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Do ag schools go in hand-in-hand with top-notch college football? Statistics seem to indicate so.

John McCurry, Managing Editor

August 31, 2022

2 Min Read
Based on recent history, there is a pretty good chance one or more ag schools will be in this year’s playoffs.David Madison/Getty Images

Labor Day weekend signals the start of college football season. In the South, that’s a sacred weekend, arguably deserving of an official national holiday. There are so many possibilities to capture the imagination. Everyone is undefeated and championship hopes have yet to be dashed.  

I’m a graduate of the University of South Carolina. I wasn’t a big college football fan until I enrolled there. That soon changed, and for me Gamecock football became the focus of every fall weekend. That obsession has grown exponentially over the years. 

I recall during my college years there was a popular bumper sticker that read “Culture vs. Agriculture.” This was an attempt to derisively poke fun at our rival, Clemson University, the state’s primary ag school. Clemson usually had the last laugh because they have often beaten us like a drum over the years and have siloed three national championships since 1981. 

So, this begs the question, is there a correlation between a university having a strong ag school and a powerful football team? The preseason AP Top 25 poll suggests there is. Seven southern and southwestern universities with major agriculture schools — Georgia, Clemson, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, N.C. State, Kentucky and Arkansas—are in the Top 25. So, as the 2022 season begins, 28% of the Top 25 have ag schools.  

Taking the research a step further, since 2010, universities known for their ag programs have won the National Championship five times. Most recently, it was Georgia. LSU won in 2019, Clemson in 2016 and 2018 and Auburn in 2010. Take it back a few more years and you have Florida winning in 2006 and 2008 and LSU in 2007.  

There apparently is no definitive study as to how many agriculture majors are playing major college football. No doubt there are some, but the online sports site Bleacher Report surveyed major universities several years ago and agriculture was not in the top 10 majors of college athletes.  

So, who will be on top when the college football National Championship game is played on Jan. 9 in Los Angeles? I doubt if Georgia repeats. It’s just too hard to put those kinds of years back-to-back. The only team to do so this century was Alabama in 2011 and 2012. Before that, it was Nebraska in 1995 and 1996. Of course, Alabama is Alabama, and will remain a contender at least as long as Nick Saban coaches. Nebraska, however, is no longer among the nation’s elite teams and is missing from this year’s preseason poll. 

My preference, of course is that a team comes out of nowhere—South Carolina, for instance—to win it all this year. But based on recent history, there is a pretty good chance one or more ag schools will be in this year’s playoffs. 

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