Argumentation. It’s a cornerstone of college football. Hell, it’s how each year’s National Champion is decided. And in the absence of actual games, a fan’s readiest refuge will be to start fights with others about how many more times Beano Cook burped his favorite team than theirs through his flapping, wheat-germ-encrusted pill hole during College Gameday.
Recognizing this, ESPN.com released its own subjective ranking of college football’s 30 most prestigious programs, giving users the chance to re-rank them in their image. Look, it ain’t the all-time best, it ain’t the all-time winningest—it ain’t even the all-time arrested-est, but for die-hard fans of college football stuck in the organized sports void of February and March, it beats the frostbitten dick off of pretending to care about the NHL All-Star Game.
Here’s my ballot. Take it for what it’s worth (gospel) and feel free to bitch about it in comments. (ESPN’s ranking in parentheses.)
1. Michigan (8): Overtaken in all-time wins by Texas in 2008, but that won’t stop them from packing the nation’s largest stadium in silent, yawning droves
2. Notre Dame (4): AIDS isn’t going away, and neither are these assholes
3. Alabama (6): An all-time bowl appearances record (56) nearly as imposing as its civil rights record
4. Ohio State (3): Just one losing campaign in 42 years. That’s better than Ralph Nader can say!
5. Oklahoma (1): Love their work, but like Capri pants, the Sooners are prone to sitting out whole decades
6. Southern Cal (2): Does anyone in the greater Los Angeles area even know what a “college football” is?
7. Nebraska (5): Arguably the best team in college football since 1962
8. Texas (7): Have won at least one conference championship in every decade
9. Tennessee (12): Enjoy this spot while you can, Vols fans
10. Penn State (11): Was more like Kent State before Joe Paterno started shedding ear hair on the Nittany Lions’ sideline
11. Georgia Tech (18): The home of Heisman, history’s biggest blowout (220-0, vs. Cumberland College) and the world’s largest wadded up ball of graphing paper
12. Florida State (9): Before becoming the team of the ‘90s, the school was one tubby hire away from dissolving the football program entirely in the ‘70s
13. Miami (10): Averaged 65 percent attendance in its last national championship season. If you can’t convince your fans that the team’s worth a runny dump, you’re not convincing anyone else
14. Georgia (14): If you ask Dawgs fans, UGA is No. 1. And No. 2. And Nos. 8-15.
15. Florida (15): Rolling now (both figuratively and out the door of Golden Corral’s all-you-can-eat afternoon special), but didn’t win its first SEC title until 1991
16. LSU (13): A better showing in the ‘90s would have put the Tigers in the top 10
17. Syracuse (29): The fact that this program is so closely watched despite offering nothing worth watching this decade is testament to its prestige. Drafting rankings must be an entry-level position at ESPN.com
18. Arkansas (19): Like Mexico, they’re not much to look at now, but you should have seen them tangle with Texas back in the day
19. Michigan State (26): An institutional metaphor for the entire state of Michigan since World War II
20. Texas A&M (20): More gameday traditions per capita than any team in college football. Unfortunately, they recently added losing among them
21. UCLA (16): Slightly more collegiate than cross-town rival USC, but vastly less “good” at football
22. Pittsburgh (27): Living higher on its pre-war reputation than George W. Bush
23. Washington (17): Third-most Rose Bowl appearances ever; and at least one in every decade
24. Clemson (22T): Its most legendary figure (John Heisman) is better known for coaching Georgia Tech
25. Auburn (21): Could be the most historically jobbed team in college football. Or maybe they’re just walking, human dongs
26. BYU (25): Cradle of the spread offense, nerdy overachievement and the post-game wife dump
27. Colorado (22T): More ungrateful for its football program than Miami, USC and Dylan Klebold combined
28. Iowa (30): Nice guys, but no national titles, nor a Rose Bowl appearance in nearly 20 years
29. Ole Miss (24): The national champions of head coach turnover
30. Arizona State (28): Seriously?