Earlier this week, a tweet popped up on the Twitter timeline that sparked some debate in the office.

The Wolfpack have been good under Dave Doeren, but good enough to be “North Carolina’s football team” is a bold claim. After all, the state boasts UNC, Duke, Appalachian State, Wake Forest, East Carolina as competitors to that claim as well (sorry, UNC-Charlotte).

There is only one metric that can be used to determine which program is the cream of the crop in the state: wins. Big football facilities and fancy uniforms are great, but wins on the field keep coaches employed and fans in seats.

So which college program has been most successful on the gridiron?

Wins since 2008:

  1. App State – 89
  2. UNC – 74
  3. NC State – 69
  4. East Carolina – 66
  5. Duke – 59
  6. Wake Forest – 52

Since 2008 (10 seasons ago), App State has been the most successful program in the state. Granted, the Mountaineers were an FCS powerhouse for a long time before moving to FBS in 2014 and currently play in the Sun Belt conference, as compared to the ACC like UNC, Duke and State.

But even if we modify this to account for wins since 2014, the Mountaineers still come out on top.

Wins since 2014:

  1. App State – 37
  2. NC State – 31
  3. UNC – 28
  4. Duke – 28
  5. Wake Forest – 21
  6. East Carolina – 19

Even after transitioning to FBS, App State enjoyed double-digit win seasons in 2015 and 2016 before earning a share of the Sun Belt title this past season. Carolina enjoyed a brief period of success in 2015, earning a berth in the ACC title game and nearly knocking off Clemson, before plummeting to a 3-9 season in 2017.

But McKay is not totally wrong in his statement. There is one metric that NC State comes out on top in: bowl wins.

Bowl Appearances/Wins since 2008:

  • NC State – 8 appearances, 5 wins
  • UNC – 8 appearances, 2 wins
  • Duke – 5 appearances, 2 wins
  • East Carolina – 5 appearances, 1 win
  • App State – 3 appearances, 3 wins
  • Wake Forest – 3 appearances, 2 wins

While NC State is not the leader in total wins, the Wolfpack have enjoyed success in bowl season since 2008. Carolina is currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak in bowl games, with its last bowl win coming in 2013. So far, the Mountaineers are a perfect 3/3 in bowl games during the team’s short FBS career.

So while NC State has been a successful football program over the past decade, calling it “North Carolina’s football team” is a little premature. The Wolfpack could certainly make a run for that title if it enjoys another successful season with Ryan Finley at quarterback, but App State has more of a claim as the state’s premier football program at the current moment.