During the ND game on Saturday, ESPN used a graphic that showed ND had slipped to #3 in all-time wins, behind U-M and Texas. I had not realized this happened at the end of last season.
Here are the current (up-to-date following 2009 Week 2) rankings for wins and winning percentage. Comments/observations below.
1. MICHIGAN - 874
2. Texas - 834
3. Notre Dame - 832
4. Nebraska - 819
5. Ohio State - 809
6. Penn State - 802
7. Alabama - 801
8. Oklahoma - 792
9. Tennessee - 777
10. Southern Cal - 768
ALL-TIME WINNING PERCENTAGE:
1. MICHIGAN - .740 (874-295-36, 1205 GP)
2. Notre Dame - .736 (832-285-42, 1159 GP)
3. Texas - .718 (834-317-33, 1184 GP)
4. Oklahoma - .716 (792-298-53, 1143 GP)
5. Ohio State - .715 (809-307-53, 1169 GP)
6. Alabama - .709 (801-316-43, 1160 GP)
7. Southern Cal - .707 (768-303-54, 1125 GP)
8. Nebraska - .702 (819-337-40, 1196 GP)
9. Tennessee - .694 (777-328-53, 1158 GP)
10. Penn State - .690 (802-349-42, 1193 GP)
1. In terms of wins, MICHIGAN's got a huge lead over Texas and Notre Dame, followed by another drop-off to schools that have pretty recently cracked 800 wins.
2. In terms of percentage, MICHIGAN and Notre Dame have a tremendous lead.
3. Around the 1200 GP point, a win raises MICHIGAN's percentage by about .0002 (1/5 of a point). A loss drops MICHIGAN's percentage by about .0006 (just over 1/2 of a point); so 2008 was pretty tough on the all-time stats.
4. MICHIGAN's substantial leads in each category I think can be attributed to MICHIGAN's two highly dominant eras as far as number of wins: Yost and Bo. The other schools on those lists have had dominant stretches here and there, but generally only one truly dominant era each.
5. Also, since 1970, MICHIGAN has generally avoided (thus far, fingers crossed) a multi-season dead era of a bad coach or a few bad coaching searches in a row, such as has occurred with every other team on those lists, save for Penn State (though one could argue the late 1990s and early 2000s had the same effect there). 4-5 lousy seasons in a row, or a full decade of mediocrity, really takes a toll on winning percentage.
6. The top ten on each list are the same teams, in slightly different order. So number of wins is generally analogous to winning percentage. Duh. BUT:
7. Just outside of the top ten in percentage, a few precocious upstarts pop up. Florida State sits at #11 with .670 and only 460 wins. Miami (Fla.) is #14 with .634 and only 546 wins. Other than those two notables, the list roughly holds true: more all-time wins roughly equals greater winning percentage. Since the top ten traditional power schools racked up most of their wins and drove their percentages higher in an era with nowhere near the parity we have today or in the past 30 years, I think what Florida State and Miami did in the 1980s and 1990s was pretty darned impressive.
8. Until the late 1990s, MICHIGAN and Notre Dame had each hung around the .745 mark for quite a while, then Notre Dame slipped off, and Michigan followed in 2005-2008.
QUESTIONS AND INVITATION FOR PREDICTIONS:
When will MICHIGAN get to 900 wins?
When will MICHIGAN get back to .745?