College Football’s Iconic Football Programs
I’m not sure “iconic” is the exact word, but that’s what I’m going with here. What I’m looking for is the schools with the richest, deepest tradition in college football, the programs that most everyone knows of, mainly because of success on the field. Here’s my take on which schools belong in a class by themselves as most iconic, followed by a few tiers that came close, but don’t’ quite make the cut. My vantage point starts with an earliest cognizance of college football around maybe 1969, and a genuine attentive interest by 1971, so different generations may disagree with my opinion, but I’d argue against ‘em.
Alabama, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ohio St., Penn St., USC, Texas
There they are. Just nine of ‘em. I don’t think it’s coincidence that none of these schools has changed their helmets in the last forty years or so. Sacred logos. Or in Penn St.’s case, sacred lack of logo.
Miami, Florida, Florida St.
A younger generation would probably substitute these schools for three of The Iconics. They’re good enough candidates to command a class by themselves, but the Florida powerhouses didn’t come into prominence until the 80s, which granted, is a long time ago, but not quite deep enough in history to rank with The Iconic.
LSU, Tennessee, Texas A&M
These schools have a rich history but it seems as though they were more often than not taking a back seat to one of The Iconics. They were usually strong enough to command their own level, though.
Arkansas, Auburn, Michigan St., UCLA, Georgia Tech, BYU
Consistent programs that have occasionally found their way to the top, or at least very close. Maybe not always a better winning percentage than those listed in the lower levels, but somehow seem to have a higher profile.
Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Pitt, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Washington
These schools have been among the best at times. But they’ve been among the pedestrian almost as often.
Boston College, Clemson, Purdue
This level could probably be lumped in with level 5 but I felt compelled to separate. Clemson had some good years under Danny Ford and they’re currently doing well. Still, they just don’t seem to have implanted a profile that’s outstanding enough to rank any higher.