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Elite Enough?

I studied philosophy in college, and I remember when first encountering Aristotle, that he spent the better half of a book dividing the forms of speech into two different camps so that he could then define the 10 ways that all that exists could be categorized.  (This has got to be the beauty of blogging, right?  Who says football and philosophy can't be mixed?) I was reminded of this reading through some of the comments over the last couple of days.  Aristotle's original labor dealt with what he felt was necessary to prove a proposition true or false.

Our proposition:  Elite college football programs are in the Final Top 10 rankings each year.

At this point, I am going to abandon Aristotle, because I am quite sure we would all find it boring to put this proposition to the test with the Ten Categories.  But what we can do, what is easier, and probably more instructive with regard to this inquiry, is to take a look at a chart!

More after the jump. 

The following was compiled using the final USA Today polls since the BCS began in 1998.

Number of Top 10 Finishes



Ohio St., USC, Oklahoma


Virginia Tech, Texas, Georgia


Florida, Michigan, LSU


Florida St., Kansas St., Alabama, Iowa, Miami


Tennessee, Nebraska, Oregon, Penn St., WVU, TCU


Auburn, Washington St., Utah, Louisville, Boise St.


Arizona, Tulane, UCLA, Air Force, Michigan St., Marshall, Washington, Oregon St., Colorado, Maryland, California, Missouri, Kansas, Cincinnati

This may boil down to how one defines "elite," but regardless, our proposition is already shot.  Not one school made the Top 10 every year, and only three have done better than 50 percent in the 12-year existence of the BCS.  In fact, if you add together every school that has had three Top 10 finishes or more since 1998, you are only talking about 20 schools, and WVU is one of them.  Looking at this data, I would argue that a reasonable expectation for "elite" status is getting into the Top 10 at least once every four years.

Take a look at the names of the schools with three or more Top 10s in this time frame.  All of them, with the possible exceptions of Kansas State and TCU, have outstanding facilities, intense fan-bases, and some well-heeled donors.  (I don't mean to besmirch K-State or the Horned Frogs...I just don't know about their facilities.)  I have said before, and will say again now, WVU is never more than three years and the right coach away from a run at the Big Prize.  So, I don't think anyone should be panicking...regardless of how we feel the last three years should have gone.

Stewart clearly lost a great chance this year to hit the average and net a Top 10 finish.  A single touchdown more in each of our losses and maybe it is a top five finish.  It figures to be much harder for him to provide what so many of us will require next year, and that means another proposition may be proved false next season: Bill Stewart can win a National Championship at WVU.