The 2016 college football season is over, which makes it a good opportunity to find out which programs have been the most successful over the last 8 seasons. The list includes Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State, but also those who haven’t won a national championship or even played for one.
Why start with 2009 and not make it a four, or 10 or 20 year timeframe? With players supposedly leaving after four years, it means a couple of four-year draft cycles. We thought it represents a significant enough (but not too long) period to measure the best and most consistent in college football, usually not letting some mass exodus or other problems affect them for too long, or at all. One more thing: The NCAA may vacate wins, we don’t.
10. Wisconsin Badgers, 81-27 (75%)
Teams with six 10-win seasons in 8 years don’t usually go through so many coaches, but the Badgers, now with Paul Chryst, have gone through Bret Bielema (left to Arkansas) and Gary Andersen, while Barry Alvarez stepped down from AD to help out when necessary. Winning the Cotton Bowl recently was their first major bowl game win since the Rose Bowl in the 1999 season. They lost the Rose Bowl three years in a row under Bielema, winning the Big Ten each time they made it that far.
9. LSU Tigers, 78-25, (75.7%)
LSU did win 10 games or more four years in a row in the middle of the 8-year stretch, including a 13-1 season in 2011, but failing to finish ahead of Alabama by the time the season was over has made things difficult, eventually leading to Les Miles being fired in 2016, replaced by Ed Orgeron, the first coaching change for the program since 2004-2005. LSU won the SEC once (2011, losing in the natty to Alabama), finishing ranked in all but one season.
8. Oklahoma Sooners, 81-24 (77.1%)
Playing under Bob Stoops since 1999, Oklahoma have won the Big 12 four times in the last 8 years, including back-to-back these last two. Four times have they finished in the top 6, and their worst seasons have been two 8-5 efforts. The Sooners have made one college football playoff, losing to Clemson in the semifinal. They’ve won three major bowl games in the process, including two Sugar Bowls – once beating Alabama, and not too long ago beating Auburn.
7. Clemson Tigers, 86-24 (78.2%)
The Tigers have won 10 games or more in each season since 2011, and although people still make fun of them for that Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia, their 3 ACC titles under Dabo Swinney and especially their two appearances in the college football playoff championship game against Alabama (one loss, one win) are putting an end to the ‘Clemsoning’ meme. The Tigers also have an Orange Bowl win over Ohio State at the end of the 2013 season, a preview to their 31-0 three years later.
6. Oregon Ducks, 83-23 (78.3%)
It’s easy to forget that Oregon were the best Pac-12 team for quite some time, doing extremely well in four Chip Kelly seasons (3 conference titles, one national championship game loss, 46 wins, two BCS bowl game wins) and not too bad in Mark Helfrich’s first two years. In 2014 they won the Pac-12, crushed Florida State in the Rose Bowl and made another title game, losing to Ohio State. Since then, they lost Marcus Mariota to the NFL and have won just 13 games. They missed the bowl game this season with a four win effort (their worst since 1991), leading to Helfrich getting fired.
5. Stanford Cardinal, 84-23 (78.5%)
Nine consecutive seasons of winning at least 8 games isn’t something that happens often for the Cardinal, who haven’t slowed down since Jim Harbaugh took over the program, and left it in the hands of David Shaw. Six 10-win seasons, four top 10 finishes, three Rose Bowl titles (3 Pac-12 titles too) and one in the Orange Bowl and establishing themselves as a major force in the Pac-12.
4. Florida State Seminoles, 85-23 (78.7%)
Jimbo Fisher took the Seminoles from the hands of Bobby Bowden in 2010 (they were 7-6 in 2009), and at his worst came up with nine wins. The Seminoles have won three straight ACC titles in 2012-2014, including the last BCS championship game followed by making the college football playoff and losing in the semifinal. They’ve done well in the post Jameis Winston years, winning 20 games, including a great Orange Bowl against Michigan just now.
3. Boise State Broncos, 88-18 (83%)
The only program on the list outside the Power 5 conferences, Boise State continues to put up fine numbers after Bryan Harsin replaced Chris Petersen. In 2011 they switched to the MWC from the WAC, winning their new conference twice (2012, 2014). The Broncos have one undefeated season (2009) and two more of just one loss (2010-2011) in this 8-year stretch, which includes beating TCU in the Fiesta Bowl and Arizona in the same bowl game after the 2014 season.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes, 90-16 (84.9%)
The Buckeyes are one of the three national champions on this list, winning the inaugural college football playoff with wins against Alabama and Oregon. Despite their impressive record and winning less than 11 games just once (the Luke Fickell season), the Buckeyes have just two Big Ten titles to flaunt. Their 61-6 record under Urban Meyer includes two painful losses to Clemson in the postseason. Maybe most importantly to those who cherish rivalries, Michigan have won just once in the last 8 years, and in fact have only one win since 2003.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide (100-11), 90.1%
Nick Saban has “only” one undefeated season with Alabama, in 2009, going 14-0 to win his first national title with the Crimson Tide, the first of four. This season he was once second away from going 15-0, but Clemson, losing to Saban and Alabama in the title game a year before, ended up snatching the unique achievement at the very last moment. Since 2009, Alabama’s worst season is a 10-3 effort in 2010, and they’ve won the SEC six times, only once finishing the season outside the top 10.
- Auburn are the only team with a national title since 2009 not on the list. The Tigers are 68-37 in the last 8 years, 28th.
- Washington and Michigan State have both made the college football playoff once, but aren’t on the list. The Spartans are 14th at 74-32, Huskies are 44th at 62-43.
And just as importantly, the 10 worst teams since 2009:
Akron, 29-68, 29.9%
Tulane, 28-70, 28.6%
FAU, 27-69, 28.1%
UNLV, 27-73, 27%
Charlotte, 6-18, 25%
Eastern Michigan, 23-74, 23.7%
New Mexico State, 20-78, 20.4%
Kansas, 19-77, 19.8%
Georgia State, 10-46, 17.9%
UMass, 10-53, 15.9%