Although it would have been too much to have asked the overworked and understaffed NCAA to do a more thorough job, that bastion of good works did the research to what it calls “Dominant Decades” in college football. Well, at least it did going back to the 1950s.
And the suspicion is they are already complaining that only five years from now they are going to have to do it again!
Nevertheless, for those among the elites of major college football (plus the occasional Boise State-type), there is some interest in those Dominant Decades, which the NCAA determined is from the year Zero to the year Nine. (Some believe that a decade, like a person’s decade based on age, begins with One and ends with Zero; and another definition is that a decade is any 10-year period.)
Alabama was not a factor in the decade of the 1950s, but – no surprise here – in the next two decades, when legendary Coach Paul Bryant was in charge, the Crimson Tide earned Dominant Decade status for the 1960s and 1970s. Although the only criterium of the NCAA research was winning percentage (the lowest to make the list was Ohio State’s 81.1), it was notable that Alabama picked up three national championships in the 1960s (1961, 1964, and 1965) and three in the 1970s (1973, 1978, and 1979).
In winning percentage, Bryant’s teams of the 1960s were sixth all-time, while his 1970s’ teams were seventh all-time.
The 1960s teams went 85-12-3 for a winning percentage of .865, and the 1970s teams were 103-16-1 with a winning percentage of .863. The 1970s team was the first ever to win 100 games in a decade, followed that same season by Oklahoma, which finished with 102 wins.
Oklahoma had three dominant decades, including the best – the 1950s led by Bud Wilkinson. Those teams went 93-10-2, a winning percentage of .895. The other dominant decades by the Sooners were 1970-79 and 2000-09.
Nebraska has also had three dominant decades – the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
Looks like there was some benefit to all those years in the so-called Big Eight, which was really the Big Two.
Other than Oklahoma and Nebraska with three dominant decades and Alabama with two, there are some prominent teams (and a few not-so-prominent) who have achieved the plateau of dominant for a decade one time each. They are:
Florida State 1990s, Texas 2000-09, Michigan 1970s, Miami 1980s, Florida 1990s, Penn State 1970s, Ohio State 1970s, Tennessee State 1970s, Marshall 1990s, and (you thought we were kidding) Boise State 2000-09.
Alabama didn’t come close to making the list in the most recent decade, 2000-09, although the arrival of Nick Saban as head coach for the last three years of that 10-year period made great improvement. For the first seven years, 2000-01, Bama was 46-40, only 53.5 per cent. Saban’s first three years, 2007-09 produced an undefeated season and national championship and a three-year record of 80.5 per cent, but the overall decade was only 62.2 per cent.
Lest anyone think that Alabama “is living in the past”:
Saban has the Crimson Tide as unquestionably the most dominant program in the nation in the current decade. Six years in, the Tide has three national championships (2011, 2012, and 2015) and a record of 72-10, a winning percentage of .878.
Doesn’t Saban talk about wanting his team to dominate the opponent?
There is no reason to expect any letup.