rise and spite God's order.
Didn't we just have this argument less than a week ago?
My top 5 would be Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Alabama
They don't care, the same way we will hear about how Bama was not the best team last year here in a few days.
you want the short version or the long one?
4 - (25, 26, 30, 34) pre-1936 titles are rose bowl national titles. every team that won a rose bowl before the ap claims a national title. legit as anyone else's and as good as can be for the time period.
4 - (61, 79, 92, 09) undefeated, untied, bowl winning teams that won both polls. as legit as can be. no argument possible.
3 - (11 bcs, 78 ap, 65 ap) lost a game in reg season, but won out and won bowl, and won at least 1 major (bcs/ap/coaches) poll, but had help along the way. (79 usc beat bama, but later lost and bama jumped them (usc won coaches), 65 bama went into bowl ranked 4th, but #1-3 all lost and bama jumped to #1, in 11 got 2nd chance at lsu)
2 - (64, 73) undefeated reg season, but lost bowl, but won major polls cause at time they did poll pre-bowl. these are debateable, but every team that won a major poll claims a title, regardless of bowl outcome. (and no, bama is not the only team to claim a title after losing their bowl, texas, tenn, ou, mich st to name a few, do also.)
1 - (41) - no real good reason at all. won a minor poll, finished 20th in major polls, had 2 losses, didn't win sec. just not legit anyway you look at it.
there's your 14 claimed titles in short story form.
long version: (i did this a while ago, and just copy and pasted it, so it has some other things in it that might not pertain, but i'm too tired to try to clean it up. good read, though, if interested.)
basically any pre-ap (pre-1936) is what i consider a rose bowl mnc. there was only one bowl, the rose, and every team the won the rose bowl before the ap poll started claims it as a mnc. this includes nd, usc, mich, osu, etc. so that's 4 for bama (1925, 26, 30, 34). all were undefeated going into the rose bowl, and only 1 didnt win, the 26 team tied stanford 7-7 (who, if im not mistaken, also claims that year as mnc).
i'll go year by year from here on, as they all have unique characteristics.
1941 - joke. no way around it. anyone who says otherwise is an idiot. lost 2, didnt win sec, didnt finish in top 20 in ap poll. really dont like this one.
1961 - undefeated, won bowl, crowned both ap and coaches. no one can argue this one.
1964 - little hairy. undefeated going into bowl, lost to arky in bowl game. won both polls again, but they were pre-bowl. this is simply how it was done then, and other teams have won and claim mnc when the lost bowls in this time period (includes texas, tenn, ou, mich st and some others), so this is legit, imo. also, consider that every team that has won a coaches or ap poll claims it, bowl win or not, and it strengthens it.
1965 - finished 9-1-1, won bowl. this year, the ap decided to do poll after bowls. everyone in front of bama lost their bowl, and bama was next in line. so ap votes bama #1. legit, imo.
this is where i'd put a "what if" scenario type thing, but i'll save it for the end, since there are multiple years (45, 66, and 77) with what if things.
1973 - undefeated regular season. lost bowl to nd. voted, pre-bowl, coaches poll mnc. this one is harder than the others to call legit, since the ap had been doing post-bowl for several years now. but, again, everyone who has ever won a coaches or ap poll claims it, so this one is ok. weakest one so far (besides the terrible 41)
1978 - 11-1, won bowl. won ap poll. lost in regular season to usc, who won the coaches. but usc lost a game late in the year, which allowed bama to jump them. this happens all the time, and still does. it's a true split, imo, and a legit claim by bama.
1979 - 12-0, won bowl. won both polls. no arguments. legit.
1992 - 13-0, won bowl and both polls. legit.
2009 - 14-0, won bowl and all polls. legit.
now, for the what if's:
in 45, army, i think, won it. and rightly so. but bama was also undefeated, beating usc soundly in the rose bowl. however, army won the ap (no coaches yet, 1950). bama doesnt claim it, and the one who does has a legit claim, so it's hard to argue. but it should be mentioned.
1966 - bama was 2 time defending mnc, started preseason #1 in both polls, went undefeated and untied (1 of only 2 teams in nation to do so, san diego st was other), won their bowl game over a top 5 team, and didnt win the mnc. only time in history that has happened. nd won both polls, after playing to a tie with mich st (in a weak way, i might add, but that's another story). msu finished 2nd, bama 3rd. bama played more teams with winning records (6) than either nd (4) or msu (2). bama should have been awarded this mnc and, imo, should claim it. but it's hard to without either major poll. this should be legit, and the 1st and only 3-peat, imo.
1977 - little harder to justify, but there should be some sort of claim. 1 loss. won bowl. was #3 headed into bowls. #1 and #2 lost, we beat #8 team, #4 lost, and #5 nd beat #1 texas. nd won the polls. like i said, hard to justify, but there is some merit there. imo, it should be a split. but it is what it is.
finally, since the polls are so funky and quirky, there is a simpler way to see who has accomplished greatness the most without subjective opinions. undefeated and untied, bowl champions. and for the big ten and nd people who will argue with this, i have something for them as well.
bama now has 9 undefeated, untied, bow champion teams. (25, 30, 34, 45, 61, 66, 79, 92, 09)
#2 on the list is psu with 5 undefeated, untied bowl champion teams.
#3 & 4 is nebraska and usc with 4 each.
#5 is a jumble of osu, nd, texas, ou, miami and an outlier in toledo (didnt seperate for major vs non major bowls)
now, about the bigten and nd, they didnt go bowling for several year during the first half century. the bigten only allowed 1 team per year, and not on consecutive years. nd just didnt because school policy. however, during that time frame, (nd i'm being extremely generous here in assuming this) lets assume that they would have won their bowl for every year that they finished the regular season undefeated and untied. only considering nd and osu, since those are the only 2 that come even remotely close.
osu would be the same, since they didnt have any years in which they went undefeated and untied in regular season and didnt go bowling (years are 46-75 that the bigten didnt allow more than 1, non-consecutive bowl team)
nd would be 7 (+4) (the years they didnt go bowling is from 25-70)
so bama is still on top here, regardless. simply put, bama has done more than anyone where it counts: on the field.
hope you enjoyed this book.
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