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college football dynasty maybe or maybe not

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It is no accident that only one program has built a dynasty in the past 20 years. With no disrespect meant to any team on the list, dynasty came more easily when Notre Dame played a nine-game season in the 1940s, or Alabama played a 10-game season in the 1960s, or even when the Crimson Tide and Miami played an 11-game seasons in the 1970s and 80s. In recent years, national champions regularly play 14 games.

Dynasty came more easily before 1974, when polls declared a national champion before the bowl games. For that matter, dynasty came more easily when there were five bowls, not 35.

Minnesota won its three AP national championships (1936, 1940, 1941) in eight-game regular seasons and didn't play in a bowl after any of them. In fact -- shades of the Crimson Tide a year ago -- the Golden Gophers finished second in the Big Ten to Northwestern in 1936 but still finished No. 1 after the Wildcats lost to Notre Dame late in the year.

The dominance of Notre Dame in the postwar era, when the Fighting Irish played four seasons without a loss (36-0-2, 1946 to 1949) is self-evident. Oklahoma won 47 consecutive games without a loss from 1953 to 1957. Not only does that streak remain the longest in college football history, but only two programs have come within one season of matching it. Miami (2000 to 2002) and USC (2003 to 2005) both won 34 consecutive games.

Earlier iterations of the Hurricanes and Trojans qualified as dynasties without the winning streaks, because they brought home more hardware over longer periods of time. USC won three wire-service championships from 1967 to 1974. Miami built the longest sustained dynasty, which also happened to be the most unusual. In the decade beginning in 1983, Miami won four national championships (1983, '87, '89, '91), fell one loss short of four others ('85, '86, '88, '92), and did it all under three different head coaches: Howard Schnellenberger (1983), Jimmy Johnson (1984 to 1988) and Dennis Erickson (1989 to 1994).

The odds of Alabama becoming a dynasty have narrowed considerably as the Crimson Tide have whittled their task down to one game. Should Notre Dame upset Alabama, the Tide still would have an opportunity to create that dynasty. But the task of achieving it would expand from winning one game to winning 14 next year. Even that is a bargain. When the FBS schools begin the four-team playoff in 2014, the national champion likely will have played 15 games, nearly double what Minnesota played when it established its dynasty more than 70 years ago.
After everything is said and done, more is said than done. - Noah



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It's always been exceptionally hard to do, and involved some luck as well as talent and superior coaching. I don't think of dynasties and college football in the same breath, but winners are winners and there have been some exceptional teams throughout the history of the sport. No doubt it keeps getting harder all the time to bring sustained excellence to the field. The thing the really great teams never do is give up on that goal of excellence.
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