With recent conference expansion talk, and revisited claims of “who’s the best,” I decided to start comparing apples to apples and determine the best college football program of the decade (2000-2009).
Finding the best, especially during a decade with considerable parity, is a difficult and naturally subjective task. Basically, you need determine what measurements you want to use and how you want to use them and that is exactly what I did.
Keep in mind we’re comparing the accomplishments of players currently retiring from the NFL along with bright-eyed 18-year-old rookies. A decade spans players, coaches, Athletic Directors and even conferences as a whole.
In a way, it should be simple to pick a Program of the Decade in the 2000s with the advent of the BCS, a system designed specifically to pick the two “best” teams and have those teams settle it on field.
Although in the end, the BCS may have caused more confusion than ever before because the old system (or lack of) was knowingly and inherently flawed. With the promises of getting it right, the BCS seemed to just infuriate almost everyone and demonstrated the caste system that is college football.
Either way, it is clear that the decade belonged to six elite programs along with a handful of others that were either remarkably above-average but never great, as well as a few who were able to reach the top at some point.
Geographically, the decade took a strong turn to the Sun Belt states, albeit with a few exceptions. Eight teams from five conferences won BCS championships demonstrating parity, at least among the elite.
To determine the Top 10 Programs of the Decade, I developed a six-part formula measuring the following criteria: Rankings, Winning Percentage, BCS Success, Quality of Losses, Quality of Wins and BCS National Championships.
All categories have two common and simple themes: winning is rewarded and losing is punished (at least implicitly).
To measure, the top team in each category received 100 points and subsequent teams received the number of points equal to the percentage earned of the winner. For example, if Team A was the best in a given category with a score of 20, and Team B was second with 19, Team A would receive 100 pts and Team B would receive 95 pts.
Teams also received 100 points per BCS National Championship. As stated above, this is an inherently subjective exercise. For example, I found ways to justify four different champions with the same data sets and categories just by changing a few things, but eventually I settled on a formula I could live with. A more detailed description can be found at the end.
On to the countdown...