In the wake of the Texas Longhorns and ESPN agreeing to a 20-year, $300 million deal, it's time to look back at the most influential programs in the history of college football.
The Longhorns now have their own network, dedicated to the athletic and academic pursuits of the burnt-orange clad population of Austin, Texas for all 24 hours, each and every day. You'd be kidding yourself if you thought that football wasn't going to be the main draw.
But the significance of this move goes beyond just the athletic ramifications. Sure, Texas gets increased exposure and revenue, but the deal makes an unmistakable statement about the program.
ESPN would never have considered making this deal if the Longhorns weren't one of the most influential programs of both college football history and modern college football.
They demand attention, so they got it.
Now that we've settled that, let's move on to the 50 most influential programs of college football.
But first, what makes a program influential?
Success is definitely one component, and sometimes enough success can make up for a dearth of other influential aspects. However, success is not vital to a program's place on this list.
Doing something truly revolutionary, changing the way the game is played and coming up with more subtle contributions works as well.
So without further ado, read on to find out how the 50 most influential programs stack up, with one twist. The following 50 teams are, in my opinion, the 50 most influential of all-time, but they aren't ranked in order of their historical significance and influence. Rather, they're ranked from bottom to top in order of current influence.
Rest assured that all of the top current programs are well represented.
The Waynesburg Yellow Jackets currently play in the PAC, which in this case doesn't stand for Pacific but instead for Presidents' Athletic Conference. Yes, that means that Waynesburg is now a Division III school.
Other than holding a career 2-0 record against Penn State, thanks to victories in 1931 and 1932, the only significant game in the program's history, at least for our purposes, was played in 1939.
In that game, the Yellow Jackets fell 34-7 to the Fordham Rams in the first televised game of college football.
Now that virtually every important game is on television, this is undoubtedly an influential program.
As for the current state, have you ever heard of Waynesburg?
Fordham has 722 wins in its history, the fifth most of all-time, but they are, after all, an FCS team now.
The reason that the Rams sneak onto the list is because they were one of the two participants in a game that paved the way for modern television broadcasts.
On September 30, 1939, Fordham took on Waynesburg College in the first televised college football game ever. They won the game 34-7 before losing the next week to Alabama in the second-ever televised college football game.
Also, some guy named Vince Lombardi played for them.
But currently, no one really knows about Fordham, so the influence is minimal.
Ever since the inaugural game against Amherst in 1867, the Brown Bears have not exactly been a storied college football program.
Their biggest team success may very well have been sharing the 2008 Ivy League title with Harvard.
However, John Heisman played for the school from 1887-1889. Obviously, this is the man for whom the famous Heisman Trophy was named.
Were it not for his playing career at Brown and his subsequent coaching success at other programs, we would be left without the most prestigious award in all of sports.
And for helping to build both the athletic career and the character of Heisman, Brown deserves a spot on this list.
The spot is at the bottom, though, since Brown's program carries very little influence now.
Penn calls itself "college football's most historic program" for good reason.
In accumulating 808 wins, the Quakers (now in the FCS) racked up 15 conference titles and seven national championships.
The school is the alma mater of John Heisman, the man for whom the trophy is named, and it plays at Franklin Field, the oldest college football stadium, and once had an exclusive contract with ABC in 1950 and more.
The number of games that Penn has played (1,313) is the highest such number in college football.
Penn might be "college football's most historic program," but that doesn't mean that they have any influence in the present.
The Harvard Crimson are one of the oldest teams in the sport, with the inaugural squad taking the field in 1873. Because of that extra time, and a lot of dominance in the early years, Harvard is the eighth-most winning program of all-time. They've racked up 810 wins throughout the years.
Between 1875 and 1920, the school won 12 national championships, but it has failed to win a single one in the past 90 years.
The Game, played against Yale every year, is the second-longest continuing rivalry in college football.
Even though they've been rather irrelevant for quite some time, Harvard was without a doubt one of the most dominant teams in the early stages of the sport.
The early stages are quite different than the modern times, though.
On November 6, 1869, the College of New Jersey (which would later become Princeton) took on Rutgers in an away game and lost 6-4 in the first ever game of college football. A week later they won a home game against the same Rutgers squad.
They would later be retroactively given a share of the 1869 national championship, the first of an NCAA-record 28 national titles.
Largely because they were the inventors of the sport, Princeton dominated college football's early stages, winning 22 of the first 40 national championships.
Now they're just a lowly FCS team. But that doesn't matter as much as the fact that this is one of the two schools that helped create the sport.
Also, Princeton had the first organized cheerleading squad back in the 1880s. Personally, I can't imagine football without that wonderful influence.
But as for the influence now, Princeton's is rather minimal.
Yale has one of the oldest and richest traditions in college football, dating all the way back to 1872.
In the program's first 38 years, the Bulldogs took the national title 26 times.
They now play in the FCS, but that doesn't diminish the overall accomplishments.
Yale has recorded 865 wins, trailing only Michigan in the all-time standings among all college football teams and only slightly ahead of Texas, second amongst FBS teams. The school has produced 100 All-Americans and two Heisman Trophy winners and has won 14 conference titles and 27 national titles.
Walter Camp, the "Father of Football," wore a Yale uniform from 1888-1892, but is only one significant player in the school's storied history.
Finally, Yale and Harvard engage in The Game each and every year. Going back to 1875, the annual rivalry is one of the best in the sport.
Even though Yale has all but disappeared from relevancy in the minds of most college football fans, the Bulldogs' contributions to the sport cannot be forgotten. Without Yale, college football would have no chance of being where it is today.
Yale may be, in my opinion, the single most influential program in college football history, but if history consisted of just the modern era, they'd be nowhere near making the list.
Appalachian State gets onto the list because by producing one of the greatest upsets of all time, they inspired FCS teams into thinking they could play with the big boys.
On September 1, 2007, the Mountaineers traveled to Ann Arbor to play the Michigan Wolverines in front of a sold-out Michigan Stadium. The smaller school hung with their fifth-ranked opponents for most of the four quarters before kicking a field goal to take a 34-32 lead. A blocked field goal later and one of the greatest upsets ever was complete, marking the first time ever that an FCS team knocked off a ranked FBS team.
As ESPN's Pat Forde wrote, "We'll still be talking about it a few decades from now. Especially in the locker rooms of every huge underdog, where they'll say, 'If Appalachian State can beat Michigan, why can't we shock the world, too?' "
Do you really think that James Madison could have beaten Virginia Tech without the influence of Appalachian State's 2007 squad and the proof that the little guys could compete?
Appalachian State can't make it any higher in these rankings though, because they haven't done much in the national spotlight since 2007.
The Duke Blue Devils are influential because they've been a perfect model of the exact way you don't want to run a football program.
Since 1994, Duke has gone 254 straight weeks without making it into the AP Top 25. That's the 13th-longest current streak among all college football teams.
So, why pick Duke as this type of influence when there are 12 schools with longer streaks?
Well, Duke basketball has been so excellent that we have no choice but to regard Duke as a sports school. So the lack of success in the other major sport is somewhat inexplicable.
In 1869, Rutgers won the first-ever game of college 6-4 by beating the College of New Jersey (which would later be known as Princeton) in a home game. Because of this, Rutgers became known as the "birthplace of college football."
The problem is, since then Rutgers has not been as successful. Their record is barely over .500 and the sole national title came in 1869 when they split it with the College of New Jersey after losing the next, and only other game, of the season.
Rutgers has been ranked in 52 different season but has only advanced to six bowl games, five of which came in the last six years.
If it weren't for that first game, Rutgers would not be on this list, but there is no denying that creating a sport counts as influencing its development.
After missing the required record for bowl eligibility in 2010, Rutgers slipped back into obscurity, putting a damper on any influence that the school might be able to muster up.
The SMU Mustangs have won three national championships and claimed 11 conference titles, but the real reason they're on the list occurred in 1987.
After numerous NCAA violations, the Mustangs became the first and only school to ever receive the "Death Penalty." The return from the sanction to being successful again took about 20 years.
This was influential because it was a true warning to other teams to not violate the NCAA's rules. Or at least, to not get caught while violating them.
SMU is back on the right track now, but the Mustangs have a long ways to go before they become influential again.
Syracuse earned their lone national title in 1959, and they only have four conference titles and one Heisman winner in their history. In fact, the Orange's record is only 684-481-49 since the inaugural season in 1889.
So why, you may ask, is Syracuse present on this list?
The answer is the No. 44.
Jim Brown was the first significant player to wear the number, then Ernie Davis after him and finally Floyd Little. The number was subsequently retired and remains so associated with Syracuse that the university was granted a different zip code to include the number.
Brown and Davis were two of the greatest running backs to ever take the field and were instrumental in breaking the color barriers in collegiate football.
More recently, there have been some good players, but no great ones. As a result, Syracuse's opinion doesn't carry as much weight as it used to.
One of the traditionally great programs in college football belongs to Clemson University.
The Tigers have produced great talent and results ever since their inaugural season in 1896. Seventeen All-Americans have played in the orange uniforms and have helped the school advance to bowl games 32 times.
Clemson went undefeated in 1981 to take home the national championship and one of their 17 conference titles.
The school has numerous traditions, including rubbing Howard's Rock, and has served as a great model for many up-and-coming programs.
Clemson has been out of the national title picture and plays in a weak ACC. Their influence is limited.
Nevada hasn't been the most successful program of all time by any stretch. In fact, they've failed to win a single national championship or produce any Heisman Trophy winners.
However, Chris Ault, the current head coach, created the Pistol Offense in 2005, a scheme which has since been adopted by many other teams, including Alabama, Arkansas and many more.
Because of this creation, Nevada earns a spot.
As for the program's current influence, the Wolf Pack might have just beaten Boise State, but they're still a rather small program that appears headed for a bit of a free-fall in the rankings.
From 1882 to 1942, Minnesota was one of the better teams in college football. They won an astounding five national titles, including three in a row from 1934-1936, making the Golden Gophers the last team to accomplish that feat.
The team was mired in mediocrity until 1960, when they rose from the ashes to win the school's sixth title.
Since then, the success has been far less common. But overall, Minnesota has still won 635 games and 18 conference titles while producing one Heisman Trophy winner: Bruce Smith in 1941.
Minnesota might be just a mediocre team right now, but they do have some influence because they play in a big conference.
The Colorado Buffaloes are influential for both having a historically successful program, and something we'll get to later.
As for the success, Colorado has the 16th-most wins of all time and their 665-435-36 record gives the school the 22nd best all-time winning percentage.
Colorado has produced one national champion, the 1990 squad, and one Heisman Trophy winner, Rashaan Salaam in 1994.
Now that I've mentioned that 1990 team, it's time to move on to the second reason that Colorado has been influential.
Colorado won their game against Missouri that year by scoring a touchdown on the game's final play, which just happened to be a fifth-down conversion. I won't get into the details here, but that was not a typo.
The Buffaloes' game-winning play was quite influential to referees everywhere, who were inspired to not let anything similar happen again.
This past year, Colorado proved it can hang with the elite programs still by taking down the Georgia Bulldogs, but it has a way to go before it regains the influence it once had.
The Black Knights were one of the first real powerhouses in college football. During 1944, 1945 and 1946, Army put together a 27-0-1 record and won three national titles.
Presidents (yes, that is a picture of former President Eisenhower) and Heisman Trophy winners alike have played for this school. It boasts one of college football's oldest and most storied rivalries. The Army-Navy matchup set the tone for more modern rivalries.
In fact, the 1926 edition of that game reportedly had over 114,000 people in attendance, one of the largest audiences for any game in the history of the sport. When darkness rolled in, the game was forced to end in a tie, setting a record for the largest number of people left unsatisfied with an outcome.
Army may have faded out of the national championship picture in more modern times, but the program's early history still makes it one of the more influential schools in the country.
The fanbase, widespread and passionate, has helped Army maintain both its relevancy and influence.
Quarterback U is another program that has been quite successful over the course of its history, which in this case ranges back all the way to 1889.
The reason that Washington has become Quarterback U is that 16 of the last 18 quarterbacks for the Huskies (soon to be 17 of 19 after Jake Locker graduates) have gone on to play in the NFL. That streak dates back to 1970.
Washington has the 20th-best winning percentage of all time and the 21st-most wins. The school has also won 15 conference titles and four national titles, despite never having a single Heisman Trophy winner don its jersey.
The Huskies have also had 12 unbeaten seasons, seven of which consisted of nothing but wins.
Washington appears to be headed in the right direction, and with that shift will come a subsequent gain in the influence category.
With a 640-520-57 overall record, the Navy Midshipmen fought their way to one national title, which came in 1926.
That wasn't the most successful season, though, as the 1910 squad was undefeated and unscored upon.
Navy has produced two Heisman winners, Joe Bellino and Roger Staubach, and has some of the greatest rivalries in the sport, especially the ones with Army and Notre Dame.
Recently, Navy has been nowhere near as successful as they were in the first half of the 20th century, but the fanbase is just as large and helps the program remain quite influential.
The Georgia Tech football program was started in 1892 and reached a high point in 1916 when the Yellow Jackets defeated Cumberland 222-0, while running for over 1,000 yards and allowing no first downs.
In between now and the beginning, the school has gone 672-446-42, won four national championships and secured 15 conference titles.
The Wramblin' Wreck is also notable for being coached by John Heisman, who was well on his way to becoming a legend.
The sheer amount of bizarre traditions and exciting games earns Georgia Tech a spot.
Georgia Tech and the feared triple-option attack have been and will continue to be influential for quite some time.
The UCLA Bruins are one of the few teams that can say they've been ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll every single decade since its inception in 1936.
That truly shows the over-arching success of UCLA, a school which has put together an overall record of 540-374-37.
The Bruins have won one national title and 17 conference titles, thanks to Heisman Trophy winner Gary Beban and the myriad great players that have worn True Blue and gold.
UCLA also plays in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, a stadium which has obviously become quite famous.
Even though the Bruins haven't been nationally competitive for a while, they remain influential in the college football world.
Illinois has been a good football team for quite some time, putting together a career record of 563-513-51.
The Fighting Illini claim five national championships, but their real reason for being on this list is the number of legendary players that have worn their blue and orange uniforms.
Leading the historical greats of Illinois are Dick Butkus, George Halas and Red Grange.
Most significant of the bunch is Grange, who was named by ESPN in 2008 as the greatest college football player of all time. The Galloping Ghost was one of the players that truly helped to popularize football.
No one near the level of Butkus, Halas and Grange have donned the Illinois jerseys in quite some time, but the program is trending up, as is its influence.
Forget about the fact that North Carolina has never won a national championship or produced a Heisman Trophy Winner.
Now, read this excerpt from Bob Quincy's They Made the Bell Tower Chime: "John Heisman, a noted historian, wrote 30 years later that, indeed, the Tar Heels had given birth to the forward pass against the Bulldogs (UGA). It was conceived to break a scoreless deadlock and give UNC a 6–0 win. The Carolinians were in a punting situation and a Georgia rush seemed destined to block the ball. The punter, with an impromptu dash to his right, tossed the ball and it was caught by George Stephens, who ran 70 yards for a touchdown.”
North Carolina invented the forward pass, which is now used quite a bit. That's influential right there.
The recent suspensions that the program has suffered through, specifically those to Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn, have been influential in that they've been a great example to other programs on how to teach their players not to conduct themselves.
Both as a result of their incredible basketball program and their football program, which has been nothing special in modern times, the Tar Heels are very influential.
Since 1889, when the school was known as the Western University of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh has accumulated the 20th-most wins in college football history.
The school also produced one Heisman winner, Tony Dorsett, two conference titles and nine national titles.
Additionally, Pitt is the first team to use numbers on the uniforms as they did so in 1908 under the instruction of head coach John Moorehead.
They were also part of the first live radio broadcast of a college football contest, which occurred on October 8, 1921 when Harold W. Arlin announced a 21-13 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Now, every single Pittsburgh game is either broadcast on the radio or on television and the success of the team has helped give them a good bit of influence.
Since the program's inception in 1894, the Texas A&M Aggies have amassed a winning percentage of 59.9 percent, thanks to an overall record of 674-443-48.
In the process of winning those games, the Aggies won one national title and 18 conference titles. They also let John David Crow take the field and win the Heisman in 1957.
The Aggies have had some incredible traditions, like the bonfire and the 12th man, throughout their years.
Finally, their 1921 game against the Texas Longhorns was the first-ever live, play-by-play radio broadcast of a college football. It was not, however, broadcast nationally.
The Aggies are thought of highly throughout the football world, giving them significant sway in any discussion.
Ever since the Wonder Teams of the 1920s, California's squads have been forces to be reckoned with.
The Golden Bears went 50 straight games from 1920 to 1925 without losing, winning 46 and tying just four. It remains the third-longest unbeaten streak to this very day.
California has enjoyed success throughout the rest of its history (five national championships), but two moments stand out above the rest.
In 1982, the Golden Bears returned a kickoff for a touchdown, evading both Stanford defenders and the marching band with five laterals en route to a game-winning score and one of the most famous plays of all time.
Fast forwarding 22 years, California found itself embroiled in controversy once more. After Texas' Mack Brown appealed for votes in the polls, 10-1 California mysteriously dropped from No. 4 and found itself on the outside looking in at the BCS teams. The controversy caused the Associated Press poll to withdraw from the BCS, leading to the current system we have now with two distinct sets of rankings.
Maybe it's the magic of the Golden Bears nickname, but California does have a significant say in the shaping of college football.
South Carolina has not had as much success on the field as other teams on this list, but they do at least appear to be headed in the right direction. The real reasons for the Gamecocks' inclusion are the great coaches affiliated with the program.
George Rogers is the only Heisman Trophy winner to help South Carolina play their way to one conference title and a 543-539-44 overall record.
But Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier, two of the better head coaches in college football, both roamed the sidelines of Williams-Brice Stadium.
Spurrier is still there, while Holtz has moved on to become a talking head for ESPN, but both have had a profound impact on college football.
As for the current influence, playing in the SEC never hurts. Neither does having Spurrier as a head coach.
TCU recognizes two of its squads as national title winners. The first was in 1935 and the second in 1938.
Since then, the school went through a bit of a dry spell until recent years, where they've become one of the more dominant schools in the country once more.
Thanks to Gary Patterson, the Horned Frogs have been in the national title discussion for each of the last few years, and that doesn't seem like it will change anytime soon. TCU, through its play, has become one of the champions of the non-automatic qualifying conferences and has led many fans to support a playoff system instead of the current BCS system.
They'll move to the Big East in 2012, but for the time being, TCU is one of the most influential small-conference schools of all time and modern times.
Stanford has been one of the key schools in proving that academics and football can mesh, but the program has been notable for many other reasons.
The Cardinal has won 12 conference titles and one national title while producing just one Heisman winner: quarterback Jim Plunkett. However, all three of those numbers could go up after the 2011-2012 season.
In 1902, Stanford competed against Michigan in the first ever Rose Bowl, a game which would quickly become the "Grandaddy of them all."
The overall success across time, the storied rivalries and the band have all become integral parts of college football.
If the three aforementioned numbers go up, so too will Stanford's ranking on this list.
The Tennessee Volunteers first fielded a football team in 1891, and since then have been one of the most successful programs, despite their recent lack of publicity.
The Vols' overall record of 789-340-53 gives them the ninth-most wins of any school. With 49 bowl appearances and 25 wins, the program ranks second and sixth respectively.
Additionally, Tennessee claims six national titles and 16 SEC titles.
Finally, the 22 college football Hall of Famers that Tennessee has produced are the seventh-most of any school.
Once again, playing in the SEC can't hurt a team's current influence. Neither can having an impassioned fanbase.
A relatively young program, the Miami Hurricanes only started playing football in 1926. Since then, they've gone 568-320-19.
Miami has trotted two Heisman winners out onto the field and fielded five championship-winning teams. They've also produced more NFL talent than any other college football team, as evidenced by the numerous NFL Draft records held by the school.
In 2001, Miami put together one of the greatest teams ever assembled.
Throughout recent history, The U truly embodied the swagger of modern day football teams. Miami might not have done anything since the early 2000s, but they remain one of the most influential programs in college football because of their recent history.
The winningest program in the ACC, Virginia Tech has a record of 679-430-46 since its football team was created in 1892.
Along with those wins, the Hokies can claim eight consensus All-Americans and seven conference titles. Their record books are devoid of a national title or a Heisman winner though.
Two notable aspects of the program truly make it influential.
The first is Lane Stadium. Currently seating over 66,000, the Hokies home field may be the loudest in all of college football. When "Enter Sandman" is played, the roar is deafening. This extreme home-field advantage has led to numerous other stadium renovations, all with the hopes of rivaling the advantage that Lane Stadium creates.
Secondly, Frank Beamer emphasized defensive and special teams scoring so much that it led to the creation of Beamerball. During his time at Virginia Tech, there were over 25 special teams touchdowns and at least one by every single position on the defensive squad.
Having the most consecutive 10-win seasons right now means that the Hokies have earned a lot of influence in the college football world.
Forget about all the success and the history that this program has put together.
The biggest influence has been the jerseys. Oregon launched a movement towards more flashy uniforms that Nike has been all over while pushing them towards other schools.
In big games all last year, we saw brand new uniforms that Nike put together for the respective schools, all because of the Ducks' wacky fashion sense.
Now that the program made it to the 2010 BCS Championship, we have no choice but to listen to what the school has to say.
Maybe the uniforms will become an even bigger phenomenon after all.
Playing at Camp Randall Stadium, the fourth-oldest college football stadium, the Wisconsin Badgers have amassed an all-time record of 625-467-53.
The school has produced two Heisman winners, Alan Ameche and Ron Dayne, and has won 12 conference titles but has yet to secure a national championship.
Wisconsin has been a roller-coaster of a program. The school's first win came back in 1890 with a 106-0 victory over Wisconsin-Whitewater and remains the largest margin of victory in school history. However, the next game saw the Badgers lose 63-0 to Minnesota.
Anther example took place in the 1960s. Wisconsin finished ranked No. 2 by both the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll in 1962, but had back-to-back winless seasons just five years later.
The low points of the program's history aren't enough to discount the high points though.
This historically good program still influenced quite a few other teams. Plus, the program is currently at one of the peaks, meaning that they have even more influence than normal.
Auburn is extraordinarily relevant and influential right now.
They won the most recent edition of the BCS National Championship, and the Cam Newton situation is influential for a wholly different reason.
But historically, the Tigers have been an excellent football team as well. Auburn was one of the original members of the SEC back in 1933 and has won seven conference titles since then.
Auburn can claim the 13th most wins in college football history, thanks to their 13th-best winning percentage over the school's 116-year history.
Three Heisman winners, Newton, Bo Jackson and Pat Sullivan, have played at Auburn and helped the program earn nine various national titles, although only two are officially recognized by the school.
Because of the success, Auburn has become one of the more prestigious and influential schools.
It's a shame that the Smurf Turf hasn't become more influential, as it remains the only non-green playing surface in the country.
Boise State has been influential for a much more important reason though. They've given the non-automatic qualifiers hope and prompted a nation's push for a playoff system.
Ever since the 2007 Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma, Statue of Liberty play, marriage proposal, confetti and all, Boise State has essentially sworn off losing football games.
The undefeated records, which came while playing in the WAC, have angered so many supporters of the program that failed to see their national title hopes fulfilled. Simultaneously, they made supporters of other conferences extraordinarily bitter about the dominance of a school from a conference like the WAC.
Boise State paved the way in modern times for the smaller schools, and they don't appear to be going away anytime soon.
For a former WAC team and current MWC team, this is an incredibly high ranking, but the Broncos have earned it.
The Nittany Lions have gone 819-356-43 since their creation in 1887. In doing so, they became just the sixth program to ever reach the 800-win milestone.
Penn State has had one Heisman Trophy winner, John Cappelletti, three conference titles and two national titles.
While there hasn't been as much success as one would think, at least in terms of honors and championships, Penn State has still become an iconic college football program.
Part of the reason for this is Joe Paterno, who is a veritable living legend. While he remains at the school, Penn State will have influence.
LSU makes the list solely because of the great legacy of Tigers football.
The school has an overall record of 709-387-47, good for a winning percentage of 64.1 percent. The number of wins are the 12th-most in the NCAA.
LSU has also had one Heisman winner, Billy Cannon, and has won 13 conference titles and three national titles, the most recent of which came in 2007.
Another SEC team, LSU has significant clout in modern times because they've been a model of success.
The Seminoles were moderately successful until 1987, when they became absolutely dominant.
From 1987 to 2000, Florida State finished in the top five of the AP Poll every single year. In the process, they won two national championships and produced two Heisman Trophy winners, Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke.
The school also lays claim to one of the most legendary coaches of all time, Bobby Bowden, and one of the coolest traditions in college football. Before every home game, Chief Osceola rides out to midfield on a horse and plants a flaming spear into the grass.
Florida State has one of the biggest fanbases in college sports. They travel well, they're loud and they carry a lot of influence.
Now one of the few independent schools in the country, BYU has one of the most unique and passionate fanbases in the country.
Because of their Mormon affiliations, the Cougars have fans spread out all across the world that all have just one thing in common besides their religion: a tie to the BYU football team.
They can boast a Heisman Trophy winner, Ty Detmer, and a national championship in 1984. They even have the record for most consecutive games without being shut out: 361 straight games over a span of 28 years.
Because of both the program's success and its widespread popularity, it's become one of the better ones in the nation for quite some time.
The fact that BYU could become independent is a true testament to just how influential this school has become.
Nebraska is one of the true powerhouses in college football.
The 837 wins that the school has accumulated rank fourth all-time, but over the past 50 years the Cornhuskers have both the record for the most wins and for the highest winning percentage.
With three Heisman winners, 43 conference titles and five national titles, there has been no stopping Nebraska since it first had a football team in 1890.
Because of the huge fanbase and unbelievable success, Nebraska stakes a very good claim of influence.
Since 1892, the Georgia Bulldogs have accumulated an astounding 724 wins, while piling up just 284 losses and 54 ties.
Playing in Sanford Stadium, the 15th-largest stadium in the world and the eighth-largest in the United States, the Dawgs have won five national championships and produced two Heisman Trophy winners.
Some people think that the first forward pass was even thrown during a Georgia football game when a North Carolina player passed the ball forwards instead of punting it during an 1895 contest.
Vince Dooley coached in Athens, Georgia and helped to really put the program on the map.
Additionally, Georgia boasts one of the greatest live mascots in sports. Uga VII now spends games Between the Hedges, continuing the line of white Bulldogs in a tradition that started in 1956.
For all these reasons and more, Georgia is the second team in our top 10. When the program makes a decision, there are always ramifications throughout the college football world.
Just look at the fact that Georgia was still covered heavily despite a mediocre 6-7 record in 2010 for proof.
Despite the weakness of the last few Michigan squads, the Wolverines have still won more games than any other college football team.
Along with the 884 victories, Michigan has only 308 losses and 36 ties, making it the program with the best winning percentage of all time as well.
Michigan has also won 42 conference titles, more than any other school, and 11 national championships, one shy of Harvard's record. In addition to those championships, the Wolverines put together another 12 undefeated seasons.
With three Heisman winners, one of the most distinctive fight songs, a great rivalry with Ohio State and record-breaking attendance numbers, Michigan is absolutely one of the most influential programs of all time.
Yes, Michigan fans, I am prepared for the comments that I'm sure to receive for ranking Michigan behind the Buckeyes, since you and I both know that they're coming up soon.
Let me give you a few records:
Oklahoma has more 10-win seasons and 11-win seasons than any other team.
The program has been ranked in the top 10 and five of the AP Poll for more weeks than any other school. They've also been first more weeks than any other school.
Post World War II, the Sooners have more wins and a higher winning percentage than any other team.
They have the record for consecutive victories and All-Americans.
The Sooners have won 42 conference titles and seven national championships while producing five Heisman Trophy winners.
ESPN ranked Oklahoma in 2008 as the most prestigious program since the advent of the AP Poll in 1936.
They don't often get mentioned among college football's elite for some reason, but they belong up there both in terms of success and influence.
Ever since the team's creation in 1906, the Florida Gators have been one of the powerhouses in college football.
They've gone 662-379-40, winning their way into 37 bowl games, three national championships and eight SEC Championships.
The school has produced three Heisman winners and a phenomenal 138 All-Americans. One of the best was Tim Tebow, a man who truly established the ability to be a dual-threat quarterback in the modern era. Tebow was one of the most popular, most hated, most divisive, most revered, most skilled and most influential quarterbacks ever.
Despite playing in a brutally tough conference, the Gators have won more games than any other FBS team since 1990.
Now that Urban Meyer is gone, though, the program may suffer a bit. Still, Florida is one of the true powerhouses in modern times and that gives them significant influence.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are one of the most successful college football programs of all time, and not just because of their recent success.
13 national titles, eight of which were awarded by the AP or Coaches, have been claimed by the school. Those eight pole-era wire national titles tie Notre Dame for the most in college football history.
Even though Mark Ingram won the school's first Heisman Trophy in 2009, myriad great players helped earn 802 victories, 26 conference championships and an NCAA-record 58 postseason appearances.
Additionally, Alabama made Paul "Bear" Bryant, one of the greatest coaches of all time, into a legend.
Perhaps the program's most influential bit of history, though, is allowing John Mitchell to start in 1970 after transferring to the school. Mitchell was African-American and became the leader of the movement for the desegregation of collegiate football.
They're influential for different reasons now, mainly because they're a premier program that is consistently in the hunt for the SEC title.
Whether it's great players, traditions or teams, Ohio State has produced them.
Archie Griffin, just one of an NCAA-record seven Heisman winners at Ohio State, remains the only man to ever win the nation's most prestigious award twice.
The school has won 37 conference titles, two in the OAC and 35 in the Big Ten. Along with those titles are seven national championships, all just part of the storied 121-year history of the Buckeyes.
Then there's The Best Damn Band in the Land, the tradition of dotting the i of the script Ohio and the incredible rivalry with the hated Michigan Wolverines.
Ohio State has been a model program throughout its history and therein lies its influence.
When people think college football, they think Ohio State. When the president of the university speaks, even if it's just about Boise State, people take notice.
With a 761-307-54 overall record since their first game in 1888, the USC Trojans (formerly the USC Methodists) have been one of college football's true powerhouses for as long as they've taken the field.
USC's 78 consensus All-Americans have helped the program earn 38 conference titles and an incredible 11 national titles.
The Trojans also boast six Heisman Trophy winners now that Reggie Bush's was vacated.
USC has the most consecutive BCS Bowl appearances at seven, the most BCS Bowl wins at five despite the vacated 2005 Orange Bowl victory, the most consecutive 11-win seasons at 11 and the most weeks at No. 1 in the AP Poll at 33.
Thanks to the huge number of NFL players that the school has produced and the incredible fanbase it has surrounded itself with, USC has become one of the most influential programs of all.
Notre Dame has been an independent team since 1887, when the football squad was first created. Since then, the school has had seven Heisman winners, tied for the most ever, and laid claim to 11 national titles.
The Fighting Irish have their own contract with NBC and have one of the largest and most passionate fanbases in college football.
Notre Dame's 845 wins are the most of all time and the 295 losses are less than any other school that has played at least 700 games.
So many legendary figures and games have been produced by Notre Dame, and the school has become virtually synonymous with college football.
In fact, they were the first program to have an exclusive media deal. How is that not influential?
The Texas Longhorns boast one of the most successful programs in the history of college football.
Their 850 wins are the second-most of all time (among FBS teams), as are the 49 bowl game appearances. Even without the chance to win one this past season, Texas has still won 25 bowl games, the third-most of any program.
Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams both won the Heisman Trophy while wearing burnt orange, and the school has taken home the trophy 32 times for winning its conference and four times for being crowned national champions.
Texas was also the first team to implement the Wishbone offense and has had an NCAA-record 105 winning seasons.
Now, Texas and ESPN have announced a 20-year, $300 million deal to launch a 24-hour television network for Longhorns sports. That's a better testament to the influence of Texas football than anything I can write.
As ESPN President George Bodenheimer said, it's "a testament to the school's remarkable, tradition-rich success and widespread, devoted fanbase."
Because of the recent deal, there is no doubt that Texas is currently the program with the most influence.