As part of its College Football Preview, out today, USA Today looked at the history of all 120 programs in the Bowl Subdivision and picked the “golden era” for each one.
For some schools, that means going way back (Vandy’s heyday was 1926-1930) while Florida is in the midst of its golden era since Urban Meyer arrived, the paper says.
Alabama’s golden era is pegged as 1961-66, when Bear Bryant went 50-4-1 and claimed three national championships. The Bear also accounted for Kentucky’s golden era, 1949-51, when he went 28-8, took the Wildcats to the Orange, Sugar and Cotton bowls and won the 1950 SEC championship.
Auburn’s prime years were 1955-60, USA Today says, when Ralph “Shug” Jordan went 49-10-2, won the 1957 AP national championship and finished fourth in 1958 with a 9-0-1 record. For Tennessee, the paper opts for the years 1938-40, three consecutive unbeaten seasons under Gen. Robert Neyland, instead of the years when UT won national championships (1951 under Neyland and 1998 under Phil Fulmer).
Poor South Carolina’s so-called golden era is 1979-80, when Heisman winner George Rogers led the Gamecocks to consecutive 8-4 seasons and berths in the Hall of Fame and Gator bowls. What a legacy.
As for Georgia Tech, the paper goes with 1951-53, when the Jackets went 17-1-1 and shared a national championship in 1952. What, a 3-point win over the Dogs last year doesn’t qualify as a golden era? That’ll be news to some Tech fans.
Not surprisingly, USA Today’s choice as UGA’s golden era is 1980-83, when Vince Dooley’s Bulldogs were 43-4-1, Herschel Walker won the Heisman and the undefeated 1980 Dogs took the national championship.
It’s hard to argue with that choice, since Wally Butts’ best years in the 1940s during the Sinkwich-Trippi era, including the 1942 consensus national championship and the undefeated 1946 team that one poll ranked at No. 1, were sandwiched around a couple of mediocre war-years seasons.
Certainly, the Mark Richt era, with two SEC titles, six 10-win Top 10 teams and an 82-22 record so far, could be called the Dogs’ “silver” era. Add a national title to that run and even Dooley loyalists likely would concede the golden era designation with no argument.