I sway back and forth on my rocking chair, scotch in hand. I sit my young whippersnapper grandson down and prepare to tell him a story.
“Son, it may be hard to contemplate, but there was a time in college football when Alabama and Clemson weren’t the only teams who could win national championships.”
“You’ve had one too many,” he says.
“That’s where you’re wrong,” I scoff. “There were times when parity was prevalent. When anyone could win on any given day. When teams had to walk uphill in 100 MPH winds both ways just to get to practice. And you know what? Win or lose, fans loved those teams dearly because they played their hearts out every Saturday.”
He looks into the fire, then directly into my eyes. “Roll Tide,” he says.
Alabama and Clemson’s recent College Football Playoff dominance (mostly Alabama’s) has proved that college football is a game of peaks and valleys. Alabama wasn’t great from the late ’90s until Nick Saban arrived in 2007. Clemson didn’t eclipse 10 wins from 1991 to 2010. Some programs that were relevant in the 80s and 90s are nowhere near contention now.
When your team has immense success though, you can start taking winning for granted. Heck, Nick Saban even called out Alabama fans for not appreciating close wins because they expect every game to be a blowout.
Most fanbases don’t have the luxury of downplaying wins. They stick with their team through thick and thin, rain and shine. Some are stuck in a torrential downpour while others have a mixture of cloudy and sunny days.
There are six programs who have as passionate of fans as anyone in the country and consistently put out a respectable product on the field. However, they haven’t been able to win it all in a very long time. Or ever.
These six teams deserve a national championship because what’s more fun than watching a team get over the hump? To these fans, a title would mean the world because one championship in a lifetime is more than enough.
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The Wisconsin Badgers are one of the most consistent programs in all of college football. They recruit huge offensive linemen who eat nothing but cheese growing up and put an All-American running back behind them. It works well. It has a ceiling, though.
You can count on Wisconsin to get around nine wins per year and consistently win Big Ten West division titles, but there’s a clear separation between them and programs like Ohio State.
This school last won it all in 1942. Wisconsin deserves a national title because Badger fans would turn Madison into a madhouse. Boy, would that be fun to watch.
My only personal interaction with Georgia fans has been at the College World Series over the years. My ears are still ringing from all the barking. I’ve never had the privilege of stepping foot on the UGA campus, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about Athens and Sanford Stadium. It seems like a riot.
While Alabama and archrival Florida have captured multiple national titles this century, Georgia has been on the outside looking in. The Bulldogs are more than 40 years removed from their last national championship, and nearly won it all in 2018, but of these teams, they’re by far the closest.
Oregon was as close as they could get to winning a national championship in 2011. The only problem was they ran into an Auburn team led by an unstoppable Cam Newton.
Eugene is known to be an incredible college town. Plus, Autzen Stadium has a reputation as one of the best atmospheres in all of college football. Mix all this with the fact the Ducks have had double-digit wins in nine seasons since 2008, and the result is a program that as all the ingredients to take the next step.
Also, college football needs a West Coast champion not named USC.
I can speak from firsthand experience when I say there are few college football fanbases as passionate as Texas A&M’s. The Aggie faithful lives, breathes and eats college football. There’s a tradition for nearly everything. There’s an elaborate pageantry to game day at Kyle Field. There’s a pep rally practice in the middle of the night.
Texas A&M fans haven’t seen a national title since 1939, but Jimbo Fisher is well on his way to building a championship caliber program. College Station would absolutely erupt if the Aggies took home a title.
There’s a special place in my heart for West Virginia. I believe “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is the greatest victory song in the sport. I loved watching Pat White and Steve Slayton back in the day, and their fans are a straight up blast.
West Virginia would just be a fun champion. Who would really be that mad besides Pittsburgh? Plus, the celebration in Morgantown would be a party for the ages.