Friday, April 24, 2009

Who's the boss?

Over the past seven years, there's no debate that USC has been the most dominant team in the country. From top-10 finishes to BCS wins to conference titles to recruiting, it's been an all-around ass-kicking.

But the gap between the Trojans and the rest of the college football world is closing fast ... or has it already closed? A thought popped into my head the other day: Which team has actually been better in the past three years, Florida or USC? Is Pete Carroll still running THE elite program in the country?

"Better" is obviously a somewhat objective term, but it'd be hard to argue against Florida. With two national titles in that time (compared with zero for USC) and 35 wins (compared with 34 for USC), the only case you could make for the men of Troy is consistency -- USC hasn't finished outside the top five since 2002, and their average final ranking in the past three years is 3 (compared with 5.5 for Florida, which is skewed by the 9-4 season in between national titles).

One of the primary reasons for that consistency is recruiting, as USC seemingly gets whatever players it wants in greater quantities than anybody ... right?
  • USC -- 12 five-stars, 34 four-stars (based on Rivals' rankings from the past three seasons)
  • Florida -- 11 five-stars, 37 four-stars
Eh, not really. Florida has pulled in about the same amount of blue-chip talent, and if we're talking about who's really done the best job of recruiting, think about this: In only two years at Alabama, Nick Saban has accumulated a phenomenal 40 four-star or five-star players, 10 more than USC in that time and 12 more than Florida. And fresh off a BCS appearance, it seems doubtful that those numbers will drop off much in the near future, meaning another SEC juggernaut is looming on the horizon.

But here's the thing USC has going for it: In a relatively weak Pac-10, a BCS appearance is essentially a given. And with the hype Carroll has built around the school and the already-established tradition, it will continue to be a power until some other coach comes along and screws things up -- it's too hard not to be good at USC.

But in terms of overall dominance, don't forget about Florida and what Meyer has done there. He's turned it back into the powerhouse Steve Spurrier built -- albeit in a MUCH different manner -- and should be given credit for having a program that is just as good as (or better than) USC right now in nearly every aspect.

No comments: