College football's most influential teams ever: Ranking the top 30


We all have our own opinions regarding the best college football teams of all time. Maybe you're a 2001 Miami person. Maybe you prefer 2005 Texas or 1995 Nebraska, or maybe you'd rather go with another Nebraska vintage, the 1971 version. Maybe you're like Beano Cook, forever spreading the gospel of 1947 Notre Dame. Maybe you were hypnotized by the coolness of Joe Burreaux and 2019 LSU. Maybe you think the best of the Nick Saban Alabama teams -- 2011? 2012? 2020? -- deserves the honors. Maybe you're like me, a 1945 Army hipster.

The greatest teams don't always make the greatest impact on the sport, however. For more than a century, college football's evolution has been driven by teams both big and small and by coaches both massively and only moderately successful.

This list is an attempt to celebrate the influencers -- both the Nick Sabans and the Mouse Davises, both the LSUs and the Gramblings. It is a list of the 30 most influential teams in college football history. You can make this list in a lot of different ways. Maybe you spurred major innovation. Maybe your team came to define the peak of a certain era. Maybe you made an impact both through greatness and cultural or social impact. Maybe you were just cool as hell. Regardless, here are 30 teams that made a particularly indelible mark on the sport.

Jump to: Top 10

30. 1899 Sewanee

Head coach: Billy Suter

Record: 12-0

I can't tell you what kind of tactical brilliance Billy Suter unfurled, and I can't tell you what made captain and future College Football Hall of Famer Ditty Seibels so special. But I (and a million other college football fans) can tell you this: Over the course of six days and 2,500 miles of train rides in November, Suter's iron men played Texas, Texas A&M, Tulane, LSU and Ole Miss. They won those five games by a combined 91-0. A few days after returning home, they crushed Cumberland 71-0.

If we are still talking about your feat 125 years later, you probably did something special.

29. 2010 TCU

Head coach: Gary Patterson

Record: 13-0