There are really only a handful of programs in "big time" college ball that deserve the title of "elite" or "tier 1." I have composed a small list of these programs. Now some of the schools have had some bad seasons of late but the list is based more on prestige and historical success than anything recent. These programs have stood the test of time.
USC: The Trojans have become somewhat of a joke in recent years but the program will be back. They should probably make a quick coaching change though. Almost anyone would do.
Notre Dame: As above. The Irish' current coach has some character issues but he is a proven winner.
Texas: Always a school to consider when discussing the elite of the game.
Penn State: It may or may not be time for Paterno to go but it is unarguable that he has made this a tier one program.
Ohio State: Always a contender.
Michigan: Down for the past few years but a top program none the less.
Oklahoma: Always considered a top program
UCLA: It has been a long long time since this program made any noise nationally but it is still considered a destination school for top athletes.
Florida: Goes without saying.
Alabama: Of course.
Nebraska: No doubt.
There are some schools that are on the cusp, if you will, but just not quite there yet. Good programs but, thus far, don't quite have the long term history of success to be in tier one.
Florida State: Just a few more top seasons would have propelled them into the tier one category.
Miami (FL): They certainly were on their way but got sidetracked somehow.
LSU: Pretty close to tier one but just not quite there yet.
Boise State: Excellent program of late but has not stood the test of time. Perhaps even a little "faddish" to be seriously considered.
TCU: A lot of storied history here, but does not have the long term success.
West Virginia: Could have been in tier one with just a few more top seasons.
Tennessee: Close but no cigar
I would put this group of programs at the top of tier two.
The list really has little to do with recent won/loss records and a good bit more to do with the "prestige" and history of the respective programs.