Matador Sports (Ole!) has composed a list of ten football teams that have fallen from their former greatness.
Revenge of The Fallen
Still, sometimes the stars align in such a way that a great program descends into mediocrity and can’t find its way back. These 10 former powerhouses can attest to the old adage that all glory is fleeting.
1. Notre Dame
No compilation of the greatest college sports dynasties would be complete without mentioning the Fighting Irish at least once. Between 1946 and 1949, the program won three national championships with an incredible 36-0-2 record. This was after winning six national titles from 1919-1930. From 1964 to 1988 they would win four more trophies. It’s now been 24 years and counting since the storied team has won a title. There have been bad losses at home, coaches fired after middling seasons, and repeated failures to make bowl games. Students and fans continue to look for the light at the end of the tunnel.
3. Southern Methodist University
Back-to-back national titles in 1970 and 1971 cemented the Cornhuskers into powerhouse status. In 1973, coach Tom Osborne took over and the team won at least nine games in every one of his 25 seasons there, with national championships in ’94 [BOGUS], ’95, and ’97. After Osborne left, the program held on until 2002, then the slide began. The 2004 season was the team’s first losing one in 43 years. In 2007, the Huskers lost five consecutive games for the first time in 49 years. After firing their coach and hiring Bo Pelini, NU has finished 10-4 and 9-4 in two years, and commentators are beginning to wonder if a return to former glory could be on the horizon for one of the winningest programs in history.
The Pittsburgh Panthers of the modern era are not a bad team; they made seven bowl games in the 2000s. It’s just that they were once so successful, and then they fell off the map for 40 years. Beginning in 1910, they won at least a share of 13 national titles in 29 seasons, with winnings records in 27 of those seasons. But from 1938 to 1972, they recorded 22 losing seasons and only attended two bowl games. They turned it around in 1973 and won a national championship in ’76, and stayed ranked nearly every year until 1990, when they fell off the map for the entire decade, recording just one winning season. The ’76 title was their last since.
7. Texas A&M
8. Florida State
Michigan’s legacy of football greatness was rolling right along before the kickoff to the 2007 season. This was the school that had claimed 11 national championships and 42 conference titles in its storied history. Then they lost to Appalachian State at home in the opener. Then they got pummeled by Oregon. They salvaged the season and won their bowl game, but then they got a new coach who overhauled the offense. The result was a 3-9 record, the Wolverines’ first losing season in 41 years, followed by another losing season the next year. A 7-5 record in 2010 was not enough to save the coach’s job. The 10-2 record of last year was promising, but long-time Michigan fans are still awaiting the school’s first national title since 1997.
10. Fordham University
Among the comments, some feel Minnesota and the University of Chicago were slighted. Oklahoma and Tennessee also received mention.