It wouldn't be a good college football off-season without a meaningless debate, right? As the season approaches we've already seen multiple award watch lists released and before too long we'll be seeing just about everyone under the sun release their rankings. You can pretty much guess which teams will be included in those preseason rankings because they are pretty much the same every year. In fact, some of these teams have become a brand name and that brand has superseded the actual quality of the program itself. The term we use to describe that scenario is "overrated" and here's my take on the ten most overrated teams going into the 2012 season.
10. Auburn - The Tigers are going to be two seasons removed from their 2010 BCS championship but let's take a look at their overall resume. Auburn has appeared in just two SEC championship games since the turn of the century with the 2010 season being the most recent. They have also produced two national championships in the history of their program and also have three Heisman Trophy winners. Not a bad resume but also not one deserving of the preseason hype bestowed upon a team that has a losing record to in-state rival Alabama and SEC foe LSU.
9. Tennessee - The Vols have been playing college football since 1891 and are one of the top brands in the nation. They claim six national championships but haven't sniffed one since 1998. Since the turn of the century they are 94-59 and have had three losing seasons in the last four years. Tennessee has no Heisman Trophy winners.
8. Penn State - The current child abuse scandal is going to rightfully tarnish Joe Paterno's legacy but before the former coach's death he guided the Nittany Lions for 45 seasons with a .749 winning percentage. However, let's once again go to the records and determine Penn State's relevance to the current world of college football. Penn State won national championships in 1984 and in 1986, like Miami, seemed to be on the verge on a college football dynasty. However, that turned out to be the heyday of football for the Nittany Lions as they now look back over twenty years ago and wish things could return to the way they once were.
Penn State has appeared in a BCS bowl game only twice (with a 1-1) record. Since 2000 they have suffered four losing seasons and only eclipsed the ten win mark three times. They are currently on a streak in which they have lost three of their last four bowl games.
7. UCLA - The Bruins won a national championship back in 1954 but you'd be hard pressed to prove that the 50's weren't the heyday of UCLA football. They haven't won a conference championship since 1998 and haven't won the coveted Rose Bowl since 1985. Since 2000 the Bruins have a 77-73 record and are currently coming off back-to-back losing seasons. UCLA has an overall losing bowl record (15-16-1) and have had one Heisman Trophy winner.
6. Oregon - The last three seasons have been exceptional for the Ducks. They won the Rose Bowl last year, lost the BCS championship in 2010 and appeared in the Rose Bowl following the 2009 season. However, while Oregon may be heading in the right direction, prestige isn't built over a three-year period and the Ducks still have a ways to go. The have a sub .500 bowl record (10-15), have never had a Heisman winner and have only had four consensus All-Americans in the history of their program.
5. Miami - Flashback to the mid-80's and early 90's and we're talking about a team that dominated the world of college football. From 1983 to 1991 the Hurricanes won four national championships. It looked like they were poised to make another run after winning the BCS national championship in 2001 but instead the bottom fell out of the program.
Miami returned to the BCS championship in `02 but a loss to Ohio State ended a winning streak that dated all the way back to the 2000 season. Since leaving the Big East for the ACC in 2004 Miami has a 59-40 record and is on their third coach. The Hurricanes haven't won a bowl game since the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl.
4. BYU - I've got to be honest here. I just don't get the hype surrounding BYU. They are a good program that actually claimed a national championship in 1984 and has a Heisman winner as well. However, that's just not enough to be considered a perennial power in my opinion. They have benefited from the level of competition played in the Mountain West but even at that they are 92-47 since 2001. Now that they are independent they have the opportunity to give their schedule a boost but.
3. Notre Dame - If we're talking about nostalgia and historical teams then Notre Dame could top the charts. The Irish claim 11 national championships and boast seven Heisman winners. However, that was a different era of college football. The Irish have seldom been relevant since their last national championship in 1988.
In 2000 the Irish earned a trip to the Fiesta Bowl but were trounced 41-9 by Oregon State. Their second trip to the Fiesta Bowl after a 9-3 2005 season, Notre Dame was defeated 34-20 by Ohio State. The next year they made their third BCS Bowl appearance and were dominated 41-14 by LSU in the Sugar Bowl. Finally in 2008 they defeated Hawaii, in the Hawaii Bowl, for their first bowl win since 1994.
In the, "What have you done for me lately?" world of college football the Irish are 2-6 in bowl games since 2000 and have an overall record of 86-62 during that same span.
2. Virginia Tech - The Hokies seem to be a team that everyone...well...loves to love. Even I've been guilty from time to time of picking them to win their conference or as a BCS title contender just because they are Virginia Tech. However, as the harsh reality of the situation sits in we see that the Hokies are really nothing more than a decent program at best. They've won a total of 8 conference championships in 120 of football, have never won a national title and have a losing bowl record (9-14). That's a far cry from national prominence and is the main reason VT is so high on this list.
1. Texas A&M - Ahhhh...and we've finally arrived at our most overrated program in college football. SEC fans, once you really get to know the Aggies and your buyer's remorse sets in please understand that the Big XII doesn't want them back. A&M is going to compare themselves to Alabama, LSU, and Florida with one exception, they've never won anything! At least Bama, LSU and Florida fans have teams that can back up the overall thoughts of the fanbase on the field while the Aggies are mired in mediocrity and yet trying to portray the lavish life on a true champion.
Raise your hand if you can remember the last time Texas A&M won a national championship. If your hand is in the air then congratulations on being around over 70 years ago and still in good health today. True to their new SEC form the Aggies are now claiming retroactive championships from 1917, 1919 and 1927. Look out Bama, you've got some competition!
In 16 years as a member of the Big XII conference A&M appeared in one BCS bowl game, a 24-14 loss to Ohio State, and had an overall 2-9 bowl record. Not exactly the stamp of pride you want representing your conference. What's even better is that they have a 65-85 record against current SEC teams.