The Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes have all fallen out of college football’s ruling class, according to The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel.
Mandel has been dividing major programs into tiers every five years, starting in 2007. The subjective tiers are based on on-field performance and which brands “carry the most national cachet.” And Florida’s Big Three no longer rank at the top.
All three programs have fallen from the “king” tier (with the likes of Georgia, Clemson, Ohio State, Texas and USC) to the next tier, “baron.” Penn State made the same drop. Though Mandel didn’t rank them one by one, he had nine programs listed as king and one (Alabama) as emperor. That means that no team from the state is considered a top-10 program. Instead, the Gators, Hurricanes and Seminoles are in the same bunch with Auburn, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Oregon and Iowa, among others.
Mandel writes: As a child of the 1980s and early 1990s, it’s surreal to see all three Florida powers now relegated to second-tier status. But I’m arguably five years behind on Miami. Florida was on top of the sport as recently as 2008, but Alabama, LSU and Georgia have long since stolen the Gators’ SEC thunder. And Florida State, less than a decade removed from its most recent national championship, has sullied its brand immensely in recent years. TV viewers don’t even tune in to see the train wreck the way they do Texas or USC.
Is that harsh? Maybe a little. But it’s not wrong.
Since Mandel last updated his list, Florida has ousted two coaches and had two losing seasons. The Gators’ brand remains strong, but three consecutive coaches failed to last four full seasons, and all three had at least one year with a losing record. I can rationalize keeping UF as a king, but a drop is justifiable, too.
Miami has finished unranked in three of the last five seasons and has moved even farther away from its last top-10 season (2003). Though I think the Hurricanes have the brightest short-term future of the three, it makes sense to move them into a lower tier.
The Seminoles have the most recent national title (2013) of the trio. But since Mandel’s last update, FSU hasn’t finished better than 7-6. The national perception of FSU as a program is worse than the other two because of how deep the failures have been plus the financial problems and out-of-date facilities. This slide, too, is defensible.
It is, as Mandel wrote, surreal to see Florida’s Big Three relegated to next-best status. But given how much the Gators, Seminoles and Hurricanes have all struggled recently, it’s hard to argue that any of them remain among the sport’s current royals.
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