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Top 10 Best College Athletic Programs in the U.S.

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Q.V. Hough

These NCAA institutions are the place to be for student-athletes. From University of Oklahoma, to Ohio State University, to Stanford, these colleges offer the best of the best athletics in the land of the free. WatchMojo counts down ten best college athletic programs in the U.S.

Special thanks to our user trtwatchmojo for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Best+College+Athletics+Programs+in+the+US.

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Script written by Q.V. Hough

Top 10 Best College Athletic Programs in the U.S.


These NCAA institutions are the place to be for student-athletes. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best College Athletic Programs in the U.S.

For this list, we’re focusing on the most prominent athletic programs of American college sports.

#10: University of Oklahoma


Established in 1890, this Big 12 program is known primarily for its college football success. The Sooners won seven national championships between 1950 and 2000, and they’ve produced iconic NFL stars like Troy Aikman and Adrian Peterson, along with numerous Heisman Trophy winners. While the basketball team has never won a National title, they consistently appear in the Sweet 16, with their most famous alumni being Blake Griffin. Oklahoma also features top-notch wrestling and gymnastic programs, both of which have won nearly 20 national championships combined.


#9: Ohio State University


Located in Columbus, Ohio, this Big 10 program is synonymous with Olympic success. Many Buckeye athletes, including the iconic Jesse Owens, have won over 100 Olympic medals, and they’ve also won national championships in football, baseball and men’s basketball – a rare feat that only a select group of universities have accomplished. In the 21st century, Ohio State has dominated Big Ten football and they’ve won eight national championships since 1942. Ohio State is a breeding ground for professional athletes, including Archie Griffin, who remains the only college football player to win two Heisman trophies.


#8: University of Southern California


Aside from its glamorous location, this Pac 12 school is attractive for students because of its athletic legacy. Collectively, its athletes have more Olympic gold medals than some entire countries, while the Trojans have claimed over 120 national championships. These days, USC is mostly known for its football program, which has produced seven Heisman winners and produced more NFL draftees than any other school. The “Women of Troy” have also strengthened the program, as they’re responsible for national titles in tennis, water polo, golf, basketball, swimming, volleyball and soccer, too.


#7: Louisiana State University


Based in Baton Rogue, here’s an SEC program with a long history of winning in numerous sports. The Tigers are always a top contender in college football and have won two national titles in the 21st century alone. But LSU is perhaps best known for its track and field program, both indoors and outdoors, as the Tigers and Lady Tigers track teams have won over 30 national titles combined. Meanwhile, the baseball squad has won six titles since the early 90s.


#6: University of Texas at Austin


Established in 1883, this Big 12 school actually has its own one-of-a-kind sports network. The Longhorns have 18 varsity teams, with the most influential being the football program. Aside from the University of Michigan, no other team has won more college football games than the orange and white, and they are still one of the most feared programs of the 21st century. Overall, the men and women athletes of the University of Texas have won national titles in numerous sports, including baseball, swimming, track and field, and volleyball.


#5: Stanford University


For many, this California school is all about education. But for die-hard college sports fans, the Cardinal are known as a perennial powerhouse of PAC-12 athletics. Year after year, Stanford competes for conference titles. During the World War II era, the university was known for its golf program, but in recent years, the athletic program is known for baseball, soccer and certainly – if not especially – tennis – programs that have produced a plethora of NCAA championships. At Stanford, you can expect to compete, and win, at the highest level of college sports.


#4: University of Notre Dame


If you’ve even seen the movie “Rudy,” then you know that some athletes will risk everything to play football for Notre Dame. Every year, the Fighting Irish play top-ranked teams on the gridiron, but they’re also a top destination for other sports as well. In recent years, Notre Dame has won numerous NCAA titles in Co-Ed Fencing, and they’ve also established a championship legacy in women’s soccer. Given the school’s educational prestige and a history dating back to 1842, student-athletes can expect nothing but the best at Notre Dame, along with a chance to compete against world-class athletes year after year.


#3: University of Alabama


Roll Tide. Roll Tide. Roll Tide. Chances are you’ve heard this Crimson Tide slogan, certainly if you pay attention to SEC college football. Since 1925, Alabama has won 16 national championships, making them an elite program for nearly a century. Alabama has also established themselves with men’s golf, winning consecutive national titles in both 2013 and 2014. For women’s athletics, student-athletes have long been at the forefront of team gymnastics, perhaps the school’s most underrated program. Football is what keeps Tuscaloosa in the news, though, as Bear Bryant’s legacy has been firmly established on campus and beyond.


#2: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Let’s say this: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a rich basketball legacy, and they’re also one of America’s oldest universities. For college athletics, the Tar Heels have won national titles in seven sports, including over 20 in Women’s Soccer. UNC has also built an elite Lacrosse program in recent years for both women AND men, not to mention a world class field hockey program. Even acknowledging the iconic alum that is Michael Jordan, it's not all about basketball at UNC, although North Carolina does indeed have one of the NCAA’s most prestigious basketball programs.


Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

University of California, Los Angeles


Florida State University


Duke University


#1: University of Florida


Located in Gainesville, this SEC school’s athletic programs have a lot to offer, whether you’re interested in college football, women’s tennis, men’s golf or women’s gymnastics – all of these Gator teams are known for their NCAA championship legacy. While some programs are consistent and well respected, Florida has been ranked as a Top 10 all-sports university over 30 times, at least according to the NACDA. Millennials may recognize Tim Tebow as the face of Gator athletics, but their championship pedigree has been established across numerous sports. The Florida Gators are simply the most interesting program in college athletics.
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