247Sports shortchanges LSU Football’s success this decade

LSU Football has been one of college football’s most interesting case studies for the last decade. After all, the Tigers have had the greatest team of all-time and also fielded two pitiful on-field products, all in the last three years. LSU has fired two National Championship-winning head coaches during the last 10 years, in addition to posting its first losing season this century. While all of this undoubtedly paints a dark picture of a struggling program, the Tigers had a seat at the table amongst college football’s elite for quite some time. They have been demoted to the kid’s table recently, but rest assured, a return to the upper echelons of the sport is not far off.

Brian Kelly will have this team firing on all cylinders in no time. Regardless, it’s easy to forget about the successes of the past after the last two years. The last 10 years have been kind to LSU for the most part. The Tigers have had some legendary players come through their ranks over the last decade, as well as some extraordinary teams. The 2019 National Champions and the defense of the 2016 squad will go down in history. All of this just goes to show that 247Sports’ recent ranking of the LSU program’s status over the last decade is a bit insulting.

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LSU Football’s success this decade was shortchanged by 247Sports

247Sports writer Brad Crawford released his list of “College football’s 10 best programs of the decade” at the end of last month. To the surprise of nobody, the Tigers found themselves on the list. However, fans of the Baton Rouge school were left a bit puzzled after their team came in at No. 6, behind the likes of Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia and Oklahoma respectively. It must be said that the first four are indisputable. Those college football blue bloods have been wildly successful in recent years, all winning at least one title in the 2010s/20s.

It’s the Sooners’ entry at No. 5 that puzzles most people. Every person measures success differently, which is why most of these lists get a stir out of readers. Thus, in order to truly dispute Oklahoma’s inclusion over the LSU, we’ve got to take a look at how Crawford defines success. Before diving into a brief description about each of his selections, Crawford highlights three key statistics: National Championships, win percentage and NFL Draft selections. We’re going to use these categories to re-rank the No. 5 and No. 6 spots on Crawford’s list.

As I alluded to a few paragraphs ago, the Sooners are the only team inside the top six to not boast a title. They’ve not even appeared in a championship game since 2008 when Tim Tebow’s Florida triumphed over them. On the other hand, LSU claims the 2019 National Championship, a title in which the Tigers trounced the Sooners (63-28) en route to hoisting. Oklahoma does have more conference titles (six) than LSU (one) over the last 10 years, but nowhere in the article does Crawford compare conference success. This would tip the scales heavily in the Sooners’ favor as LSU has to compete with the Alabama dynasty every year for the SEC West alone.

This leads us directly into the next talking point, win percentage. Oklahoma gets the nod in this category, trumping LSU with a winning percentage of .817 to .709. I don’t have the numbers to back this up—nor do I want to spend my time researching them—but I’d be more than willing to bet the Tigers have played more ranked teams than Oklahoma during that span. LSU competes in the SEC, which has simply been more dominant than the likes of the Big 12 over the last decade. The Sooners deserve a ton of credit for those wins as you can only beat who is put in front of you. However, history shows us that OU is largely incapable of winning the biggest games each season against SEC opponents. Nevertheless, the scores are tied at one a piece.

The last category measures the professional talent developed by each school. After all, at the end of the day college football is an “amateur” team sport, so the draft-ready individuals a program produces are more important than many think. Similar to the last comparison, this one isn’t close. LSU blows Oklahoma out of the water in terms of NFL Draft selections with 81 to the Sooners’ 59.

One doesn’t need to look far to see the abundance of talent that has come out of Baton Rouge over the last few seasons alone. The 2022 Super Bowl featured Odell Beckham Jr, Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Thaddeus Moss, and Tyler Shelvin. Another LSU alumni, Andrew Whitworth, also played in the game. However, he played his college ball almost two decades ago, so he’s not included. There are only a couple of teams in the country that produce as much NFL talent as the Tigers—Oklahoma is not one of them. LSU takes two of Crawford’s three categories.

In the end, it’s easy to just put the Sooners ahead of the Tigers because they’ve had unwavering success in the win column over the last decade. The Sooners have consistently been a 10+ win team, only dipping below that threshold twice since 2012. However, it’s ignorant to rank Oklahoma ahead of LSU just because of the recent instability within the Tigers’ program. The question that Crawford needs to be asking himself is: does a slightly higher win percentage (+.108) and a few more conference titles in an easier division justify placing a team ahead of one of the NFL’s biggest feeders, who posted arguably the greatest season of all-time (15-0) en route to a national title back in 2019? I’d venture to say not.

Where do you think the Tigers should be ranked? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!