Who Gets a National Title 1st: Notre Dame, Miami, Florida State or Michigan
Miami, Notre Dame, Florida State and Michigan are all years removed from their last national championship, and in some cases decades removed. With Michigan taking some steps back to national prominence last season and Florida State expected to be a stronger team in 2012, it may just be a matter of time before one of these great college football programs claims a national championship again.
Or will it?
Of these historic college football programs, who will be the first to reclaim a national title?
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Last National Championship Claimed: 2001 season
Has it really been a decade since the Miami Hurricanes were dancing on top of the college football world?
The U followed up their national championship season with a return trip to the BCS title game, where they lost in overtime to Ohio State in the 2002 season, and a strong season the following year capped with an Orange Bowl victory in their final season in the Big East.
Since moving to the ACC in 2004 Miami has not gotten over nine wins in a season and the program is awaiting NCAA sanctions that are expected to be somewhat severe following sanctions levied to Ohio State and North Carolina.
The future for Miami looks bleak but it depends on how much the NCAA cracks down on the program for a number of violations. Al Golden was able to turn Temple around in to a decent program on the rise, and there is still plenty of time for him to accomplish the same level of progress at Miami if he is given room to work with following NCAA sanctions.
Miami is a program that should be easy to recruit, but given the cloudy future they may be the last of the schools we are discussing to get back to the championship game.
Florida State Seminoles
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Last National Championship Claimed: 1999 season
As long as it has been for Miami to win a national championship, it has been even longer for the Florida State Seminoles. The Team of the 1990s (debate if you wish) is starting to show signs that they may be back on track to the old glory days with Jimbo Fisher recruiting well the past couple of seasons.
Of course, Florida State can be a terrific paper champion. Last season the Seminoles were a trendy pick but they showed they had some maturing to do, as well as developing a need to stay healthy.
Given the state of the program and the apparent direction it is heading, Florida State may be within reach of ending their national championship drought. Heck, it could happen this season if things play out the way they'd like.
If a team can roll through the ACC with an undefeated record and win their non-conference games then they should have an excellent shot of playing in the BCS Championship Game. Florida State's schedule certainly plays in their favor this season, with no tough non-conference games other than the regular season finale against the Florida Gators.
If Florida State can handle their business on the schedule and avoid the annual letdown game along the way, beating Clemson in division play and knocking off in-state rivals Miami and Florida State as well as Virginia Tech, then Florida State could easily make a run for a BCS title as early as this season. Consider them a hot team to watch in the fall, and not quite a front-running championship candidate.
Last National Championship Claimed: 1997 season
Michigan returned to the BCS last season in the first year of the Brady Hoke era, and there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about the Wolverines in 2012, although there are some holes to plug between now and the fall that could be a concern.
If Michigan is going to make a national championship run they may want to do it this season, because it will not be long until Urban Meyer and Ohio State are back on top of the Big Ten after serving a postseason ban this year. Hoke needs to keep up with the strong recruiting that the Wolverines have been doing so far because the way Michigan's schedules will play out will hinge on the outcome of those bouts with the Buckeyes.
Here is the thing. Late losses typically kill BCS aspirations (most of the time). Michigan can run the table from September through October, but a loss in the regular season finale against Ohio State opens the door for somebody else. Add in the possibility that Michigan could have to beat Ohio State twice in a row in two weeks with the Big Ten Championship Game and you can imagine how difficult getting to the BCS Championship Game will be for Michigan.
And we have not even touched on the other programs Michigan has to get by, such as Nebraska, Michigan State, Wisconsin etc.
This may not be the season for Michigan to think about a BCS title run, but if they happen to upend the reigning champions from Alabama in Week 1, we'll talk.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Lou Holtz led the Irish to their last national championship, in the 1989 Fiesta Bowl. AP Photo.
Last National Championship Claimed: 1988 season
Notre Dame sticks to their old-fashioned ways, with football independence being heralded internally in an age when realignment and expansion are all the rage. We give the Fighting Irish credit for standing by their self-proclaimed values as a football power.
But the fact is it has been a long time since the last time Notre Dame football truly meant anything in the grand scheme of things. Sure Notre Dame has had a few good seasons here and there since clinching the national championship with a 1989 Fiesta Bowl victory, but as revenue expands in conferences, Notre Dame is starting to fade in the college football landscape—if in fact they have not already.
Notre Dame could benefit from joining a college football conference, and being aligned with a conference could boost their chances of getting back to a national championship, but nobody from South Bend will be likely to admit that.
Notre Dame challenges their football program with a tough schedule, which is a tremendous credit to their vision, but it still comes back to recruiting. Does Notre Dame have the ability to offer what other schools do not?