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Friday, January 23, 2009
Prestige Rankings: '50s, '60s and '70s

By Chris Fallica, Nick Loucks and Harold Shelton
ESPN Research

Who is No. 1? That debate rages weekly during each college football season, and often long after the season is over and the trophies have been handed out. The debate is as much a part of the annual ritual as the touchdowns, fight songs and bowl games.

If you think that process can spark a debate, try ranking each Football Bowl Subdivision team's all-time position in college football history.

But the ESPN Research Department devised a plan to settle the argument. Its system lets the numbers do the talking.

ESPN's Prestige Rankings are a numerical method of ranking the best FBS programs since the 1936 season. Point values were assigned for certain successes (win a national title, earn 25 points) and failures (get your program banned from the postseason, lose two points). The research department ran all the numbers through the computer to come up with the No. 1 program (and Nos. 2 to 119) of the past 73 seasons.

ESPN.com will be rolling out the rankings all week. Here's a look at the rankings during the 1950s--1960s and 1970s:

Chris Fallica, Nick Loucks and Harold Shelton are researchers at ESPN.