Saturday, April 14, 2012

Top 50 College football teams- 1906 -2012

50 in 50  Presents  College football’s 50 Greatest  teams
Billy Canon

              that’s a big  freakin  statement!
Choosing 50 teams out of 12,000+    
What makes me able to do this?

No one can, its all a matter of opinion,
It doesn't matter if you use a million computer programs;   in-list every sports writer in the country, its still just an opinion.

                                                                    So this is going to be mine.
Here some of my bonafidas
I am a huge fan, have been since I was old enough to pay attention to John Forney on the radio.
For the last 20 years, I’ve worked at the Paul W Bryant Museum,
 SO  I live and breathe college football every day,
now I don't know a damn thing about pro football,
but in the world of College football
I got game! 

Working @ the Bryant Museum,  gives me acess to the Museums one of a kind collections
The Museum's has a Library of  1000 + books about college football;  every aspect of the game,  every time period, and a book on almost every important team to the history of college football.
The collection has thousands of  game films, primary Alabama but not all, more importanly the collection has video from every decade since the 1920s,
So if I want to learn about the style of play during a certain period I can  read about it;  Watch several game films from that era, and if thats not enough I can browse the Museum's 100+ years of newpaper collection for more details. 
  But maybe the most important aspect of my 2 decades of working @ the Museum and my lifetime being a fan- is the wealth of friends who are also crazy football fans and frankly a lot smarter than me!   and I will be asking them over the next month or so. 

BUT Its still just mine opinion- and its going to be a bias one- it just is
I cant help it-
but I’ll be as unbias as a bias person can be,
I make no bones about the fact that the SEC is the greatest league in college football and has  been for a very long time.

I have set some criterianot many, but a few,
first I’m only going back to 1906- why 1906

The forward pass-                  that’s why 

Historians can debate about 1869 or 1873 all they want but until the forward pass was legalize colleges were playing ruby! 

Next  a team had to play @ least 8 games during the season,  its really hard to compare a team that dominated a season but only played 5 games- Eight  is a enough  
  to make a comparison-

The last one- a team can not make this list if they were on probation  and/or had to forfeit games.

Ok that’s it – Again this is just a list! No teams were harmed in the making of this list.

Alright its game time!!

50. 1959 Ole Miss 10-1
        Final ranking- AP # 2  UPI # 2

Ole Miss is one of only  3  teams to make this list with a loss. It’s certainly a legitimate  question to ask why any 1 lost time or for that matter  a team with a tie should make this list, with so many unblemished  teams to pick from, well believe it or not there isn’t that many to choose from!
 A quick count and I do mean quick,  produces 109 teams since 1906 with perfect records, of course that is more than 50, so back to your question-
Why 10-1 Ole Miss?
Cause if not for the 7 to 3 loss to Heisman trophy winner Billy Cannon and the Tigers of Baton Rouge, which the Rebels whitewashed in  a Sugar Bowl rematch 21-0,   this team could be the greatest team of All- time.
Johnny Vaughn in the middle
But a loss is a loss,
so @ # 50 is  Johnny Vaught and the Ole Miss Rebels   

            The 1959 Ole Miss rebels only gave up 21 points, the entire season!
In eleven games they only gave up 21 points!
Charlie Flowers
 3 touchdowns.

Two of those touchdowns were scored against  the scrubs in mop rolls in the  Tulane and Tennesse games, while the other one was a 98 yard punt return by Billy Cannon,  on a Halloween on the road, in what most college football gurus have called the Game of the Decade.
Billy Canon's 98 yard punt return
The Rebels shut out eight teams, including a shut out/ blow out  versus  the team(LSU) that beat them during the regular  season .

The Twenty-one point total is the lowest,
 for teams with  8+ game schedules,  in history of college football.
Of the eleven games  Mississippi played,  they won ten by 15+ points.

The 1959 Rebels led the nation in points scored with  350 points.

So to recap-

Offense scored more points than anyone in 1959
Then when the players  switched over to the defensive side,remember in 1959 they played both ways
 so when the players switched sides

           OH YEA!!!!
They only  set the All-Time NCAA record for least points given up in a season!
Hell maybe they should be a lot higher! 

1912 Harvard Vs Brown
49 1912 Harvard  9-0   Voted # 1 outing magazine, 
and retroactively  chosen by 5 selectors for # 1 in 1912
 Let me state again   this is all MY opinion  Me guessing 

BUT I think it’s an educated Guess 
One of the benefits of working @ the Bryant Museum is the access to one of the greatest college football collection in country, So when I want to look @ the 1912 Harvard team, I can look thru several different sources; Some from that time period and a few from with an historic view.

So for # 49 of my top 50 College football teams, I pick the Cantabs of Harvard.
1940 Football
1904 football

   If 1906 saw the legalization of the forward pass then, 1912 was really the year it was ratified, passes could be throw further than 20 yards down field, and a pass caught in the endzone was a touchdown, not a touchback. 
The ball itself would see changes, from a ruby style to a more aerial shape.  

1912 was also the year the points awarded for a TD become six. 
 Another big rule change that happened 100 years ago- the addition of another down-
 a 4th down- to get 10 yards for a first down was added. 
Bingo! That’s a goodie

The 1912 Harvard Team
   When trying to decide if I should add the 1912 team to this list, I checked schedules of other  traditional powerhouses of the period. 
And hands down, the 1912 Crimson's had the toughest.
Brickley, Hardwick, Mahan, Logan
 With solid wins against respectable teams from Brown and Dartmouth, then wins against national powerhouses, like Yale & Princeton, and another game against certainly the toughest Southern team of the era, Vanderbilt. Vandy, Yale & Princeton finished in Outing Magazine’s 1912 rankings. 
        Outing was one of the game’s earliest selectors.

In their 9 games,  Harvard shut out 6 opponents and only gave up 22 points total, and 10 of those points were late in the Brown game while the subs were playing. 

Harvard wasn't a one sided group, they could move the ball on anyone, scoring 176 points in 1912.
 Future Boston College coach Charley Brickley led the nation is scoring, and he did it with his feet, running them and kicking with them! Brickley was sure thing kicking field goals from 40 yards.
He held the Harvard scoring record for many years.

Coached by, one of the All-time greats, Percy Haughton. Haughton would lead the Crimson’s in its longest unbeaten streak in school  history. Of which this team was a part of- 
1912 through 1914, they were 25-0-2 

It’s really important to repeat this 
this is just an opinion, my opinion.

How can one compare teams from a different era?

                          The simple answer is your can not.

And I'm not trying to do that for this blog, for one thing you can't do it, it would be impossible to compare, the 1912 Harvard  team to the lightening fast Oklahoma teams of the 50s. 
                           So why try?
I'm just looking at looking @ season stats, toughness of schedules,  what the experts of the period and current historians have wrote about the teams. But maybe as important as any of that,  is looking  at the tons  intangibles that must happen for a college football team have a special year, 
                                                             yes that includes luck. 
My main goal for this blog is not to pick the greatest teams, but to stir up debate, thus getting college football fans to remember why they have made the college game the second most popular sport in American.
I believe us fans have made it # 2, because of the uniqueness of the game; the national conversation college football fans have about the sport. 
Because much like this top 50 list, college football has always used debate, and opinion to pick its champions.
This is why college football is on the rise, while college basketball and its ever expanding playoff is declining.
                                          In college football every Saturday is a play-off,

College football is about the debate, much like this blog, so please let me know what you think 
and please leave me feedback and give me your top teams.

# 48 1968 Ohio State 10-0  AP, FWAA & UPI # 1
The Buckeyes of Columbus Ohio, have a long & proud football tradition,
 and in that storied history the 1968 team is considered by many who follow OSU, as one of the school's strongest.
  Head coach Wayne Woodrow Hayes, 1968 team would  produce 11 All-Americans and six first-round NFL draft picks both a national record for over 2 decades.

The Buckeyes defeated 4 top 20 teams during the 68 season, and the combined record of all Ohio State's opponents was a solid 49-51-1. 

The '68 team did it with an explosive offense and a serviceable defense. 
the Buckeyes started the season late (Sept 28) with a solid 35-14 win over pass happy SMU, which propelled them from 11 to 6th in the AP poll, then after a upset of maybe Purdue’s best team in history by a score of 13-0, the buckeyes settled into the # 2 spot behind USC. 

1968 Ohio State- Michigan game

                After  whuppin Michigan 50-14,  

Ohio State jumped USC  to # 1 and the 1969 Rose Bowl was set with # 1 vs # 2   
The Trojan had an early led, but Ohio State’s defense stepped up and forced two OJ Simpson fumbles, and took a 27-16 victory  and won the first Buckeyes national championship in 11 years. 
       QB Ken Kern and company finished in the top 10 in all major offensive categories for the 1968 season, and the Buckeyes score 30+ points in 6 out of their 10 games.

The defense was good enough to hold teams to an average of 15 per game. 

A bit of Ohio State trivia, 1968 was the first year the school awarded Buckeye pride stickers.


  1. I think you mean Johnny Vaught, as in Ole Miss plays football in Vaught-Hemmingay Stadium, named after legendary HC John Vaught.

  2. I think I would pick the 45 Army as the best