As an Irish fan, I hear annually that Notre Dame is dead—after all, their last title was in 1988. The "win now" generation of college football was founded on one simple question: What have you done for me lately?
I contend college football is cyclical; programs undergo cycles of good and bad years. Oklahoma, Texas, USC, and Alabama all experienced some pretty dry years before returning to the top. Miami, Florida State, Nebraska, Tennessee, Notre Dame, and Michigan are currently experiencing varying degrees those struggles.
This spring, I did some thinking about college football's cyclical nature and wanted to know exactly how much time schools have waited between titles. I researched titles won each year, and the fourteen programs displayed have been involved in a pretty decent lion's share of championships.
The attached image is a shot of my spreadsheet sorted by most recent championship. Numbers are relative to the 2007 college football season.
The gaps some schools have endured between championships echo the nature of the game—while a program may be down, it isn't necessarily out.
A number of schools on this list have gone over thirty years between titles.
Notable gaps in the past
Michigan: 49 years
Ohio State: 34
Southern Cal: 25
Notable current droughts (through end of 2007 season)
Penn State: 21
Notre Dame: 19
Has it been a little while between titles for Notre Dame? Absolutely.
But, given college football's past—a past shared by historically strong programs—I wouldn't declare the program dead quite yet.