The Associated Press (AP) College Poll provides weekly rankings of the top 25 NCAA teams in one of three Division I college sports: football, men's basketball and women's basketball. The rankings are compiled by polling sportswriters across the nation. Each voter provides his own ranking of the top 25 teams, and the individual rankings are then combined to produce the national ranking by giving a team 25 points for a first place vote, 24 for a second place vote, and so on down to 1 point for a twenty-fifth place vote. Ballots of the voting members in the AP Poll are made public.[1][dead link]

College footballEdit


The AP college football poll has a long history. The news media began running their own polls of sports writers to determine who was, by popular opinion, the best football team in the country at the end of the season. One of the earliest such polls was the AP College Football Poll, first run in 1934[2][dead link] (compiled and organized by Charles Woodroof, former SEC Assistant Director of Media Relations) and then continuously from 1936.[3][dead link] Due to the long-standing historical ties between individual college football conferences and high-paying bowl games like the Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl, the NCAA has never held a tournament or championship game to determine the champion of what is now the highest division, NCAA Division I, Football Bowl Subdivision (the Division I, Football Championship Subdivision and lower divisions do hold championship tournaments). As a result, the public and the media began to take the leading vote-getter in the final AP Poll as the national champion for that season.

While the AP Poll currently lists the Top 25 teams in the nation, from 1936 to 1961 the wire service only ranked 20 teams. From 1962 to 1967 only 10 teams were recognized. From 1968 to 1988, the AP again resumed its Top 20 before expanding to the current 25 teams in 1989.

At the end of the 1947 season the AP released an unofficial post-bowl poll which differed from the regular season final poll.[4] Until the 1968 college football season, the final AP poll of the season was released following the end of the regular season, with the exception of the 1965 season. In 1964, Alabama was named the national champion in the final AP Poll following the completion of the regular season, but lost in the Orange Bowl to Texas, leaving Arkansas as the only undefeated, untied team after the Razorbacks defeated Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl Classic. In 1965, the AP's decision to wait to crown its champion paid handsomely, as top-ranked Michigan State lost to UCLA in the Rose Bowl, number two Arkansas lost to LSU in the Cotton Bowl Classic, and fourth-ranked Alabama defeated third-ranked Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, vaulting the Crimson Tide to the top of the AP's final poll (Michigan State was named national champion in the final UPI Coaches Poll, which did not conduct a post-bowl poll).

Beginning in the 1968 season, the post bowl game poll became permanent and the AP championship reflected the bowl game results. The UPI did not follow suit with the coaches' poll until the 1974 season.

No. 1 vs. No. 2Edit


As of January 7, 2013, the number one ranked team has faced the number two ranked team 48 times since the inception of the AP Poll in 1936.[5] The number one team is 27-19-2 against the number two team.[5]

No. 1 vs. No. 2 games
Light blue indicates January bowl game
SeasonNo. 1ResultNo. 2SiteEvent
1943 Notre Dame35-12MichiganMichigan StadiumAnn Arbor, MI 1943 Michigan-Notre Dame football rivalry game
Notre Dame14-13Iowa Pre-FlightNotre Dame StadiumNotre Dame, IN
1944Army23-7NavyBaltimore StadiumBaltimore, MD 1944 Army-Navy Game
1945Army48-0Notre DameYankee StadiumNew York, NY 1945 Army-Notre Dame football rivalry game
Navy13-32ArmyPhiladelphia Municipal StadiumPhiladelphia, PA 1945 Army-Navy Game
1946Army0-0Notre DameYankee Stadium • New York, NY 1946 Army vs. Notre Dame football game
1962USC42-37WisconsinRose Bowl StadiumPasadena, CA 1963 Rose Bowl
1963Oklahoma7-28TexasCotton BowlDallas, TX 1963 Red River Rivalry game
Texas28-6NavyCotton Bowl • Dallas, TX 1964 Cotton Bowl
1966Notre Dame10-10Michigan StateSpartan StadiumEast Lansing, MI 1966 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State football game
1968Purdue37-22Notre Dame Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN 1968 Shillelagh Trophy game
Ohio State27-16USCRose Bowl Stadium • Pasadena, CA 1969 Rose Bowl
1969Texas15-14ArkansasRazorback StadiumFayetteville, AR 1969 Texas vs. Arkansas football game
1971Nebraska35-31OklahomaOklahoma Memorial StadiumNorman, OK 1971 Nebraska vs. Oklahoma football game
Nebraska38-6AlabamaMiami Orange BowlMiami, FL 1972 Orange Bowl
1978Penn State7-14AlabamaLouisiana SuperdomeNew Orleans, LA 1979 Sugar Bowl
1981USC28-24OklahomaLos Angeles ColiseumLos Angeles, CA
1982Georgia23-27Penn StateLouisiana Superdome • New Orleans, LA 1983 Sugar Bowl
1985Iowa12-10MichiganKinnick StadiumIowa City, IA
1986Oklahoma16-28MiamiMiami Orange Bowl • Miami, FL
Miami10-14Penn StateSun Devil StadiumTempe, AZ 1987 Fiesta Bowl
1987Oklahoma17-7NebraskaMemorial StadiumLincoln, NE 1987 Nebraska–Oklahoma football rivalry game
Oklahoma14-20MiamiMiami Orange Bowl • Miami, FL 1988 Orange Bowl
1988Notre Dame27-10USCLos Angeles Coliseum • Los Angeles, CA 1988 Jeweled Shillelagh game
1989Notre Dame24-19MichiganMichigan Stadium • Ann Arbor, MI 1989 Michigan–Notre Dame football rivalry game
1991Florida State16-17MiamiDoak Campbell StadiumTallahassee, FL 1991 Miami vs. Florida State football game
1992Miami13-34AlabamaLouisiana Superdome • New Orleans, LA 1993 Sugar Bowl
1993Florida State24-31Notre DameNotre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN 1993 Florida State vs. Notre Dame football game
Florida State18-16NebraskaMiami Orange Bowl • Miami, FL 1994 Orange Bowl
1995Nebraska62-24FloridaSun Devil Stadium • Tempe, AZ 1996 Fiesta Bowl
1996Florida21-24Florida StateDoak Campbell Stadium • Tallahassee, FL 1996 Florida-Florida State football rivalry game
1998Tennessee23-16Florida StateSun Devil Stadium • Tempe, AZ 1999 Fiesta Bowl
1999Florida State46-29Virginia TechLouisiana Superdome • New Orleans, LA 2000 Sugar Bowl
2002Miami24-312OTOhio StateSun Devil Stadium • Tempe, AZ 2003 Fiesta Bowl
2004USC55-19OklahomaPro Player StadiumMiami Gardens, FL 2005 Orange Bowl
2005USC38-41TexasRose Bowl Stadium • Pasadena, CA 2006 Rose Bowl
2006Ohio State24-7TexasDarrell K Royal – Texas Memorial StadiumAustin, TX
Ohio State42-39MichiganOhio StadiumColumbus, OH 2006 Michigan vs. Ohio State football game
Ohio State14-41FloridaUniversity of Phoenix StadiumGlendale, AZ 2007 BCS National Championship Game
2007Ohio State24-38LSULouisiana Superdome • New Orleans 2008 BCS National Championship Game
2008Alabama20-31FloridaGeorgia DomeAtlanta, GA 2008 SEC Championship Game
Florida24-14Oklahoma Sun Life Stadium • Miami Gardens, FL 2009 BCS National Championship Game
2009Florida13-32AlabamaGeorgia Dome • Atlanta, GA 2009 SEC Championship Game
Alabama37-21TexasRose Bowl Stadium • Pasadena, CA 2010 BCS National Championship Game
2010Auburn22-19OregonUniversity of Phoenix Stadium • Glendale, AZ 2011 BCS National Championship Game
2011LSU9-6OTAlabamaBryant–Denny StadiumTuscaloosa, AL 2011 LSU vs. Alabama football game
LSU0-21Alabama Mercedes-Benz Superdome • New Orleans, LA 2012 BCS National Championship Game
2012 Notre Dame14-42Alabama Sun Life Stadium • Miami Gardens, FL 2013 BCS National Championship Game

AP Poll inclusion in the BCSEdit

In 1997, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was developed to try to unify the poll results by picking two teams for a "real" national championship game. For the first several years the AP Poll factored in the determination of the BCS rankings, along with other factors including the Coaches Poll and computer-based polls. Because of a series of controversies surrounding the BCS, the AP demanded in December, 2004, that its poll no longer be used in the BCS rankings,[6] and so the 2004-2005 season was the last season that the AP Poll was used for this purpose.

In the 2003 season the BCS system broke down when the final BCS standings ranked the University of Southern California (USC) at #3 while the two human polls in the system had ranked USC at #1. As a result, USC did not play in the BCS' designated national championship game. After defeating another highly ranked team, Michigan, in its final game, the AP Poll kept USC at #1 while the Coaches Poll was contractually obligated to select the winner of the BCS game, Louisiana State University (LSU), as the #1 team. The resulting split national title was the very problem that the BCS was created to solve, and has been widely considered an embarrassment.[7]

In 2004, a new controversy erupted at the end of the season when Auburn and Utah, who both finished the regular season 12-0, were left out of the BCS title game in favor of Oklahoma who also was 12-0 and had won decisively over Colorado in the Big 12 Championship game. USC went on to a win easily over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl while Auburn and Utah both won their bowl games, leaving three undefeated teams at the end of the season. Also, in that same year, Texas made up late ground on California (Cal) in the BCS standings and as a result grabbed a high-payout, at-large spot in the Rose Bowl. Previous to that poll, Cal had been ranked ahead of Texas in both human polls and the BCS poll. Going into their final game, the Golden Bears were made aware that while margin of victory did not affect computer rankings, it did affect human polls and just eight voters changing their vote could affect the final standings.[8] Both teams won their game that week, but the Texas coach, Mack Brown, had made a public effort to lobby for his team to be moved higher in the ranking. When the human polls were released, Texas remained behind Cal, but it had closed the gap enough so that the BCS poll (which determines placement) placed Texas above Cal, angering both Cal and its conference, the Pac-10.[9] The final poll positions had been unchanged with Cal at #4 AP, #4 coaches, and #6 computers polls and Texas at #6 AP, #5 coaches, and #4 computer polls.[9] The AP Poll voters were caught in the middle because their vote changes were automatically made public, while the votes of the Coaches poll were kept confidential. Although there had been a more substantial shift in the votes of the Coaches Poll, the only clear targets for the ire of fanatical fans were the voters in the AP Poll. While officials from both Cal and the Pac-10 called for the coaches' votes to be made public, the overtures were turned down and did little to solve the problem of AP voters. Cal went on to lose to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl. Texas defeated Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

Many members of the press who voted in the AP Poll were upset by the fiasco and, at the behest of its members, the AP asked that its poll no longer be used in the BCS rankings. The 2004 season was the last season that the AP Poll was used in the BCS rankings, it was replaced in the BCS equation by the newly created Harris Interactive College Football Poll.[10]

Final AP football polls Edit

Other media football pollsEdit

The AP Poll is not the only college football poll. The other major poll is the Coaches Poll, which has been sponsored by several organizations: the United Press (1950–1957), the United Press International (1958–1990), USA Today (1991–present), CNN (1991–1996), and ESPN (1997–2005). Having two major polls has led to numerous "split" national titles, where the two polls disagreed on the #1 team. This has occurred on eleven different occasions (1954, 1957, 1965, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1991, 1997, 2003).

College basketballEdit

In Division I men's and women's college basketball, the AP Poll is largely just a tool to compare schools throughout the season and spark debate, as it has no bearing on postseason play. Generally, all top 25 teams in the poll are invited to the men's and women's NCAA basketball tournament, also known as March Madness. The poll is usually released every Monday and voters' ballots are made public.[11]

Men's basketballEdit

The AP began compiling a ranking of the top 20 college men's basketball teams during the 1948-1949 season. It has issued this poll continuously since the 1950-1951 season.

Women's basketballEdit

The women's basketball poll began during the 1976-1977 season, and was initially compiled by Mel Greenberg and published by The Philadelphia Inquirer. At first, it was a poll of coaches conducted via telephone, where coaches identified top teams and a list of the Top 20 team was produced. The initial list of coaches did not include Pat Summitt, who asked to join the group, not to improve her rankings, but because of the lack of media coverage, Summitt believed it would be a good way to stay on top of who the top teams were outside of her own schedule.[12] The contributors continued to be coaches until 1994, when the AP took over administration of the poll from Greenberg, and switched to a panel of writers.[13] In 1994, Tennessee started out as #1 in the polls with Connecticut at #4. After a couple of losses, the two teams were ranked #1 and #2, headed into a showdown, scheduled as a special event on Martin Luther King day, the only women's basketball game scheduled on that day. Because of the unusual circumstances, the decision was made to hold off the AP voting for one day, to ensure it would be after the game. Connecticut won the game, and moved into first place in the AP poll, published on Tuesday for the only time. (Connecticut went on to complete an undefeated season).[14] Over the history of the poll, over 255 coaches have had a team represented in polls.[15]

NFL footballEdit

Beginning in 2012, AP will issue a weekly pro football ranking, the AP Pro32 rankings.[16]

See also Edit


  1. "AP College Poll Voters [Football]". Associated Press.
  2. November 15, 1934 AP Football Poll - College Poll Archive - Historical College Football and Basketball Polls and Rankings
  3. 1936 Final Football Polls - College Poll Archive - Historical College Football and Basketball Polls and Rankings
  4. The official final AP poll, taken before the bowls, had Notre Dame #1 (107 first place votes) and Michigan #2 (25 first place votes). Michigan won the Rose Bowl 49-0 over USC while Notre Dame did not play in a bowl game. Detroit Free Press sports editor Lyall Smith arranged a post-bowl AP poll with only Michigan or Notre Dame as choices. Michigan won that poll 266-119.Kyrk, John. Natural Enemies. pp. 142–7. ISBN 1-58979-090-1.
  5. 5.0 5.1 AP No. 1 vs. No. 2 games. Associated Press, August 13, 2008
  6. AP Removes Its Poll From BCS,, Dec. 22, 2004, Accessed June 6, 2006.
  7. Tim Layden, Embarrassing moments in College Football (#10),, Aug. 2, 2006 , Accessed Aug. 2, 2006.
  8. Kelly Whiteside = California bears burden of making point that it's BCS-worthy. USA TODAY, November 29, 2004
  9. 9.0 9.1 *"2004 BCS Standings, BCS Rankings" (.pdf). The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, Inc.. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
  10. BCS Replaces AP Poll,, July 12, 2005, Accessed June 6, 2006.
  11. "AP College Poll Voters [Men's Basketball]". Associated Press.
  12. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Summitt
  13. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Writers
  14. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Tuesday_Poll
  15. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named 255_coaches
  16. Wilner, Barry (31 July 2012). "Packers top first-ever AP Pro32 rankings". The Washington Times. Retrieved 31 July 2012.

External linksEdit

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