Alabama is attempting to do what no program has done in the BCS era: win a third national championship and cross the threshold into a dynasty. It has been 15 years since a program last did so. Tom Osborne, dogged for two decades as the coach who couldn't win the big one, led Nebraska to its third big one in four seasons and retired as the Cornhuskers coach.
And now Nick Saban has brought the Crimson Tide to the precipice of matching Nebraska. No. 2 Alabama, with a defeat of No. 1 Notre Dame in the Discover BCS National Championship on Jan. 7, would become the first team to win a third national title since the BCS began in 1999.
That third crystal football is the key that will unlock the door to the pantheon of college football. We have identified eight dynasties that have ruled the sport in the modern era (beginning in 1936 with the Associated Press poll, the most widely accepted measure of a champion in the pre-BCS era). By happy accident, the dynasties spaced themselves apart, arriving at the rate of one per decade until the onset of the BCS.