While discussing college football recently with one of my friends, we got to reminiscing about Florida State football in our middle and high school years. As ACC fans, we remembered how dominant the 'Noles were when they joined the ACC. Always the curious sort, I decided to see just how dominant those teams were relative to other conference dynasties in college football history. I examined every 'big-time' college football conference since 1970 (an arbitrary cut off point) and looked for similar domination of conference opponents. The big time conferences I considered are the current 6 BCS conferences plus the old Big 8 and Southwest Conferences. The variables I examined were conference record, conference games decided by single digits, and conference wins by more than 30 points (another arbitrary figure). Here's Florida State's resume.
From 1993-2000, a span of 8 seasons, Florida State won our shared all 8 conference championships.
Conference Record: 62-2 .969
Games decided by <10 points: 6 (5-1 record) (9.4%)
Wins of more than 30 points: 36 (56.3%)
That's a pretty impressive run. Even more so than I remembered. About every year and a half, some ACC foe would play Florida State close. Amazingly, a majority of their conference games resulted in wins by more than 30 points.
In my sojourn through recent college football history I found 5 teams with comparable credentials to Florida State. Here they are in alphabetical order.
Accomplishments: In 11 seasons, won or shared 9 conference titles (exceptions were 1976 and 1980).
Conference Record: 71-4 .947
Games decided by <10 points: 12 (9-3 record) (16%)
Wins of more than 30 points: 19 (25.3%)
Care to hazard a guess who the Crimson Tide coach was during this time? The run is a little longer than Florida State's but is broken up by the missed titles in 1976 (when the Tide lost gasp...2 conference games) and 1980. Alabama didn't have as many 30 point wins as Florida State, but that probably has something to do with the era (more grind it out running and less passing in the 1970's).
Accomplishments: In 8 seasons, won or shared 7 conference titles (except 1975).
Conference Record: 57-6-1 .898
Games Decided by <10 points: 17 (11-5-1 record) (26.6%)
Wins of more than 30 points: 23 (35.9%)
Another dynasty, another legendary coach. The only downside to Michigan's run is that they only had one unblemished conference season (8-0 in 1971). They went 7-1 every other year with the exception of 1973 when they finished (7-0-1).
Accomplishments: In 7 seasons, won or shared 6 conference titles (and were upset in the Big XII Championship Game in 1996).
Conference Record: 49-1-1 .971 (excluding conference title games) 50-2-1 .953 (including conference title games)
Games decided by <10 points: 8 (7-1 record) (15.1%)
Wins of more than 30 points: 25 (47.2%)
If not for the Big XII Championship Game loss to Texas in 1996, this run would be even more impressive as it could have included 4 straight national titles.
Accomplishments: In 9 seasons, won or shared 8 conference titles (1972 was the lone exception).
Conference Record: 58-5 .921, if we include the 1978 Orange Bowl with conference foe Nebraska it jumps to 59-5 .922
Games decided by <10 points: 14 (11-3 record) (21.9%)
Wins of more than 30 points: 20 (31.3%)
The Sooners played their fair share of close games in the old Big 8 conference, but also won 2 national championships during the run.
Accomplishments: In 8 seasons, won or shared 6 conference titles (1974 and 1976 were the exceptions).
Conference Record: 50-8 .862
Games decided by <10 points: 9 (8-1 record) (15.5%)
Wins of more than 30 points: 14 (24.1%)
The 'Horns had a little hiccup in 1976 finishing 4-4, but if we extend the study a little farther back in time (Texas won the Southwest Conference in both 1968 and 1969) and exchange those years for the last two (1976 and 1977), Texas' numbers improve substantially.
Conference Record: 51-5 .911
Games decided by <10 points: 8 (7-1 record) (14.3%)
Wins of more than 30 points: 19 (33.9%)
It'd be a futile exercise to try and rank these conference dynasties because of the changes in the college game, but I would have to say Florida State's run is not as impressive as it seems. With the exception of Mack Brown's last two North Carolina teams, there were no other real elite teams in the ACC. How would you rank these dynasties?