History of the AP College Football Poll

  • By Mike Pearson
  • 19 Oct, 2016

October 19, 2016

For more than 80 years, the Associated Press has provided a platform for lively discussion about college football.

From 1936 to 1961, the wire service only ranked 20 teams, instead of the 25 that appear in today’s polls. The voting was originally open to sports editors of newspapers, radio stations and TV stations, but the number of voters were highly inconsistent from week to week. That would change in the late 1980s when a designated panel of voters were assigned annually.

From 1961 to ’67, just 10 teams made the poll, greatly diminishing interest among the general public. In 1968, the poll went back to 20 teams, then to 25 in 1989.

The biggest jump to No. 1 in the poll occurred on Sept. 4, 1984 when the Miami Hurricanes leaped nine positions, from 10th to the top spot.

The largest downward swing happed in 2009 when California fell 18 positions, from sixth to 24th.

There have been 50 match-ups between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the poll. That first occurred in 1943 when second-ranked Michigan fell to top-ranked Notre Dame.

Twice a game between the top two teams has ended in a tie (1946, a 0-0 tie between Army and Notre Dame, and 1966, a 10-10 tie between Michigan State and the Fighting Irish).

A total of eight current Big Ten schools have been involved in at least one of those 1-2 match-ups, but which current Big Ten school has played the MOST times in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game?

Well, Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin and Iowa have all appeared once in a game pitting No. 1 vs. No. 2. Penn State has played in three of those big games, Michigan four times and Nebraska five times. But the most frequent Big Ten team to appear in a match-up between No. 1 and No. 2 is Ohio State.  The Buckeyes have been a participant six times.

 

 Happy 62nd Birthday today to former NBA star Joe Bryant, Kobe’s dad. Former Illinois coach Bruce Weber, who led the Illini to a 37-2 record in 2005, turns 60 today. And Evander Holyfield, the only man to win the heavyweight boxing title five times, is 54 on Wednesday.

Pearsonal Opinion

By Mike Pearson 10 Nov, 2016

Since SportsLLL.com made its debut a month-and-a-half ago (Sept. 23), we’ve learned a lot about our nearly 2,000 unique visitors.

An in-depth analysis of the website’s statistics tell us much of what we thought we knew.

1)   THEY LOVE OUR “OLD-SCHOOL” APPROACH TO SPORTS. There is no breaking news on SportsLLL.com, just features that seem to unlock their childhood memory banks.

2)   THEY ENJOY OUR VIDEO SPORTS PUZZLES. From “Sports WHOzzles” to “Sports Match-Ups” to “Sports Scramblers”, our visitors like to test their sports trivia skills.

3)   THEY’RE INTRIGUED BY OUR “MY SPORTS LIST” FEATURE. It’s the third most popular stop overall. We’ll attempt to have a bigger sampling of these lists in the future. We've already tapped into a lot of sports celebrities and are awaiting their lists.

4)   THERE ARE A LOT OF FOLKS THAT COLLECT (OR COLLECTED) BASEBALL CARDS. This has been the most popular video feature on SportsLLL.com, so we’ll continue to debut a new “Cardboard Treasures” video every week. We’d love to hear more from you about your personal collections.

5)   SPARTAN AND ILLINI FANS LOVE THEIR TEAMS. Since I was a member of the Michigan State and Illinois sports publicity staffs, history about those two sports programs are my strong suits. For our visitors from mid-Michigan, we’ll continue to debut new “Spartifacts” articles every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday (No. 2 in SportsLLL.com popularity) and “Who’s That Spartan?” videos every week. Our Champaign-Urbana visitors will get new “Illini Legends, Lists & Lore” every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (No. 4), and also “Who’s That Illini?” videos each week.

6)   The No. 1 destination for unique visitors on SportsLLL is our “Cool Stuff” store. We’ll have some BIG news about “Cool Stuff” in the very near future.

As indicated earlier, we’ll have some news next week about how we’re going to expand our SportsLLL features.

As always, thanks for visiting SportsLLL.com.

 

Born on November 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th are these sports stars:

•THURSDAY: Happy 64th Birthday to the Big Ten Network’s Gerry DiNardo.

• FRIDAY: Vinny Testaverde turns 53 on Nov. 11th.

• SATURDAY: Happy 62nd Birthday to sportscaster Al Michaels.

• SUNDAY: Former Michigan basketball star Rumeal Robinson celebrates his 50th birthday.
By Mike Pearson 02 Nov, 2016

It’s the pinnacle experience that American sports fans love. Championship game seven.

And, in case you haven’t heard, there’s one of these magical events scheduled for tonight in Cleveland. The Cubs and the Indians face off at Cleveland’s Progressive at 8:08 p.m. ET.

If you’re counting, this is the 38th game seven in World Series history.

Amaze your friends with this other game seven trivia:

• It’s been 31 years since a team has come back from a 3-to-1 deficit to win the World Series. That was George Brett’s ’85 Kansas City Royals.

• It’s been 37 years since a team has climbed out of a 3-to-1 hole to win game five at home, then claim victories in games six and seven on the road. That happened when the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates rebounded against the Baltimore Orioles. That scenario also took place in 1968 (Tigers winning at St. Louis) and 1958 (Yankees winning at Milwaukee).

• The biggest scoring margin in a World Series game seven has been 11 runs. That happened in both 1934 (St. Louis over Detroit, 11-0) and ’85 (Kansas City over St. Louis, 11-0).

• Of the 37 previous game sevens, 14 contests resulted in just a one-run margin.

• In 1926, game seven of the World Series ended when Babe Ruth was caught stealing.

• In 1946, the Cardinals’ Enos Slaughter scored the winning run following a mad dash from first base.

• Jackie Robinson played his final Major League game in game seven of the 1956 World Series.

• Bill Mazeroski slammed a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning in the seventh and deciding game of the 1959 Series.

• The only time a game seven ended on a pop-up to the catcher was in 1968 when the Tigers’ Bill Freehan successfully handled the result of Tim McCarver’s unsuccessful swing.

• Jack Morris pitched all 10 innings of a 1-0 Twins game seven victory over Atlanta.

 

Born on November 2nd are these sports stars: back-to-back no-hitter pitcher Johnny VanderMeer (d. 1997), Willie McGee (58) and Columbian baseball star Orlando Cabrera (42).

By Mike Pearson 31 Oct, 2016

It’s Halloween, that day when Trick-or-Treaters come to your door, often dressed as sports stars.

I wonder if October 31st was especially fun for these Halloween-themed sports stars when they were youngsters:

 • Did the late race car driver Dick Trickle scream “Trickle or Treat”?

 • Did former NBA star Marcellus Williams instinctively turn around when some yelled “Boo”?

 • A defensive end named Frank Steen played one season for the Green Bay Packers. I wonder … were his parents tempted to give him a middle name that started with "N"?

 • Longtime NFL tight end Jeremy Shockey has a great Halloween name.

 • Though he wasn’t called “The Galloping Ghost” by Grantland Rice until he was an Illini sophomore, Red Grange epitomizes Halloween.

 • Did former Raiders tackle Rory Graves get teased on October 31st when he was a kid?

 • Did longtime coach Hal Mumme ever get dressed up as a … you know?

 • Same with former NFLer John Skelton?

 • I wonder if Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon ever was nicknamed “Full” Moon?

 • Little Spud Webb had to have dressed up as a spider at least once as a kid, right?

 • Though they never made it to the big leagues, former minor leaguers Cedric and George Wolfman had perfect Halloween names.

 • Trick-or-Treaters nowadays must love to visit former Pirates pitcher John Canderlaria’s house on October 31st. After all, he’s the “Candy Man”.

 

 Born on Halloween—October 31st—were these sports stars: former Orioles pitcher Dave McNally (d. 2002) … marathon standout Frank Shorter (69) … Alabama coach Nick Saban (65) … NBA guard John Lucas (63) … coach Doc Rivers (55) … baseball’s Fred McGriff (53) … and basketball’s Antonio Davis (48).

By Mike Pearson 28 Oct, 2016

As a former collegiate publicity director, I’ve witnessed a bunch of football coaches’ pregame and halftime pep talks.

Some of the presentations were spectacular, resulting in their frenzied troops breaking down the door to get out to the field. Many others were pretty darn unforgettable.

Some head coaches, quite frankly, aren’t built to give a pregame speech. Others are naturals. I’ve determined that the best coaches know when and where to flip the switch. They realize that you can’t deliver a fiery speech every week or even every other week.

Interviewed by the Northeast Ohio Media Group in 2014, Cleveland Heights coach Jeff Rotsky said he tried to create a sense of urgency when he speaks to his team.

“We try to make them understand that they’re playing for their community and try to rally around that,” Rotsky said. “At the same time, however, we want them to come out in a controlled rage.”

One presentation that I remember in particular was in 2010 when I was at Miami University. Coach Michael Haywood had led the RedHawks to a 9-4 record, a Mid-American Conference Championship and a berth in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala. However, a week or so before the Bowl game, Haywood accepted an offer to become head coach at the University of Pittsburgh. Miami’s athletic director decided to hand the reigns over to assistant coach Lance Guidry on a one-game basis.

If you want to get “fired up”, take a look at his pregame speech. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQwLJjRMag8

 

 Legendary Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne is generally recognized as the king of the pep talk. One I want to tell you about occurred on Oct. 28, 1922. It was a big game at Georgia Tech, and Rockne was looking for a way to inspire his team to victory.

In the locker room that afternoon, he held a telegram from Western Union. With tears in his eyes, he told his Fighting Irish players about the message he had just received. “Here’s a telegram from my sick little boy, Billy, who’s critically ill in the hospital,” said Rockne. “It says: ‘I want Daddy’s team to win.’”

The locker room fell silent, broken only by an occasional sniffle to hold back tears.

Notre Dame went out to the field that day and took care of business, handing Georgia Tech a 13-3 loss.

Upon arrival home at the train station in South Bend, a cheering crowd greeted their heroes. Among the enthusiastic throng stood “Little Billy”, now appearing to be perfectly healthy.  

Well, it turns out Billy was never in the hospital. Rockne had sent the telegram to himself.

 

Today is Bruce Jenner’s 67th birthday. He … she goes by a different name today, but the person I remember is that 1976 Olympian.

By Mike Pearson 26 Oct, 2016

Michigan State University may not be the University of Michigan’s greatest rival in football, but there’s no doubt the Maize and Blue will have their Wolverine claws sharpened and extended this Saturday.

It certainly appears to be shaping up as a blowout. As of today, the Wolverines are a 23 ½-point favorite. Michigan is No. 2 in the national rankings, MSU has lost five in a row.

Statistically, U-M’s defense is a stingy bunch, allowing just 10 points per game, fewer than any other collegiate team. Conversely, the Spartan defense ranks 12th among the 14 Big Ten teams, allowing 29.7 points per game. Yardage-wise, Michigan is yielding 181 fewer yards per game than the Spartans (207 to 388).

Offensively, the Wolverines average 48.7 points per game, while MSU has struggled to a next-to-last 20.3 ppg. Michigan has the Conference’s second-best running game and the league’s most efficient passing game. The Spartans have struggled against both the run and the pass.

An especially telling statistic is team turnovers. Michigan is +7, the Spartans -4. Should MSU be able to hang on to the ball, this game could go right down to the wire.

One also has to give the psychological edge to the Wolverines. Remember … every day for the past year--over and over and over again--they’ve been forced to watch “the play”.

So, chalk this game up as a “W” for Michigan, right? Yeah, probably, but you must remember these two words: RIVALRY GAME. Stranger things have happened.

 

Twenty-six years ago today, Wayne Gretzky reached the elusive 2,000 points plateau, assisting on a first period goal by Kings’ teammate Tomas Sandstrom. Amazingly, it was just his 12th season in professional hockey.  “The Great One” would play another nine seasons and finish with what appears to be an unreachable 2,857 points. How unreachable? Gretzky’s former teammate Mark Messier ranks second on the NHL’s career points list with 1,887.

 

Fifty-six years ago on this date, the American League approved the shift of the Washington Senators to Minnesota, then awarded new franchises to Washington and Los Angeles, beginning play in 1961.

By Mike Pearson 24 Oct, 2016

More times than not, I’m only lukewarm to closely following the Fall Classic without my Tigers in the mix, but that’s not the case this year. In one way or another, significant history will be made. Chicago and Cleveland, after all, are the two franchises with the longest droughts of World Series titles, a combined 176 years without a championship flag.

Here’s my breakdown as to why the Cubs will break their 108-year losing streak:


THE INFIELDS:

Statistically, I see the Cubs holding the advantage at both corners and the Indians stronger up the middle.

Anthony Rizzo basely edges Mike Napoli at first. Both hit equally well, but Rizzo has better defensive skills.

At third base, Kris Bryant is probably going to be the National League’s Most Valuable Player. Jose Ramirez hit .312 this season, but Bryant is easily the best player on both teams.

Shortstops Addison Russell and Francisco Lindor both have solid defensive skills, but Lindor gets on base more often.

At second, Jason Kipnis is a consistent threat for extra base hits. Javier Baez is a future star, just not quite as good as Kipnis.

Edge: Cubs (just because of Bryant)

  ***


THE OUTFIELDS:

Neither of the right fielders is remotely impressive. The Indians’ Lonnie Chisenhall was primarily a part-time player during the regular season, but Jason Heyward has simply been inept as a hitter.

In center field, I give the slightest of edges to the platoon pair of Indians platoon pair of speedy Rajai Davis and Tyler Naquin. The Cubs’ Dexter Fowler had just 48 RBI in 456 regular-season at bats.

Cubs left fielder Ben Zobrist gets on base more often than Cleveland’s Coco Crisp and Brandon Guyer.

Edge: Indians

***


THE CATCHERS:

Cleveland’s Roberto Perez is strong defensively, but hits just .183. Chicago’s three-headed catching trio of Willson Contreras, Miguel Montero and Davis Ross combined to hit 30 home runs.

Edge: Cubs

***


STARTING PITCHERS:

Terry Francona would be wise to start Corey Kluber in Games 1 and 4, then, if necessary, in Game 7. Josh Tomlin has displayed a strong arm lately, but Kluber is clearly the key to a World Series title for Cleveland. The Cubs can counter him with a post-season proven Jon Lester, a nearly unhittable Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta.

Edge: Cubs

***


RELIEF PITCHERS:

As impressive as Aroldis Chapman’s fastball is, he’s not exactly been overly impressive. The edge goes to the Indians’ dynamic duo of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.

Edge: Indians

By Mike Pearson 21 Oct, 2016

Residing in southwestern Ohio as I have for the last nine years, I’m surrounded by Cincinnati Reds fans. If you haven’t been to a game at Great American Ball Park, you need to put that on your list.

The Queen City faithful hasn’t had much to cheer about since a 90-72 season in 2013. In fact, over the last three seasons Cincinnati has a pathetic cumulative record of 208 wins and 278 losses.

However, 40 years ago today—Oct. 21, 1976—that city on the north bank of the Ohio River ended one of their most legendary seasons, beating the Yankees, 7-2, and sweeping the Bronx Bombers in four straight World Series games.

The Big Red Machine’s starting lineup ranks as one of the all-time greatest in the history of the game. Seven of the eight regulars were named to the All-Star Game roster that summer.

• Catcher Johnny Bench, a future Hall of Famer, averaged only .234, but rapped out 16 home runs and had 74 RBI.

• First baseman Tony Perez, another Cooperstown honoree, had 19 homers and 91 RBI.

• At second base was Hall of Famer Joe Morgan. He hit .320 in 1976 with 27 dingers and 111 RBI. The National League’s MVP also had 60 stolen bases.

• The shortstop was underrated Dave Concepcion, a steady .281 hitter.

• At third was a guy who should be in the Hall of Fame, Pete Rose. No. 14 had a team-leading 215 hits and scored a team-high 130 runs, batting .323.

• Ken Griffey, Sr. was Cincinnati’s right fielder. Forgotten in BRM lore is that he was the club’s leading hitter in 1976 with a .336 average.

• In center field was another underrated player, Cesar Geronimo. The Dominican batted .307 that season.

• And in left field was another underestimated athlete, George Foster. He hit .306 and had a team-high 29 homers and 121 RBI. Foster finished second in N.L. MVP balloting.

OK, maybe it’s not Murderer’s Row, but that lineup has to rank among the top five in history.

 

Happy 88th Birthday today to former Yankee star Whitey Ford. George Bell, the American League’s MVP in 1987, turns 57 years old today. And current Arizona Diamondbacks pitching star Zach Greinke celebrates his 33rd birthday on Friday.

By Mike Pearson 19 Oct, 2016

For more than 80 years, the Associated Press has provided a platform for lively discussion about college football.

From 1936 to 1961, the wire service only ranked 20 teams, instead of the 25 that appear in today’s polls. The voting was originally open to sports editors of newspapers, radio stations and TV stations, but the number of voters were highly inconsistent from week to week. That would change in the late 1980s when a designated panel of voters were assigned annually.

From 1961 to ’67, just 10 teams made the poll, greatly diminishing interest among the general public. In 1968, the poll went back to 20 teams, then to 25 in 1989.

The biggest jump to No. 1 in the poll occurred on Sept. 4, 1984 when the Miami Hurricanes leaped nine positions, from 10th to the top spot.

The largest downward swing happed in 2009 when California fell 18 positions, from sixth to 24th.

There have been 50 match-ups between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the poll. That first occurred in 1943 when second-ranked Michigan fell to top-ranked Notre Dame.

Twice a game between the top two teams has ended in a tie (1946, a 0-0 tie between Army and Notre Dame, and 1966, a 10-10 tie between Michigan State and the Fighting Irish).

A total of eight current Big Ten schools have been involved in at least one of those 1-2 match-ups, but which current Big Ten school has played the MOST times in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game?

Well, Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin and Iowa have all appeared once in a game pitting No. 1 vs. No. 2. Penn State has played in three of those big games, Michigan four times and Nebraska five times. But the most frequent Big Ten team to appear in a match-up between No. 1 and No. 2 is Ohio State.  The Buckeyes have been a participant six times.

 

 Happy 62nd Birthday today to former NBA star Joe Bryant, Kobe’s dad. Former Illinois coach Bruce Weber, who led the Illini to a 37-2 record in 2005, turns 60 today. And Evander Holyfield, the only man to win the heavyweight boxing title five times, is 54 on Wednesday.

By Mike Pearson 18 Oct, 2016

Ninety-two years ago today—Oct. 18, 1924—is, quite understandably, the most memorable single day in University of Illinois sports history.

Not only was it the afternoon the university’s imposing Memorial Stadium was officially dedicated, but it was also the day when one of America’s greatest football legends—Red Grange—was christened.

During the first 12 minutes of the game, the Wheaton Iceman scored touchdowns the first four times he touched the ball, on runs of 95, 67, 56, and 44 yards. He later returned to score a fifth TD on an 11-yard run and also threw for a sixth Illini score. When the final gun sounded, Grange had piled up 276 yards of total offense and had 126 yards in kickoff returns. Illinois beat mighty Michigan by the unlikely score of 39-14.

Two months later, The Chicago Tribune awarded the very first Silver Football Trophy to Grange, honoring him as the Big Ten’s Most Valuable Player. He rushed for a career-high 743 yards on only 113 carries and scored a school record 13 touchdowns.


On that very same day—Oct. 18, 1924—several hundred miles away, at the Polo Grounds in New York City, the legend of Notre Dame’s Four Horsemen was born. The quartet of quarterback Harry Stuhldreher and running backs Elmer Layden, Don Miller and Jim Crowley proficiently led the undefeated Fighting Irish to a 13-7 victory over powerful Army.

Grantland Rice, the most famous sportswriter of his team, used his typewriter to compose this famous poetic lead:

“Outlined against a blue-grey October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore, they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Stuhdreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden.”

 

Two of the Motor City’s greatest sports heroes share a birthday today. Willie Horton, slugging outfielder of the 1968 World Champion Detroit Tigers, turns 74 today, while boxing legend Thomas “The Hit Man” Hearns, champion in five different weight classifications, celebrates his 58th birthday. They share their special day with two other Hall of Famers. Bears player and coach Mike Ditka marks his 77th birthday and, perhaps the greatest female tennis player of all time, Martina Navratilova, turns 60.

By Mike Pearson 14 Oct, 2016

He’s widely recognized as the greatest college basketball coach of all-time. And on the 106th anniversary of his birth in tiny Hall, Ind., we remember the legendary career of John Wooden with a list of trivia you may not know.

• When Wooden was 14 years old, he led Martinsville High School to a state title in 1927 and runner-up finishes in 1926 and 1928.

• With the Purdue Boilermakers, he became the first player to ever be named a three-time All-American.

• Not surprisingly, Wooden graduated from Purdue University in 1932 with a degree in English. He was the author of several books, including his most famous, “Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.”

• During one 46-game stretch as a professional player, he made 134 consecutive free throws.

• Wooden served as a full lieutenant in the U.S. Navy.

• Following his discharge in 1946, Wooden went to Indiana Teachers College (now Indiana State University), as athletic director, basketball coach and baseball coach for two years.

• Beginning in 1948, he coached UCLA for 27 seasons. His first year’s salary was $6,000. He never made more than $35,000 a year.

• He was the National Coach of the Year seven times.

• Wooden won 80.8 percent of his game with the Bruins, including a men’s record streak of 88 consecutive victories.

• His last 12 Bruins teams won 10 NCAA championships, including seven in a row from 1967-73.

• During Wooden's tenure with the Bruins, UCLA lost only two of the 151 games it played at Pauley Pavilion.

 

 Happy 69th Birthday today to former star Charlie Joyner. He retired with the most career receptions, receiving yards and games played of any wide receiver in NFL history. Northwestern grad and current Yankees manager Joe Giradi turns 52 today.


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