Desperately seeking the dynasty
Sorry, Nick Saban, but creating a long run in today's game is nearly impossible
Since the Bowl Championship Series came into existence 13 seasons ago, only 12 teams have played for a national title, and only 18 have finished in the top three of the Associated Press rankings; since 2006, nine schools have signed 71 percent of all five-star-caliber recruits, according to ESPN.com rankings. Once you are in college football's ruling class, it is very difficult to fall out of favor; meanwhile, gaining entry into the ruling class is possibly the hardest thing to do in all of sports.
This is the college football world in which we live; if you are looking for parity, this sport is not for you. You can call it an oligarchy, call it a monopoly, call it unfair; we call it progress. As stratified as college football may seem, building and maintaining a dynasty in today's landscape is much more difficult than it was in decades past.
We often complain about the weak nonconference schedules that BCS contenders face these days. Although the schedules may be getting easier (at least on the front end), the top teams are still losing more games than in previous decades. From 2000 to 2009, 46 FBS teams lost one game or fewer in a season. In the 1950s, that figure was 52. In the 1970s, it was 78. Dynasties are formed in college football when a program wins or challenges for the national title many times in a series of seasons; that is more difficult to do with the current number of upsets taking place.
Teams are playing more games now -- this is obviously also a factor -- but big upsets are more common. National champions and co-champions in the 2000s lost a combined six games; five of their six losses were to teams that lost four games or more in those seasons. Those five losses are the same number suffered by all champions and co-champions from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s combined.
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