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Given the fact that most student-athletes are only eligible to stay on campus for four or five years, it's very difficult to build dynasties in college athletics. To pull it off, a coaching staff needs to consistently recruit elite talent and, more importantly, develop that talent in a short time period. There's also an element of luck - especially in a sport like college football, which is always changing the methodology for how it crowns its champion.
That being said, there is no doubt that what Alabama has accomplished over the past five years is as close to a dynasty as we've seen in quite some time. The Crimson Tide won national championships in 2009, 2011 and 2012 and came very close to having a shot at playing for another in 2013. Nick Saban has done an incredible job building Alabama's program into an annual title contender.
Which schools could be on the cusp of producing college football's next great dynasty? We've taken a look around the country and put together a list of 10 programs that could be the next to rip off multiple national titles in a short time frame.
LSU was one of the most dominant programs of the BCS era, and there's no reason to think that the Tigers won't be a national title contender every season as we move into the College Football Playoff era. According to Rivals, in four of the past five years, LSU has pulled in a recruiting class ranked in the top ten. They're easily one of the five most consistent programs in the nation - both in recruiting and on-field results.
Head coach Les Miles, while a bit quirky, is one of the best in business. His track record of developing high school players into elite talent is well-documented - in fact, in 2014, LSU led all programs in the country with nine NFL draft picks. The school also produced the highest number (13) of running backs drafted into the pros during the BCS era. So it's no surprise that stud freshman tailback Leonard Fournette chose to play his ball in Baton Rouge.
LSU is also aided by the fact that it plays in the toughest division in college football - the SEC West. Yes, it's the most difficult to win on a yearly basis, but the victor is almost always going to wind up playing in the aforementioned playoff. It's going to be a dogfight going up against the likes of Auburn, Alabama and Texas A&M every season, but there's no reason that LSU shouldn't be taken just as seriously.
There was a time, not so long ago, that Baylor was considered the laughingstock of the Big 12. From 1996 to 2009, the Bears suffered 14 straight losing seasons. All of a sudden, however, they're one of the most feared teams in all of college football. How did that happen?
Well, first off, Baylor stuck with head coach Art Briles despite the fact that his first two seasons ended with 4-8 records. The Bears landed Robert Griffin III, who wound up hanging around for four seasons, winning a Heisman Trophy and leading the program to a 10-win season in 2011. Bryce Petty, who backed up Griffin for two years, has since stepped in and continued the team's ridiculous offensive success. In 2013, a year that the Bears won 11 games and played in the Fiesta Bowl, the team led all of FBS in total offense.
Baylor might also have an easier road to the College Football Playoff than other top-tier programs. The Big 12 does not currently have enough teams to host a conference championship game, meaning that winning the league's regular season title outright might be enough to reach the promised land. Plus, a number of other teams in the conference, like Texas, TCU and Kansas State, haven't been competing at a national level over the past few seasons. Oklahoma is going to be Baylor's main competition moving forward.
Earlier this year, we named Georgia's fan base as the most tortured in all of college football. Why? Because the Bulldogs seemingly have everything they need to win national championships. They have the recruits. They have the fans. They have the coaching staff. But for some reason, they often stumble out of the gate by losing a game early in the year and wind up having to play catch-up all season. One of these campaigns, that's not going to happen, and the power structure of the SEC is going to shift from the West to the East.
As we've seen this year, Georgia is as good at developing running backs as any program in the land. Todd Gurley is just the latest in a long line of Bulldogs tailbacks who have dominated opponents. Not surprisingly, UGA has no problem recruiting smash-mouth football players. Head coach Mark Richt, who is considered one of the most high-character in his profession, consistently pulls in top classes. It's all led to eight double-digit win seasons and just one losing campaign in the 21st century.
In 2012, Georgia came just a few yards away from advancing to the national championship game against Notre Dame. If things had ended differently, we might be talking about the Bulldogs going for their second title in three seasons.
7. Penn State
The battle for the Big Ten is slowly turning into an arms race between two teams. One is Ohio State, which not only features a bevy of great recruiters on its coaching staff, but also has one of the best staffs in America when it comes to developing talent. The other is Penn State, now that the sanctions from the Jerry Sandusky scandal have been lifted.
Now, it may seem a bit premature to say the Nittany Lions can - and will - become the type of program that consistently registers double-digit victories and qualifies for upper-echelon bowl games. But going off of the track record of James Franklin's staff, coupled with the allure of playing for a program with the rich tradition of Penn State, it's not crazy to think the Nittany Lions can become the elite team in the Big Ten in the near future.
Christian Hackenberg could very well be the best pure passer in college football. There is young talent all over the field. The team's 2015 recruiting class is loaded. Sure, there are questions about the program's depth, but those should be answered in a year or two now that the school can use its full compliment of scholarships. Simply put - if Penn State can continue to recruit well in the Northeast, there is no reason it can't supplant Ohio State as the class of the Big Ten.
6. Texas A&M
Is there a cooler program in college football right now than Texas A&M? Its offense is explosive. Its defense is aggressive -- not necessarily great, but aggressive. Its facilities are likely the best in America. Its coaching staff is fantastic. Its stadium is massive. Its fans are insane. Basically, everything that top-end recruits would find appealing, you can find in College Station, Texas.
Kevin Sumlin has built an incredible program at Texas A&M. Since becoming the Aggies' head coach in 2012, Sumlin has posted a 23-6 record with an 11-6 mark in the SEC. But most importantly, he's made A&M perhaps the most entertaining team in the country. And somehow, he's actually increased the hype around his program since former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel left for the NFL.
Texas A&M's issue, at least over the past few seasons, has been defense. The Aggies allowed more than 32 points per game in 2013. But, hope is on the way. The school's 2015 recruiting class is stacked with defensive talent - the 2014 version also had a few gems. If they can get things set on that side of the ball, there's no reason that they can't be contending for a national championship every season.
As long as the Sooners are coached by Bob Stoops, they will have a serious advantage over just about every other team in the sport. Stoops and his staff recruit extremely well, and more importantly, develop players into superstars. The team usually shows up in big games, and of course, always competes for the title in the Big 12. Since Stoops took over in 1999, Oklahoma has posted a record of 162-39, taken home the Big 12 trophy eight times, and won double-digit games a dozen times.
Last year's Oklahoma team, despite not being crowned the Big 12 champion, crushed Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and put the entire nation on notice ahead of the 2014 season. There are many who believe that the Sooners, led by star quarterback Trevor Knight, could be the best team in the country right now. If the win their conference, they'll most likely have the chance to prove it.
Texas being down also helps out OU - big time. The two schools often compete for the same recruits, and the Longhorns' misfortunes make an already-stellar program an even easier sell.
If there is a team that best encapsulates what college football has become in the 21st century, it is Oregon. The Ducks run an up-tempo, unique offense and wear the flashiest jerseys in the entire sport. Oregon is probably the nation's strongest program that is without a national championship at the moment, but the Ducks don't seem to be slowing down in their pursuit of one.
Of course, in Eugene, it all starts with Nike. As long as the athletic gear megapower still prints money, a chunk of that will flow to the Oregon program, and will help the Ducks stay ahead of everyone else in the college football facilities arms race that has taken off in the last few years. Oregon is not in a hotbed of high school talent. Instead, the Ducks recruit the perfect players for their system from all across the map, blending talents and skills to weave together the dynamic rosters that have defined the program for the last few decades.
Oregon is no dynasty yet, but it is on the precipice. Mark Helfrich's program certainly seems to be dangerously close to breaking through, and it should always be a player at the end of the year when it comes time to decide the four teams that participate in the College Football Playoff. Right now, Oregon has the best resume for 2014, so the emergence of this dynasty may be sooner than we anticipate.
It's entirely possible that Alabama's current dynasty, which has seen the Crimson Tide win three of the last five national titles, is not over yet. The program still pulls in the top recruiting class seemingly every season, is still coached by four-time champion Nick Saban and still wins double-digit games every season. If Alabama can figure out its quarterback situation this year, there's actually no reason that it can't be in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
That being said, the team did lose two absolutely huge games in 2013. The Crimson Tide's loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl was tough to swallow. The team's loss to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl might have been worse - at least from a competitive point of view. How the program bounces back in 2014 will play a huge role in which direction things head.
As long as Saban is in Tuscaloosa, Alabama is going to be relevant in college football. The question is whether he'll be able to maintain his current, ridiculous level of success.
To many, Auburn's magical 2013 run seemed to be more luck than anything else, but that is not totally fair. Luck doesn't keep a team in a dead heat with Georgia, Alabama, and Florida State, and doesn't blow out a very good Missouri team for an SEC title. Last year's Auburn team was undeniably fortunate, but it was also damn good, and it will only get better as the defensive talent level improves and the mad scientist that is Gus Malzahn continues to draw up plays that baffle even the sharpest minds across the field.
The 2014 season is still very young, but Auburn looks every bit like the conference and national championship contender that it wound up being last year, if not better. The defense shut down a much-improved Arkansas team in the second half of a 45-21 win, while the offense doesn't seem to have missed a beat, piling up 104 points through two games. What's even scarier is that Malzahn doesn't seem to be relying as much on the team's running game, like he did last year. While the rushing offense has still dominated thus far, Auburn is throwing the ball more, and with good efficiency, averaging over 9.5 yards per attempt.
While big brother Alabama has many weapons on offense, it uses them in more standard, familiar ways. Auburn's offense features more creativity and innovation, not unlike Oregon's, although the two schemes aren't terribly similar. If Auburn becomes a more fun, fast-paced alternative to Nick Saban's Alabama, and Malzahn's system keeps opposing defenses off-guard on a weekly basis, this could become a team that is a real contender every year. While we hope the Iron Bowl is always as competitive as it has been in recent years, don't be shocked if Auburn wins these games with regularity, as the gap between it and the hated in-state rival continues to close.
1. Florida State
To be a dynasty, a team needs championships. Well, no one has captured one of those more recently than the Florida State Seminoles. With returning superstars like Jameis Winston and Rashad Greene back in the fold this season, we could very well be experiencing the beginnings of a new college football dynasty. The 2013 Florida State football team was dominant in ways that we haven't seen very often, and as a result, the program is dominating the most recruiting-rich state in the nation, Florida. They also have new facilities, uniforms, and everything else imaginable. No program has more forward momentum right now than Florida State.
If there is a checklist for things that a recruit can look for in a program, Florida State passes every inspection. The 'Noles are national champions, start the reigning Heisman winner at quarterback, had five players drafted in 2014, and play in great weather in front of over 80,000 adoring fans every weekend. Jimbo Fisher has also proven that he can coach. There is no reason why Florida State should slow down; if anything, 2013 could be a launching point for the next great college football program. If any team is poised to unseat Nick Saban's Alabama as the current dynasty in the sport, it is Florida State...
...that is, if it hasn't already.