[Updated 8/23] Tuscaloosa News Top 25 Football Programs Countdown

Update [2006-7-12 4:0:27 by Nico]: I'm switching the order around where the newest entries on the countdown appear first. The article was getting too long to appear in full on the front page of the site, so I'm going to have the newest content appear on the front and the rest will be viewable by clicking on the "read more" link at the bottom of the post.

The Tuscaloosa News is counting down their Top 25 college football programs. Story here. (registration required)

They've submitted a completely cooked out methodology using five factors from a historical perspective and five factors from the 2005 season.  It's a bit of a combination of "all-time best" mixed with "are you still relevant?"

Historical Factors

  1. Bowl appearances
  2. AP National Championships
  3. All Time AP Poll
  4. College Football Hall of Fame inductees
  5. Coaching Legacy:  This one is kind of the "x-factor" stat and is highly subjective whereas the others all at least rely on easily identifiable statistics.
2005 Factors
  1. Final AP poll ranking
  2. Rivals.com recruiting class rankings
  3. Average stadium attendance
  4. Academics: APR Rankings
  5. Pro potential: Number of players on opening day NFL rosters
They're submitting one team per week until the week before the season starts when they'll do five (one each weekday.)

Keep in mind that I don't agree with all of this list, I'm just providing it here as a bit of offseason watercooler talk.

The list:

5. Michigan Wolverines (story here)

The Wolverines registered points in nine categories:

  • 1st in all-time Top 25
  • 1st in attendance
  • 2nd in college hall of famers
  • 6th in players in the NFL
  • 8th in coaching legacy
  • tied for 9th in bowls
  • tied for 10th in national titles
  • 13th in recruiting
  • tied for 25th in grades

6. Alabama Crimson Tide (story here)

The Crimson Tide registered points in eight of ten categories:

  • 1st in bowls
  • 1st in coaching legacy
  • 3rd in national titles
  • 4th in all-time Top 25
  • 8th in 2005 Top 25
  • 11th in recruiting
  • 14th in attendance
  • tied for 15th in hall of famers
My full take on Alabama's ranking can be found here.

7. Oklahoma Sooners (story here)

The Sooners edged out rival Texas for the #7 spot and they registered points in 9 categories:

  • 2nd in national titles
  • 3rd in all-time Top 25
  • 6th in coaching legacy
  • 7th in bowls
  • 9th in recruiting
  • 9th in attendance
  • tied for 11th in colleg hall of famers
  • 18th in players in the NFL
  • 22nd in 2005 Top 25

8. Texas Longhorns (story here)

The Longhorns scored in eight categories:

  • 1st in 2005 Top 25
  • tied for 2nd in bowls
  • 5th in recruiting
  • 8th in all-time Top 25
  • 9th in national titles
  • 11th in attendance
  • 12th in coaching legacy
  • tied for 19th in college hall of famers

I figured the 'Horns would place a bit higher after their huge '05 season, but eight isn't anything to be ashamed of.

9. Tennessee Volunteers (story here)

The Vols earned points in eight categories:

  • 2nd in attendance
  • tied for 2nd in players in NFL
  • tied for 2nd in bowls
  • 7th in all-time Top 25
  • tied for 9th in college hall of famers
  • 10th in coaching legacy
  • tied for 10th in national titles
  • 23rd in recruiting

The coaching legacy points rest at the feet of the legendary General Robert Neyland who compiled a 173-31-12 record at Tenneessee including 112 shutouts!

As Alabama fans we hate Tennessee as it is the proper thing to do, but they've certainly been a formidable opponent over the years. That's what has made our rivalry so great...the fact that both teams have sustained long histories of being good and hating each others guts.

10. Florida State Seminoles (story here)

...and the top 10 begins...

This is the portion of the list I've been waiting for all summer.

The Seminoles earned points in nine categories:

  • 1st in players in NFL
  • 3rd in recruiting
  • 3rd in coaching legacy
  • 10th in national titles
  • 12th in All-Time Top 25
  • 12th in attendance
  • tied for 12th in bowls
  • 17th in grades
  • 23rd in 2005 Top 25

From the article:

[Bowden] is the only coach to ever lead his team to 10 or more wins over 14 straight seasons (1987-2000), during which it finished in the top five of the Associated Press poll each time. He also had an amazing 14-game unbeaten streak in bowl games (1982-95), though there was a 17-17 tie to Georgia in the 1984 Citrus Bowl.

11. Georgia Bulldogs (story here)

I'm sure Dawg fans will be happy to see their team beat out both Florida and Auburn in the Tuscaloosa News Top 25 football programs countdown.

They scored in nine categories (everything but academics) to rank ahead their rivals. It definately appears as if Mark Richt is getting the job done:

  • 4th in recruiting
  • tied for 4th in players in the NFL
  • 5th in attendance
  • 6th in bowls
  • 10th in 2005 Top 25
  • 13th in All-time Top 25
  • 15th in coaching legacy
  • tied for 16th in national titles
  • tied for 21st in college hall of famers

The writer of the story also appears to really admire Uga seeing as the first several paragraphs of the stories are devoted to the Georgia mascot.

12. Florida Gators (story here)

Florida scored points in nine categories:

  • 2nd in recruiting
  • tied for 2nd in players in the NFL
  • 8th in 2005 attendance
  • 11th in grades
  • 12th in 2005 Top 25
  • 15th in bowls
  • tied for 15th in coaching legacy
  • tied for 16th in national titles
  • 17th in all-time Top 25

I'm kind of amazed Florida edged out Nebraska, but they scored very high in all of the current factors and that appears to have put them over the top. They did pretty well in the four historical categories they placed in as well.

13. Nebraska Cornhuskers (story here)

Nebraska is the first team on the list to be ranked in nine categories.

  • 5th in bowls
  • 6th in all-time Top 25
  • tied for 6th in national titles
  • 7th in coaching legacy
  • 13th in players in the NFL
  • 19th in 2005 attendance
  • tied for 19th in college hall of famers
  • 20th in recruiting
  • 24th in 2005 Top 25

Now that we're creeping closer towards the Top 10, this list is getting really interesting. Not so much for who is included, but for what order they appear.

14. Auburn Tigers (story here)

Alabama's arch-rival Auburn lands in the #14 spot on the countdown.

The Tigers were ranked in eight of the 10 categories:

  • 4th in grades
  • 8th in players in the NFL
  • 10th in recruiting
  • 10th in 2005 attendance
  • 14th in all-time Top 25
  • 14th in 2005 Top 25
  • 16th in bowls
  • tied for 16th in national titles

15. LSU Tigers (story here)

LSU was ranked in 7 out of 10 categories to earn the #15 spot in the countdown:

  • 6th in 2005 attendance
  • 6th in 2005 Top 25
  • 7th in 2005 recruiting
  • tied for 9th in players in the NFL
  • tied for 9th in bowl appearances
  • 15th in All-Time Top 25
  • tied for 16th in national titles

LSU fans' passion and energy level is rivaled by few. This story is now legendary:

[LSU] fans got so loud against Auburn in 1988 that the geology department?s seismograph registered vibrations after the game?s key play.

Based on national titles alone, I can't believe Miami is ranked behind LSU. However, their system of ranking is what it is and 90% of a team's possible score comes from objective data. Neither LSU nor Miami scored in the subjective category of "coaching legacy" that accounts for 10% of the possible score.

16. Miami Hurricanes (story here)

College football's badboys come in at #16 on the countdown. I figured they'd rate a bit higher, but I suppose their massive success is a bit recent to reasonably expect them to crack the Top 10.

The Canes placed in 7 of 10 categories:

  • Tied for 4th in national titles
  • 7th in players in the NFL
  • 11th in All-Time Top 25
  • 14th in recruiting
  • 17th in 2005 Top 25
  • 18th in bowl appearances
  • 21st in grades

I have to say I was a bit shocked by the grades.

Here's what the Tuscaloosa News had to say about Miami:

From 1987 through 1991, the Miami Hurricanes won three national titles and missed a fourth by a point due to a controversial 31-30 loss to Notre Dame (not to mention the 34-13 loss to Alabama in the 1993 Sugar Bowl). Over those five seasons, Miami went an incredible 56-4-0 and the Hurricanes were considered the giants of the game.

17. Army Black Knights (story here)

Though Army's glory days are behind them, they still managed to register points in four categories: academics (13th), national championships (tied for 10th), hall of fame members (5th) and coaching legacy (21st.)

I don't even really care about their football history. I know their rivalry game with Navy is a big deal and all, but it's their non-football related stuff that's so interesting. Look at their list of notable graduates. It's insane. Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Dwight Eisenhower, Buzz Aldrin, Stonewall Jackson, George Custer, William Tecumseh Sherman, Robert Neyland, Mike Krzyzewski, etc. etc.

Even their list of non-graduate alumni is awesome: Edgar Allen Poe, Maynard James Keenan (of the band Tool!), artist James Whistler and even LSD advocate Timoth Leary (who eventually graduated with a degree in psychology from Alabama.)

18. Texas A&M Aggies (story here)

The Aggies scored in seven of the ten categories to land at #18. The category they scored highest in is "Pro Potential." There are currently 27 Aggies in the NFL.

Texas A&M's inclusion is a fascinating one to me personally since Alabama and Texas A&M have shared three coaches: Bear Bryant, Gene Stallings and Dennis Franchione. All three coaches reached much greater levels of success at Alabama.

19. UCLA Bruins (story here)

The Bruins placed in six categories, yet have never finished number 1 in the AP poll. They came close in 1954 when they finished #2 in the AP and #1 in the UPI.

I have to say I was quite surprised by this considering the Bruins have won close to 100 national championships in a variety of sports.

20. Navy Midshipmen (story here)

Navy scored in two categories to earn a spot in the T-News' Top 25: grades and Hall of Fame inductees.  The Midshipmen finished second behind Stanford in APR.

20 Midshipmen are in the College Football Hall of Fame (tied with Ohio State.) The most famous of them being Roger Staubach.

One interesting tidbit I dug up about Navy that's not mentioned in the article is that Navy ranks fourth in amount of victories by a team that's never won a national championship. The Midshipmen have won 607 games, yet haven't claimed the biggest prize of all.

21. Pitt Panthers (story here)

Pitt scored in four categories to make the #21 spot on the countdown.  They were ranked #21 in recruiting, #10 in national titles, tied for #9 in college football hall of famers and #24 in coaching legacy.

Former Pitt greats include Tony Dorsett, Dan Marino and Mike Ditka.  Their coaching legacy includes people like Pop Warner and Johnny Majors.

Obviously Pitt's tradition carried them further than their recent form did, but it was still good enough to earn them a spot in the Top 25.

22. Stanford Cardinal (story here)

I can't imagine there'll be a bigger shock than this one in their entire Top 25.  Upon seeing it, I was immediately dismayed and nearly outraged.  However, I remembered that they are called "student-athletes" (notice the student bit even comes first!)

They only scored in two of the 10 categories, but placed fairly high in both.  They were #1 in academics and #15 in players in the College Football Hall of Fame.  If they'd been much lower in academic ranking, they wouldn't have made it.

So, instead of freaking out like I did, try to remember that their APR was only 5 points away from being perfect and congratulate them for having a team's worth of guys with something between their ears.

23. Ole Miss Rebels (story here)

Starting with pick #23, I'm doing my own commentary, instead of just quoting theirs:

Ole Miss were ranked #23 in the all-time AP Poll, finished 16th in recruiting for '05 under new head coach Ed Orgeron and finished 18th in grades.  They also did well in the coaching legacy category for former Rebel boss John Vaught who won five SEC championships and had a record of 190-61-12 (.745).  

I found it hard to believe they made the list, but when you use such a bizarre calculus to reach your verdict, some screwy choices are going to wind up in the mix.

24. Clemson Tigers (story here)

Clemson's rise to prominence began in 1900, when coach John Heisman led the Tigers to a 19-3-2 record over three seasons. The Tigers have won the most ACC titles and in 1981 were the consensus national champions. At age 33, Danny Ford became the youngest coach to ever win the national title.

25. Wisconsin Badgers (story here)

Most of [the program's] pronounced success came under the direction of Barry Alvarez (1990-2005), who during his 16 years led the Badgers to 11 bowl games including three Rose Bowl appearances.

Last year, Wisconsin had seven players selected in the NFL Draft, tied with Virginia for the third most behind Oklahoma (11) and Florida State (nine).

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