One way to tell the difference between an all-time college football program and a lesser brethren (let's call this an all-time vs. elite argument) is to observe the effect of an all-timers' duel compared to one among elites.
This weekend, we have a much-hyped USC/Notre Dame game. It's not always as hyped, but on certain occasions the game becomes bigger than itself, stirring up memories of old, and forcing many to take a look back on the game's origins, history, and traditions. Its a game that gets into the consciousness of the college football public (and probably annoys the vast majority of it).
Thing is, you just don't get that between a Tennessee and Georgia, or a Texas and Ohio State (although this year's game certainly added to the game's rich tradition), Oklahoma and Texas or even a Michigan and Ohio State. They just can't match the mystique and power of USC/Notre Dame, or Notre Dame/Alabama, or USC/Alabama, and perhaps a Notre Dame/Michigan.
We can sit and compare titles, Heismans, All Americans, and all the other things, but when games like this come along, they settle a lot of arguments, in my mind.
I know I warned about the hype earlier, but I'm playing into it myself---apologies. The game is the better for such matchups (as well as other elite battles, even if they're not between all-time foes).
Anyway, how would you do an all-time top 10 ranking, and where do you draw the line between the all-time, best ever teams, and the rest of the field?
I don't know about the rest, but I think for the top 3-4 it goes 1)Notre Dame 2)USC 3)Alabama, and there might be room for four (Michigan, perhaps?).
Feel free to reply below with your lists (top it off at around 10 or so teams).
For a guide, here's how one website did their rankings: CFDW