Top Ten Winningest College Football Programs + Some Thoughts
On November 6, 1869, Rutgers and Princeton played what is commonly held to be the first college football game. Played on the site where the current Rutgers gymnasium sits, Rutgers prevailed 6-4.
As a graduate of Rutgers and Florida, college football has always been a huge part of my life. I feel fortunate to have attended schools which are historically connected to college football.
Rutgers from an historical standpoint and Florida from a winning perspective.
Most of my awareness as a living person has involved college football.
It's always been there for me. It's all the things you've heard used to try to explain it.
But it's meant even something more to me. Something intangible; something I can't always put my finger on.
How do I explain that as a 46-year old man, married with three wonderful children; a teacher by profession; I spent most of my Saturday writing, talking about, and thinking about college football?
Or about spending an hour on the telephone with a friend of over 30 years talking about which Florida Gator head coach each of us thinks was most instrumental to the current state of Florida football.
And I'm not just talking about wins and losses. I'm talking about in-depth stuff.
My wife asks, "Why do you talk about that stuff? How do you remember all those things? Who cares?"
My answer, "Because it matters to me. It's important. That's why."
(I say to myself)
I put together this factual list with my thoughts in the hope that some of my passion for the game will come across to you and hopefully inspire you to think about the game as I do.
If nothing else, perhaps you'll realize that you're not alone.
It works for me.
10. Southern California
Total Wins (as of the end of the 2009 season): 772
White horses, Trojan warriors, and a team that through the years has always donned black shoes regardless of the current trends in college football fashion. C'mon. How can you not respect the Trojans?
The legions of great teams and players from USC could fill college football's Library of Congress.
And while it's become trendy to lately lampoon the Trojans (I'm guilty as charged!), there's no denying the program's place amongst college football's elite programs.
Total Wins: 773
As a Gator fan, this one hurts. But here are the Volunteers of Tennessee.
Years ago, I attended a Florida-Tennessee game in Knoxville. I came away so impressed with the campus, their fans, and the stadium.
Situated along the Tennessee River, Neyland Stadium is an absolute monolith.
From the stands, you can look out along the river and see the multitude of boats of all sorts moored as their respective owners sing along to "Rocky Top" inside one of college football's grand palaces.
I'll never forget that day, nor what Tennessee football means to their fans and the college football world.
Total Wins: 791
One of my friends, a casual college football fan, was lamenting former USC coach, Pete Carroll's defection to the NFL.
"To me, Pete Carroll was college football," he claimed.
To myself, I thought, "Are you kidding me?!"
Having come of sports age during the 1970's, Oklahoma Sooner football was college football.
And I'm not talking about the program's current administration either.
I'm talking about the Oklahoma Sooners of Chuck Faribanks, Barry Switzer, Steve Owens, Greg Pruitt, Billy Sims, and the Selmon brothers.
I'm talking the wishbone offense.
And I'm talking about one of the storied programs in all of college football.
7. Penn State
Total Wins: 811
There is nothing more intimidating than waiting in line at the Beaver Stadium urinal troughs in late November in Happy Valley with about a million other Penn Staters waiting too, and when your number is called, you're all of a sudden gun shy.
That's a jam you don't want to get yourself into.
And yet, with all their passion, I've found most Penn State fans to be a gracious bunch.
No program that I know of is held in such high regard.
From iconic coach Joe Paterno's stature, to the players, coaches, and fans, WE ARE Penn State, means much to many.
Total Wins: 813
More pain for this Gator fan as I "pen" these words.
If SEC football is king, then Alabama football is king of the SEC.
Legendary coach Bear Bryant, in many ways, has come to represent the face of college football.
Alabama fans are well-regarded for their passion, loyalty, and sense of their rightful place amongst college football's best.
This is a powerhouse college football program with its best years behind them, amongst them, and in front of them.
5. Ohio State
Total Wins: 819
There was a time in my life when I was huge on the Buckeyes.
Watching great runners like Archie Griffin and John Brockington, I rooted hard for Ohio State back in the day. Plus I was digging on the Buckeyes that adorned their glimmering silver helmets.
Lived in Jacksonville when Woody Hayes punched Clemson's Charlie Bauman during the 1978 Gator Bowl.
To me, Hayes was my Bobby Knight of college football. Both whom I admired for bringing their respective philosophical approaches to the games they coached.
To this day, when I think of programs that help define the college football world, I have to put Ohio State right toward the top.
Total Wins: 827
Much like the Oklahoma teams my youth, I grew up too surrounded by the mammoth success of Nebraska football.
Think about it: The Cornhuskers. What a great nickname. And the straight forward "N" on the helmet.
Nothing fancy. Just great, hard-nosed football.
With coaching legends Bob Devany and Tom Osborne, a list of former great players too numerous to name, and bowl games until the cows come home, no one can question the legitimacy of Nebraska's greatness.
3. Notre Dame
Total Wins: 837
Okay, now we're getting into Mount Olympus territory.
I don't care what anyone says, Notre Dame is college football.
We're talking legends and lore of biblical proportions here.
Notre Dame football.
Nothing else needs to be said.
Total Wins: 845
You going to mess with Bevo?
Big, bigger, and biggest.
That's Texas football.
Total Wins: 877
I mean, look at those helmets!
As much as I like the New York Yankees; I dislike Michigan as much.
But you know what?
Michigan is to college football what the Yankees are to baseball.
Michigan football is the winningest program in major college football.