College Football's Top 10 Programs Of All-Time

By Joe Finney
December 06, 2011 11:16 am
5,241 Views 9 Comments
When looking at the final BCS rankings, it’s interesting to see how times have changed in college football. The traditional powers are scarce in the top 10.

LSU has a strong tradition and Alabama has always been a powerful program, but look at some of the others. Oklahoma State, Stanford, and Oregon have not seen many 11 win seasons. Kansas State and South Carolina have been as likely to lose 10 games as they are to win 10 in a season. Baylor at number 12?

These teams have all earned their spot in 2011, but let’s consider the big picture. These are the top 10 college football teams of all time:
*All totals since 1945
10. Tennessee
The Volunteers have gone 518-232-23, with two national championships. Tennessee has consistently produced talented players at all positions and became known as Wide Receiver U. Peyton Manning and Reggie White were two of the best who have ever played the game. General Neyland, Johnny Majors, and Phil Fulmer are the notable coaches for Tennessee. The program is currently in a down cycle, but do not look for it to continue much longer.
9. Penn State
Joe Paterno’s record of success and longevity will likely never be duplicated. The Nittany Lions have amassed a 547-195-9 record with two national championships along with five other undefeated seasons. Linebacker U. produced Jack Ham, Shane Conlan, Lavar Arrington, and many others. It will be interesting to see how the next chapter of Penn State football unfolds under new leadership.
8. Nebraska
The Cornhusker resume includes a 541-226-9 record. Not located in one of the more populous states, Nebraska has consistently produced tough, physical football teams. Strong offensive linemen (Dave Rimington has a trophy named for him), hard charging I-backs, and the Black Shirts defense have been staples of the program. Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne provided tremendous stability on the sideline for 36 years (1962-1997), while winning four national championships.
7. Michigan
The maize and blue have a 523-204-15 record. Bo Schembechler ranks as the best Wolverines coach of the modern era. During his 21 seasons, Michigan was consistently a top-10 program. Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson won the Heisman Trophy and there were two national championships (1948 and 1997). After three down years with Rich Rodriguez, Michigan looks to be a resurgent program under Brady Hoke. 115,000 fans in the Big House would agree.
6. USC- The Trojans have a 512-232-23 record and possess, perhaps, as much star power as any program on the list. USC has produced seven Heisman winners- Mike Garrett, O.J. Simpson, Charles White, Marcus Allen, Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, and Reggie Bush. Add other greats like Anthony Munoz, Bruce Matthews, Junior Seau, and Ronnie Lott, and it is easy to see why the Trojans have been so successful. John McKay, John Robinson, and Pete Carroll have been the top coaches for a program with six national championships (and no, we aren’t counting 2003). With a fertile recruiting base in southern California, look for the Trojans to remain relevant for years to come.


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Previous Comments (9)

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3 years ago
Excellent article as always and though it hurts me to mention it, I'm surprised that Michigan didn't make the list. All 5 are deserving but I think the Maise and Blue are still the all time wins leaders, correct?
3 years ago
I just noticed page 1 of 2. Please forgive my ignorance. I thought it was only a top 5.
3 years ago
I went post WWII, since some teams began play before others. I figured by then, everyone had an equal chance to have their program up and running. You are right, Michigan is the all-time wins leader. Oklahoma's win total really jumped out at me. I was just happy to have a legitimate reason to write something good about Tennessee this year.
3 years ago
Great job with the list, you nailed it.
3 years ago

Thanks for reading Bill.
3 years ago
No Miami Hurricanes? No Seminoles? No respect.
3 years ago

No for both. Perhaps you had not heard, but football was actually played before 1980.
I love the no for FSU and Miami, but Bama,ND,Nebraska,USC,and Oklahoma should've been ranked 1-5 in this order. Georgia should be ranked if The Vols are mentioned.
2 years ago

With a last name of Jorts, I figured Christian would be a Gators fan. For top 15, I'd likley include UGA.

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