Then again, they weren’t the only guys wearing Trojan jerseys who failed to lay a hand on Texas’ Vince Young the whole night, let alone when the Longhorns’ quarterback took off for the right corner of the end zone with 8 yards and 19 seconds left in the 2006 national championship game at the Rose Bowl. If just a single USC defender arrived in time to stop Young, college football would have only one three-time national champion since 2000 and no debate about the team of the decade.
Instead, three schools have won it all twice — so if you’re not in that club, take a seat.
That means you, Oklahoma, even with the best overall record (102-19) and the most Top 10 finishes (eight in nine years) of the bunch. You, too, Texas, since even a win in the game of the century — see above — still only counts as one championship. And don’t forget to save chairs for Miami and Ohio State.
Sorry, too, if you’re what used to be known as a “small school.”
Six Division III titles since 2000 makes Mount Union the unchallenged team of the decade — in Division III. Ditto for those four Division II crowns at Grand Valley State, and the back-to-back-to-back FCS championship trophies collecting dust at Appalachian State.
This stage is reserved for the big boys. And in what has been the sport’s golden era by just about any measure — talent, dollars, attendance, TV ratings, TV deals, classic games, upsets for the ages and yes, even celebrity fans — there are only three contenders still standing.
Another title this year for any of those three settles the debate. And if Oklahoma were to win a second instead — no small feat, given the Sooners’ 1-3 record in title bouts since 2000 — then the program’s sustained excellence brings it squarely back into the argument. In fact, statistical analyst George Sarkisian crunched most of the same numbers from the past decade used to determine the annual Massey Rating — records, rankings, strength of schedule, margin of victory, offensive and defensive rankings, etc. — and rated Oklahoma well ahead of USC (fifth), Florida (seventh) and LSU (which didn’t make his Top 10).
And if none of those scenarios play out?
Southern California gets the nod.
Carroll has turned USC into the closest thing to a national program that college football has seen in decades, willing to play anyone, anywhere, anytime and mercilessly carving up opponents in nearly every postseason bowl appearance. For all the talk about how much tougher the Southeastern Conference is than the Pac-10 — which went 5-0 in last season’s bowl games, by the way — look at who Florida and LSU choose to schedule outside the conference.
CFT: Senior receiver Wilson Van Hooser is transferring from Tulane to help care for his ailing mother.
DPS: Alabama head coach Nick Saban was recently trash-talked by colleagues, and he tells Dan Patrick he wishes he was spoken to in private prior to the insults.
Deciding best college football team of 2000s
Who's top school? Check out contenders and decide
Video: Football from NBC Sports
Saban hurt by colleagues' comments?
DPS: Alabama head coach Nick Saban was recently trash-talked by colleagues, and he tells Dan Patrick what he think of these comments.
BCS title game
Pregame color, key plays and other moments from 'Bama's blowout win.
Check out the action from the postseason.
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Check out some of the college football cheerleaders from across the country.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Since 2002, USC has finished in the top 4 in every final AP poll. No other school has finished in the top 12 every year. In fact, USC, Ohio St., Oklahoma and Texas are the only schools to end each of the last seven seasons in the Top 25.