College Football’s elite programs

No one can argue that Big Al and the Crimson Tide have been elite over the last four years. Photo: USA Today Sports

I was working on another article for this site and going over the final Top 25's for the last four years and thought it would be interesting to look back at the most consistent teams over that time period. In this day and age, college football is very competitive and there is a lot of parity as the mid-majors and even the FCS schools compete at a higher level than they have in the past. Staying at the top of the mountain is very difficult and those schools that have been able to do so put themselves in rare company.

Over the last four years, there have only been seven teams that have finished in the AP Top 25 every season. These seven teams also have won three of the last four National Championships. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Oregon Ducks

Worst finish: 9th in 2013

Highest finish: 2nd in 2012

Average finish: 4th

Oregon has finished in the Top 10 every year out of the last four years, finishing in the top five every year under Chip Kelly and finishing ninth last year in Mark Helfrich's first season. The Ducks have lost only six games over this time period. Sooner or later, if they keep up this level of consistency they will hoist a trophy.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Worst finish: 10th in 2010

Highest finish: 1st in 2011 and 2012

Average finish: 5th

Nick Saban's four year run has included two National Championships book ended by top 10 finishes in 2010 and 2013. Most coaches would kill for a resume like that.

Stanford Cardinal

Worst finish: 11th in 2013

Highest finish: 4th in 2010

Average finish: 7th

Stanford has just eight losses over the last four years and they seem to have got over the Oregon hump, beating them in each of the last two years. The Cardinal have won the Pac-12 Championship Game two straight years, have gone to the Rose Bowl the last two years and have been in four straight BCS bowl games.

LSU Tigers

Worst finish: 14th in 2012 and 2013

Highest finish: 2nd in 2011

Average finish: 9th

The Tigers were stronger in the first two years of this four year run, losing two games in 2011 and narrowly missing a National Championship win in 2012 (not in the game, but in the season). They've lost three games in each of the last two years but continue to find themselves in the middle (or higher) of the Top 25.

South Carolina Gamecocks

Worst finish: 22nd in 2010

Highest finish: 4th in 2013

Average finish: 11th

After going to a SEC Championship Game in 2010 and losing five games, the Gamecocks have stepped up to the next level over the last three years. In each of the last three years, they have lost just two games but have found themselves on the outside looking in at the SEC Championship Game. The Gamecocks are the only team out of this group that have consistently gotten better each year as they've been ranked higher every single season.

Oklahoma Sooners

Worst finish: 16th in 2011

Highest finish: 6th in 2010 and 2013

Average finish: 11th

Over the last four years, the Sooners have lost just ten games and have two BCS bowl victories to their credit. They are the class of the Big 12.

FSU Seminoles

Worst finish: 23rd in 2011

Highest finish: 1st in 2013

Average finish: 13th

The Seminoles are a team that many have considered underachievers over the recent past. From 2010-2012, they lost ten games and went 1-1 in ACC Championship Games. Last year, they finally got over the hurdle and won the big one.

The next group (teams that have been in the Top 25 in three out of the last four years): Ohio State, Michigan State, Boise State, Wisconsin, Clemson, Texas A&M, Nebraska

These seven teams are not only the most "consistent" in all of college football, but they have become the elite programs over the last four years.

About Kevin Causey

Dry humorist, craft beer enthusiast, occasionally unbiased SEC fan, UGA alumni, contributor for The Comeback.