So the 2009 college football season is over, marking the end of another great decade for the sport. This decade we saw the return of Miami and USC to prominence, and watched as the sport grew bigger than ever before. Alabama, LSU, USC, Miami, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, and Ohio State all won national championships, but which program was the best? Who was the best coach? What was the best team? Who were the best players?
Here's my personal opinions on all those questions.
Program of the decade?
You can pretty much break this decade down into three acts:
ACT 1 was all about the U. Miami went to the national title game in 2001 and 2002, and went 11-1 in 2000. In that three year run Miami won only one national championship.
ACT 2 begin in 2003 when USC began their three year run which included national title games in 2004 and 2005, as well as a split national championship with LSU in 2003. USC exited the middle of the decade with two national championships.
ACT 3 was all about Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow, and the Florida Gators. In 2006 the Gators won the national championship, in 2008 the Gators won the national championship again, and in 2009 the Gators lost only one game; to the eventual champion Alabama Tide.
So which of those three deserve to be considered the program of the decade? It has to be USC, who unlike Miami and Florida were BCS contenders every year from 2002 to 2009.
Team of the Decade?
Well here's a no brainer. Despite having a decade that featured such all time great teams such as the 2004 USC Trojans, the 2005 Texas Longhorns, the 2009 Alabama Crimson Tide, the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes, and the 2000 Oklahoma Sooners, only one team stands out as a potential "all time greatest" team;
The 2001 Miami Hurricanes played only one close game all season and spanked five ranked opponents en route to a 12-0 record. Starters on the 2001 Hurricanes included Clinton Portis, Jeremy Shockey, Andre Johnson, Bryant McKinnie, Najeh Davenport, William Joseph, D.J Williams, Jonathan Vilma, Phillip Buchanan, and Ed Reed. Other key players on the team included Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, Sean Taylor, Kellen Winslow Jr, Vince Wilfork, and Antrel Rolle.
Player of the Decade?
This one should be tough because there were so many great college players this decade; Matt Leinart, Vince Young, Reggie Bush, Drew Brees, Eric Crouch, Larry Johnson, Troy Smith, Brady Quinn, and Ndamakong Suh could all have a great case made for their candidacy.
But lets be honest, this was Tim Tebow's decade. All Tim Tebow did in four years of college football was win two national titles, a Heisman trophy, and break pretty much every record known to NCAA.
Tebow finished his collegiate career with a perfect record in bowl games, became arguably the most well known college football player ever, helped resurrect the Florida Gators program post-Spurrier, and in doing so became arguably the greatest college football player of all time.
Offensive Player of the Decade?
This is a little different that best player overall. Tim Tebow made the Florida Gators team great, but Reggie Bush made the USC offense something really special.
Forget about what his career is like as a pro, Reggie Bush was as electric as any college football player ever could be. He was Marshall Faulk, Eric Dickerson, and Barry Sanders rolled into one at the college level, and he broke the seemingly never ending streak of quarterbacks winning the Heisman.
Defesnive Player of the Decade?
Paul Posluszny won the Bednarik Award twice, Dan Morgan and Julius Peppers were great, AJ Hawk and Rey Maualuga were explosive, but none of these players were Ndamakong Suh.
In 2009 at Nebraska, Suh became the NCAA equivalent of that cult television show that just keeps growing and growing until it becomes the biggest thing in the world. As early as week 3 there were people calling for his Heisman candidacy, and after a dominating performance against the Texas Longhorns, Suh actually became a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
Coach of the Decade?
Let's not get cute here. Pete Carroll won the most, Urban Meyer won the same amount of championships and also made Utah relevent, but this decade was all about Nick Saban.
Not only did Nick Saban win at LSU, helping the program win multiple SEC titles as well as a national championship, he then did the same thing at Alabama. Not to mention, in the time he was gone from LSU, they won a national title with his recruits. LSU haven't been the same since those recruits graduated, and Alabama are gearing up for a potential back to back title run. To dominate the SEC the way Nick Saban has, you can't give it to anyone else.
Conference of the Decade?
The SEC, end of story. They won five national championships this decade, and have had more BCS teams than any other conference. There's not even a debate to be had here. Sorry Big 10, Big East, and Big 12.
Feat of the Decade?
June Jones turning around both SMU and Hawaii in the same decade is great, but Boise State becoming national contenders is amazing. The Broncos won two BCS games this decade, both times as underdogs, and can potentially play in the national championship game next year if they run the table.
So there you have it, the best of the NCAA decade. If you don't agree with me, let me know.