Elite Status Solidified


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Elite Status Solidified
I wrote a blog this summer where I compiled a list of several categories of criteria in search of defining the nation's elite football programs. I went back over the past five years and looked at winning percentage, division titles, conference championships, BCS bowl game appearances, BCS bowl wins, New Year's Day Six bowl appearances and wins, College Football Playoff appearances and wins, and national titles.

My research led me to the opinion that there are four teams among the elite of college football. The teams I put in that category were Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State and Clemson. The teams I considered but were not able to put in the elite category included Oklahoma, Oregon, TCU, Baylor, Michigan State, Notre Dame and a few others.

This past football season only reinforces the status. Oklahoma had a fine season but couldn't reach the playoff. Oregon is in shambles and fired their coach. TCU has disappointed. Baylor has been an embarrassment. Michigan State had an awful campaign, and Notre Dame went 4-8.

Florida State didn't continue on their trajectory, but was still solid and are going to a New's Year's Day Six Bowl, while Alabama, Ohio State, and Clemson are headed to the playoff again.

In the three years, we have had a playoff; Alabama is the only team to go all three seasons. Clemson and Ohio State are the only schools to make two appearances. Florida State, Oregon, Oklahoma, Michigan State and Washington have been selected once.

Alabama and Ohio State have won five of the last seven national titles and have separated themselves as the top two programs in the country, but Clemson can solidify its seat at the table in the next few weeks.

One thing we have seen is how difficult it can be to maintain greatness in this sport. Last year Ole Miss, Notre Dame, and Michigan State finished in the top 11, but each had a losing record this season. In 2014, Oregon, Baylor, Arizona and Mississippi State finished in the top ten but couldn't maintain their success. In 2013 South Carolina and Missouri finished ahead of Alabama.

Many Gamecock fans want to tell you how Clemson will fall from grace after Deshaun Watson's final game at Clemson, but the Tigers have recruited extremely well, and I don't see a big drop off coming. Also, lets not forget the football program will move into perhaps the nation's finest football facility this spring and recruiting could see more blue chips as a result.

Dabo said before last year's national title game, "Clemson's going to win a national championship. If not this year, it will be soon." I believed him then, and I still believe him today.

The Brad Hughes All-State Insurance Agency



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