National Championship Drought: How Long Is Too Long?
Before I begin this article, I must confess that I'm a die-hard Notre Dame fan. I live and die with the Irish and more recently, I've been dying.
I've seen a lot of criticism towards Notre Dame in recent years, with people saying that Notre Dame is irrelevant in college football. Part of this, I’m sure, is Notre Dame’s stellar streak of nine bowl losses.
Be that as it may, not every team that is near the top of college football now was near the top in past years. This season marks 20 years since the Irish have raised the National Championship trophy above their heads.
The last coach to deliver that trophy for the Irish can now be seen on College Football Live on ESPN sparring with Mark May on a regular basis.
In this article, I will examine the National Championship droughts of what some would call the some of the better teams in the nation.
Louisiana State University
It only seems fitting that I start with last year’s National Champion.
LSU won the National Championship last year (2007). They also won the title by split decision with USC in 2003.
Prior to 2003, however, the last time that the Tigers won the title was in 1958—that’s 45 years.
Ohio State University
The Buckeyes have been in the National Championship the past two years, both times coming up excruciatingly short by margins of 14 points against LSU and 27 against Florida.
This year, they are one of the favorites to win the title, but can they follow through? The last time OSU won the National Title was in 2002.
Prior to 2002, however, the last time the Buckeyes won the National Championship was in 1970—that’s 32 years.
University of Southern California
Since the Trojans hired Pete Carroll, it seems as though they have annually been included in the National Championship discussion, and this year is no exception.
The last time USC won the National Championship was in 2004, with Matt Leinart behind center. In 2003, they received the AP’s vote for National Champion while LSU took the BCS vote for National Champion.
Prior to 2003, however, the last time the Trojans won the National Championship was in 1978—that’s 25 years.
University of Michigan
Michigan has more recently been tagged as an up-and-coming team but hasn’t quite been getting it done on the field, partly thanks to losing at the hands of OSU five out of the last six years.
This year, Michigan is expected by many to be in a down year with the transition to a new coach and a new scheme. Nevertheless, the last the Wolverines won the National Championship was in 1997, which is 10 years ago.
Prior to 1997, however, the last time Michigan won the National Title was in 1948—that’s 49 years.
University of Texas
Texas has seen great success since the days of Vince Young. This year, they are poised to make another run for the title in the Big 12.
The last time the Longhorns won the National Title was in 2005, when Vince Young and Texas made a run over Matt Leinart and USC.
Prior to 2005, however, the last time that the Longhorns won the National Championship was in 1970—that’s 35 years.
University of Tennessee
The Volunteers are ranked 18th to start this season.
Usually, Tennessee is a fairly decent team, but like Georgia, they are part of a brutal SEC conference and thus annually play a hard schedule. The last time The Volunteers won a National Championship was in 1998.
However, prior to 1998, the last time that Tennessee won a National Title was in 1967—that’s 31 years.
University of Georgia
The Bulldogs are ranked first in many pre-season polls this year. However, it has been quite a while since they have brought home a National Title.
Part of this can be attributed to the unquestioned strength of the SEC conference. The last time the Bulldogs won a National Title was in 1980—that was 28 years ago.
However, prior to 1980, the last time that Georgia won a National Title was in 1942—that’s 38 years.
Additionally, there are teams in the nation that are now considered by many to be strong teams year in and year out, but have a short history of National Championships.
Just a couple of examples are Florida State (’99, ’93) and Florida (’06, ’96). In both of these cases, the Seminoles and the Gators hadn’t won a National Title prior to their runs of success in the 1990s.
Finally, in all fairness, there are teams that have managed to maintain a respectable amount of time between National Championships.
In the case of most of these teams, the span between National Titles usually doesn’t exceed 15 years. Some of these teams include (with most recent National Title in parentheses): Alabama (’92), Oklahoma (’00), Miami (’01), and Nebraska (’97).
So, what do these numbers tell us? That almost no team is immune from a National Title drought of some sort.
Everyone can agree that Notre Dame had a horrible season last year. However, their recent history has shown that they are still very much in the national spotlight, either by their own doing or with help from the media.
Additionally, Notre Dame, prior to Weis, had gone through probably one of their worst stretches of coaches with Bob Davie and Tyrone Willingham, which produced some of the lousiest football in Notre Dame history—not including last year’s debacle.
What does this mean for the Irish?
Notre Dame could very well be near the hunt for another National Title in 2009, if their talent progresses as it should at the skill positions and on the offensive line.
Charlie Weis has recruited very well since his arrival at the Golden Dome and we will start to see the benefits of this recruiting.
Hold on, Irish, our time to hoist that trophy once again is approaching rapidly. When that time comes, we will all rejoice together.
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