Cal Football: Which Programs Have Been the Best Nationally the Past Decade?

Jeff Faraudo

OK, Cal fans, I’ll start by confirmed the Golden Bears aren’t found anywhere on this list.

Maybe again someday, but not now.

The Sporting News has ranked the top-25 college football programs of the past 10 seasons, during which time Cal has a combined record of 54-70, with six losing seasons, not one with more than eight victories and, needless to say, no Pac-12 championships.

The teams sitting atop The Sporting News list won’t surprise you: Alabama is No. 1, Clemson is No. 2 and Ohio State is No. 3.

Your grandmother could have come up with those three.

But TSN’s rankings aren’t subjective. They are based on the following point system:

National championships: 10 points each

National title game appearances: 5 points each

College Football Playoff appearances: 5 points each

New Year's Day Six/BCS bowl appearances: 3 points each

Heisman Trophy winners: 2 points each

Using those metrics, Alabama wound up with 166 points, fairly easily outdistancing Clemson which totaled 122 points.

Cal scores zero based on that system.

But the Pac-12 is represented by four teams, led by Oregon, which is ranked No. 7 with 42 points. Here’s what TSN had to say about the Ducks:

Oregon lowdown: There is a significant drop-off from the top six, but the Ducks have a program that is inching closer to the big table under coach Mario Cristobal. Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich took Oregon to national championship game appearances in 2010 and 2014, and despite the coaching turnover since the program has re-asserted itself as the team to beat in the Pac-12.

Next up among Pac-12 schools at No. 11 is Stanford:

Stanford lowdown: The decade started with a 12-1 season under Jim Harbaugh, and David Shaw has for the most part maintained that consistency at Stanford. The Cardinal have won three Pac-12 championships, but the competition in the division is a little more heated now. Shaw has work to do to preserve this ranking.

Next at No. 18 is Washington:

Washington lowdown: The Huskies have appeared in the College Football Playoff and two New Year’s Day Six bowls under Chris Petersen, who vaulted the up-and-down program into a Pac-12 North power. Peterson retired, however, and now that responsibility falls on first-year coach Jimmy Lake.

One rung lower at No. 19 is USC:

USC lowdown: Through all the coaching turnover and administrative upheaval, the Trojans have been able to produce enough NFL talent to stay relevant in the Pac-12. Clay Helton led back-to-back New Year's day Six bowl appearances before the past two seasons — which have been rough. He has stabilized the recruiting, but it's winning time in Troy. Can Helton handle that?

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