As a lead-in to our preseason coverage, CBSSports.com continues to rank each Division I-A program based on performance this decade. We're calling it The Golden Decade.• Decade rankings: 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-50 | 51-70 | 71-90 | 91-110 | 111-120
This list concludes our ranking of Division I-A during this decade.
1. USC: Mike Garrett got incredibly lucky.
|Pete Carroll has racked up the hardware in L.A. (Getty Images)|
Hey, but what was Pete Carroll doing? Nothing, it turned out. The selection of the former Patriots coach went over like a rainy day in L.A. When the Trojans started 1-4, things got worse.
Carroll, though, was the spark.
What happened next defined the decade. USC won 53 of its next 58 games and two national championships. Three players won Heismans. There have been seven consecutive Pac-10 titles and BCS bowls.
The names defined the decade: Bush, Leinart, Palmer. The success rejuvenated the program.
Sure, Garrett got lucky, but USC got back to the top.
"The real exciting thing is, I don't feel like we're at the end of it," Carroll said. "We're in the middle of it, this is our world."
2. Oklahoma: Calm down 'Horns.
OU gets the nod over Texas because Stoops has won those six Big 12 championships. Two of his quarterbacks have won Heismans (Jason White and Sam Bradford). There is that nasty business about five consecutive BCS bowl losses but how many teams would kill for a chance just to get to that point?
3. Texas: In 2000, Mack Brown was wondering if he would make it at Texas. In his first two seasons in Austin, Brown had won 18 games. Ricky Williams had won the Heisman. He was getting the distinct impression it wasn't enough.
What followed is one of the best runs in the history of the game. Beginning in 2001, there began an ongoing streak of eight consecutive seasons of at least 10 victories. Texas has lost all of 18 games this decade.
All of it pales, though, behind Vince Young scrambling for the game-winning touchdown in the 2006 Rose Bowl. Finally, the pressure was off Brown. He had his national championship. There might have been another in 2008 if the 'Horns hadn't lost that Big 12 South tiebreaker.
4. Florida: Steve Spurrier began the decade winning the SEC. At the end of it, the patriarch of the program was apologizing to the program's best player.
If you missed Ballotgate then you missed a tale of two coaches. Spurrier has lost his swagger at South Carolina. Part of his legacy was lost too when he had to apologize to Tim Tebow for leaving him off the preseason all-conference ballot.
Things have changed so much this decade that the question is a legitimate one: Will Urban Meyer surpass Spurrier as the most accomplished coach in Florida history?
Meyer goes for three championships in four years in 2009.
5. LSU: Nick Saban closed the borders. Les Miles kept them sealed. For years, Louisiana's best high school talent had trickled out to places like Texas A&M and the rest of the SEC. Saban, a dogged recruiter, kept his prospects at home and won a national championship in his fourth season.
After Saban left for the Miami Dolphins (and eventually Alabama), Miles stepped in and won a title in his third season. In this decade the Tigers have been known for their attacking defense.
We are left with one of the most amazing stats of the decade: LSU had four players drafted in the first round of the 2007 draft, then won that year's national championship!
|Jim Tressel has put a stranglehold on the Big Ten -- and the Michigan Wolverines. (Getty Images)|
In addition to dominating the school up north, Tressel has won at least a share of five Big Ten titles and a national championship. He's one of four coaches this decade to win a title within two years of taking the job (Larry Coker, Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops are the others).
Oh yeah, and he is 7-1 against Michigan.
7. Miami: Is the 'Canes' dynasty over? In this decade we've seen the best and worst of Miami football.
Taking over for Butch Davis, Larry Coker won his first 24 games (part of an overall 34-game winning streak), winning a national championship in his first season. It has come to this: Miami hasn't won 10 in a season since 2003 and hasn't been ranked at the end of the season since 2005.
Randy Shannon is trying to get the swagger back, but has only two years on his contract and the administration won't extend him.
8. Georgia: When Mark Richt arrived in Athens in 2001, he never thought he would last this long. Eight years later, Bobby Bowden's former offensive coordinator has won at least 10 in six of his eight seasons while winning two SEC titles. Matthew Stafford was the NFL's No. 1 draft choice in April.
9. Virginia Tech: The Hokies played the first title game of the decade, losing to Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.
Michael Vick gave way to a group of quarterbacks who couldn't measure up. That only highlighted Frank Beamer's coaching ability. An afterthought in the ACC expansion, the Hokies have become the conference's dominant team.
10. Utah: Remember Ron McBride? No, you don't. He was Utah's coach at the beginning of the decade. McBride was a solid, not great, coach. His name will go down in history as an opening act for Frank Sinatra.
Urban Meyer (who has two teams in this top 10) arrived in 2003 and changed the landscape. His quarterback, Alex Smith, became a No. 1 draft pick. His team became the first non-BCS program to break through in the restrictive system.
Changed the landscape? Notre Dame dallied just a bit in pursuing its former receivers coach and lost Meyer to Florida. Defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham has kept things chugging with an undefeated season in ’08.
This is meant in the nicest possible way: Utah is the No. 2 football factory west of the Rockies.