Now that the 2015 college football season is over, we though it’s a good time to see who have been the most successful programs over the last eight years, a list that includes Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State, but also schools without a national championship over that timeframe.
Why since 2008? With players supposedly leaving after four years of college, this means two four-year draft cycles, and we thought it represents a long enough (but not too long) time frame to judge and measure the best and most consistent in college football, often not letting a mass exodus or other problems affect them for too long, or at all. We also didn’t vacate the Ohio State wins from 2010. Even without those wins, they’re still in the top 5.
10. Stanford Cardinal: 79-27 (74.5%)
Stanford still posted a losing record in 2008, when Jim Harbaugh wasn’t done turning the program around, finishing 5-7 that year. But since 2010, Harbaugh’s final season, and through the Davis Shaw era which began in 2011, Stanford have won 11 games or more in a season five times, winning one Orange Bowl and two Rose Bowls, while picking up three Pac-12 titles.
9. Michigan State Spartans: 80-27 (74.8%)
The Spartans have been coached under Mark Dantonio since 2007, so the 2008-2015 period is all about him. Since 2010, they’ve won 11 games or more five times, winning the Big Ten three times and taking home two major bowl game trophies: The Rose Bowl after the 2013 season and the Cotton Bowl a year later. They made the College Football Playoff this season but got crushed by Alabama in the semifinal.
8. LSU Tigers: 78-26 (75%)
Too bad for the Tigers the count begins a year after they won their last national title, but maybe it suggests the line between greatness and, well, staying behind Alabama. LSU have won 10 games or more four times since 2008, coming in a four year stretch from 2010 to 2013. That included their only conference title of the last 8 years, going undefeated into the national championship game in 2011 only to get destroyed by Alabama, a team they beat earlier in the season. LSU don’t have a BCS or NY6 bowl victory during this stretch.
7. Oklahoma Sooners: 82-24 (77.4%)
The 2008-2015 for Oklahoma includes two BCS bowl victories (Fiesta bowl in 2010, Sugar Bowl in 2013 vs Alabama), one loss in the national championship game (2008), one loss in the CFP semifinals (2015 vs Clemson) and four Big 12 titles. Only twice have they finished with less than 10 wins, and never less than 8. 2009 Was the only time they ended the season unranked on both major polls.
6. Florida State Seminoles: 84-24 (77.8%)
The 2008-2015 can be split into two parts: The two season under Bobby Bowden before he stepped down, and ever since with Jimbo Fisher. Fisher took over in 2010, winning 68 games in six seasons, including the last BCS championship game (2013), three ACC titles (2012-2014) and one more BCS Bowl (Orange, 2012), followed by losing in the CFP semifinal in 2014.
5. TCU Horned Frogs: 81-22 (78.6%)
Gary Patterson has been the head coach through this period (coaching the team since 2000), that included the move from the MWC to the Big 12, which has gone over pretty well, as the Horned Frogs are 15-3 in Big 12 play the last two years. Overall, they have four conference titles since 2008, including one in the Big 12, three appearances in a BCS/NY6 Bowl game with two wins: One against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl (2010) and last season, crushing Ole Miss in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.
4. Oregon Ducks: 89-18 (83.2%)
Oregon have been through three different head coaches in the 2008-2015 period: Mike Bellotti, Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich. In 2015 was the first time since the 2007 season Oregon have won less than 10 games. In between? Four Pac-12 titles, playing for the national championship twice (2010, 2014) and losing, winning two Rose Bowls (one of them a CFP semifinal) and one Fiesta Bowl by cruising past Kansas State in 2012.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes: 89-17 (84%)
The 2008-2015 period includes three season with Jim Tressel before he stepped down, one transition season with Luke Fickell and the last four seasons under Urban Meyer. Except for the Fickle season, Ohio State have won 10 games or more each year, including going undefeated in 2012 but not winning anything, being ineligible. They won the national championship under Meyer in 2014, the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl back to back in 2009-2010 and the Fiesta Bowl this season, beating Notre Dame. They have three Big Ten titles, which would have been four without the vacated 2010 season.
2. Boise State Broncos: 90-16 (84.9%)
Yes, all of their wins have been in the WAC or MWC, which means lesser competition. But Boise State do well against opposition from more prestigious conferences too, although not all the time. The 2008-2015 is mostly under Chris Petersen, but Bryan Harsin has been the head coach the last two seasons. Their 9-4 2015 season is their worse since 2005. So what do we have? Three WAC titles, two in the MWC and two wins in major bowl games. Both of them in the Fiesta Bowl, once against TCU in 2009 and in 2014 as part of the NY6 bowl schedule, beating Arizona.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide: 98-12 (89.1%)
In 2007 Nick Saban got the head coaching job at Alabama. In 2008, the dominance began. Eight straight seasons of 10 wins or more, resulting in four national championships (three in the BCS era, one as part of the CFP) and four SEC titles, famously winning the BCS championship game of 2011 without winning the conference. There are also three Sugar Bowl losses, one of them a CFP semifinal, but why spoil the good taste of the most dominant football program of the last few years, which helps forget how bad things were before Saban arrived?
And just for a bonus, the worst football programs since 2008:
|N Mex State||20-78-0||20.4%|