An Elite Program is a program that has had an Elite Season (aka Elite Team) once in the past 7 years AND has done any one of the following as well.
- played in the National Championship game within the past 2 years
- played in the NC game and had another elite season in the past 3 years
- won the National Championship twice in the past 5 years
- had an Elite Season 3 times in the past 5 years
- had an Elite Season 4 times in the past 10 years
- had an Elite Season 6 times in the past 20 years
- had an Elite Season 10 times in the past 30 years
Here are the current Programs that fit the above criteria and an be called Elite Programs.
In the BCS/CFP era, the average number of Elite Programs per year is 10.8. 2019’s 14 Elite Programs is tied for the most ever in any one year since 1936. I believe this number is high for two reasons: 1. The CFP has added another game between Elite Teams. With the loser of the first playoff game ending up in the top 5 with an Elite Season, and the winner guaranteed to be an Elite Program the next two years, there is more guaranteed competition on the highest level. 2. We’re probably nearing the end of a cycle. College Football is cyclical, and while it is mathematically and perceptionally possible to have 14 EPs every year, it is almost certainly not going to last. It’s far more likely we’re going to see 4-5 teams dropping out. Speaking of teams dropping out…
Elite Program Expiration Date
Eliteness doesn’t last forever. You don’t see Army, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Michigan on the list anymore. I mentioned above about how 14 Elite Programs is likely not sustainable. A “cycle change” should be expected over the next 5 years. In fact, the 14 EPs is an indicator that it has already began. This is a good segue to the current expiration dates for the Elite Programs. According to my research, this is how many years these programs have to go without an Elite Season to lose their Elite Program status.
- Florida, 1 Year
- Georgia, 1 Year
- Oregon, 2 Years
- LSU, 2 Years
- Michigan State, 2 Years
- Florida State, 3 Years
- Stanford, 3 Years
- Texas, 5 Years
- USC, 5 Years
- Auburn, 6 Years
- Ohio State, 7 Years
- Oklahoma, 7 Years
- Clemson, 7 Years
- Alabama, 7 Years
As you can see, 5 teams can lose EP status if they don’t have an Elite Season in the next 2 years. Two of these programs, Georgia and Florida, will have to do it this year.
This is going to be a huge year for Kirby Smart and Georgia. Right now, Georgia is living off of the forward momentum from the Smart hire and the subsequent NCG appearance in 2017. Their recruiting is top notch right now and they are the biggest threat to Alabama’s #1 spot in the WRC. With missing the playoff and then losing to Texas, last year hasn’t slowed the forward momentum, but it has created doubt in the back of our minds. Eliteness says that we’d be willing to admit that either 2017’s NCG showing or 2018’s defeat to Texas was an aberration and that the results of this season will define what we saw in the previous two. Georgia will be hyped as an Elite Program coming into the season, but will have to deliver to stay that way.
Florida is finally on the chopping block as well. After being an Elite Program since 1992, they have the longest active streak of Elite Program status. As kind as the Spurrier and Meyer eras were to them, the Muschamp and McElwain eras have almost erased that Elite Program perception. Again, college football is cyclical and this could be the official cycle-out that happens to every program at some point. We know Dan Mullen is an excellent coach though and could turn a program, especially with this kind of talent, around in a hurry.
The cyclical nature of CFB is on display with the proximity of these two teams. They play each other every year and are both in the SEC East. They can’t both win their division and play for the SEC title. One of these programs is not going to win their division, and for that reason, likely to lose their EP status in our mind. Mark down November 2nd, 2019, at 3:30, on CBS, if you want to watch these teams play in a game that will be (most likely) to keep their elite perception intact.