Oklahoma football: Are Sooners worthy of place on Mt. Rushmore of college football?

circa 1960: Mount Rushmore in Dakota where four presidents' faces have been sculptured out of the rocks, known as the Shrine Of Democracy. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
circa 1960: Mount Rushmore in Dakota where four presidents' faces have been sculptured out of the rocks, known as the Shrine Of Democracy. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images) /

The coming season marks the 125th in the history of Oklahoma football, and the college game itself will celebrate 150 years of history this fall.

That is a historic timeline that outdates every Sooner fan alive today and everyone reading this article. Many extraordinary teams and individual players and coaches have graced the 150-year history of college football.

If you arrived on Earth just 10 years ago, you would be hard pressed not to crown Alabama as the face of college football and perhaps the greatest team of all time. That’s what a blinder’s view of history will do for you: What have you done for me lately?

It’s relatively easy to single out the Crimson Tide as the best team of the current decade and probably several others, as well. After all Alabama won three national championships in the 1960s and three more in the 1970s.

The Mount Rushmore of college football

But what if the task was much broader than that? What if you were commissioned to develop a Mount Rushmore-like national monument dedicated to college football and there was only enough room to recognize four college programs — the four schools that have stood out the most and made the greatest impact all-time on the game of college football.

What criteria would you use to identify the potential candidates and work through a selection process: all-time wins, conference crowns, national championship appearances, national championship titles, No. 1 rankings, Heisman Trophy winners? Probably all of the above and then some.

If it was all about wins, Michigan (953 since 1859) would jump to the front of the list. Ohio State, Texas and Alabama would also be up there, but would need three or four more season to catch the Wolverines.

If you look solely at national championships, Alabama tops the list with 13 recognized national titles; Notre Dame has seven, Ohio State six. Michigan owns 42 conference championships, Ohio State checks in with 40.  Ohio State and Notre Dame each have won seven Heismans

The case for Oklahoma

Oklahoma features prominently in each of the aforementioned categories. But is that enough to get them sculpted in stone.

OU started playing football in 1895, five years after the school was founded and 12 years before it became a state. The Sooners rise to national prominence in football, however, did not really come about until after World War II in the Bud Wilkinson era.

The Sooners were one among many on the college landscape for their first 53 years. They won seven conference titles prior to 1947, but did not make their first postseason bowl appearance until the 1939 Orange Bowl (outside of the Rose Bowl, the major New Year’s bowls did not come into existence until the 1930s).

Oklahoma Sooners Football
Oklahoma Sooners Football /

Oklahoma Sooners Football

Oklahoma may have been somewhat of a late bloomer in terms of its rise to powerhouse status among the college football blue bloods, but beginning in the 1950s, the Sooners loudly made their presence known with a grand leap to the college football national spotlight.

Except for a string of highly disappointing football seasons in the 1990s, the Sooners have not been out of the national spotlight. For the past seven decades, Oklahoma has been one of most recognized programs in college football.

As we’ve noted in several recent articles, no team has scored more points than the Sooners (35,793) in the history of college football. Oklahoma’s 884 wins ranks seventh all-time, but the team’s 652 wins since 1946 is No. 1 in the nation by a sizeable margin. Alabama is the next closest with 609, followed by Ohio State (608).

The Sooners have seven national championships, tied for the third most among Football Bowl Championship teams, and 48 conference championships (41 since 1947), including four consecutive Big 12 titles and 12 in the 23-history of the conference. The 48 conference titles are the most among Power Five teams. Oklahoma’s seven Heisman Trophy winners is tied with Notre Dame and Ohio State for the most by any school.

It’s also pertinent to note that the Sooners own the longest college football winning streak at 47 games (1953-57), an NCAA record that’s not likely to be broken.

If that’s not enough to make a strong case for OU’s inclusion among the four biggest names in college football’s illustrious history, compelling in 2016 the Associated Press came out with an All-time College Football Top 100. The Sooners were ranked No. 2 behind Ohio State. Notre Dame was No. 3.

No college team has been ranked in the top five in the 83 years of the Associated Press Top 25 Poll than Oklahoma.

Which schools should represent the face of college football on its 150th anniversary?

So, who’s in and who’s not in our fantasized Mount Rushmore of college football supremacy?

Here are the teams, in no particular order, that I believe have best cast their legacy as the four greatest programs in the 150-year history of the sport:

Ohio State


Notre Dame


Honorable mention: Michigan, Nebraska, Texas

Construction is set to commence at some undetermined future date.

Information for this article was sourced, in large part, from the 2019 Oklahoma Football Media Guide.