The polls are fabulous, even still, but the coaches are being far too kind to Oklahoma
Want an indication college football is and feels nothing like what college football used to be and feel?
You know, other than the Big 12 going to 16 schools, the Pac-12 pretty much dissolving altogether and the Big Ten soon to be stretching not only from Piscataway, N.J., to Los Angeles, but Piscataway to Seattle, too?
Well, the coaches’ poll came out on Monday and by midnight it was no longer one of ESPN’s top seven headlines on its college football home page.
Remember the polls?
Once, they were everything.
Growing up, it was the AP media poll and the UPI coaches’ poll and, for a long time, the list stopped at 20 rather than 25.
AP was the Associated Press and UPI was United Press International, an AP competitor that still exists, if you can believe it, but nothing like it used to be.
UPI had it until 1990, USA Today/CNN had it through ’96, USA Today/ESPN had it through ’04 and though USA Today alone has administered it since, title sponsorship has somehow fallen into the hands of Amway, the pyramid scheme marketing and sales folks.
Believe it or not, I’ve never written this in my life … but the official title of the coaches’ poll, now in its 10th year, is the “Amway Coaches’ Poll.”
Now you know.
This, you may not know:
If the coaches’ poll had its way, Oklahoma would have one fewer football national championship.
That’s because the Sooners were on probation in 1974 and, as a result, did not play in a bowl game. Also, at the time, the coaches’ poll did not rank teams on probation.
That means one of Southern Cal’s national championships also came in 1974, after a 10-1-1 season, while the Sooners claimed the AP national championship, going 11-0 but not playing in a bowl game.
Oh, did we not explain?
Until the 1997 season, the polls, not the BCS championship game, nor the College Football Playoff, nor anything else, determined the national champion(s).
In fact, in one last hurrah, the polls again determined the national champion in 2003.
One of them.
Again, the Sooners were involved.
For my money, Bob Stoops’ best OU team remains his 2003 team.
The Sooner defense held eight teams to 13 or fewer points.
The Sooner offense, led by Heisman Trophy winner Jason White, following a 20-13 victory at Alabama on Sept. 6 — the Renaldo Works game — scored 59, 52, 59, 53, 65, 34, 34, 52, 77, 41 and 56 points its next 10 games.
Then, impossibly, OU fell 35-7 to Darren Sproles and Kansas State at the Big 12 title game in Kansas City. Nonetheless, though the Sooners fell to No. 3 in the polls, they remained No. 1 according to the computers that helped determine who should play in the BCS title game.
That meant the title game, between OU and LSU, Nos. 1 and 2 according to the BCS, was actually between No. 3 and No. 2 according to the polls.
Who was No. 1?
Southern Cal, of course.
LSU beat OU 21-14 in New Orleans at the Sugar Bowl-slash-BCS title game after Southern Cal had already toppled Michigan 28-14 in Pasadena.
When the polls came out, LSU had the top spot in the coaches’ poll only because it was contractually obligated to have its voters vote the BCS championship game winner No. 1.
The AP media poll, however, having not bargained away its independence, voted the Trojans into the top spot.
That’s how mammoth the polls were. They were so big, the BCS, in its formation, felt obligated to hook itself up with one of them, lest what would have happened following the 2003 season had it not: a BCS national champion that was No. 1 in neither final poll.
Expanding the playoff to four teams in 2014 has made it all moot, and the polls have not, not really, determined a national champion since.
Nevertheless, they’re still cool and the coaches’ poll arrived Monday and here it is.
4. Ohio State
6. Southern Cal
7. Penn State
8. Florida State
13. Notre Dame
17. Kansas State
18. Oregon State
20. North Carolina
22. Ole Miss
24. Texas Tech
25. Texas A&M
Now, a few things:
Hey, it’s Clay. I apologize, but we’ve hit the paywall portion of today’s entry. So much at Oklahoma Columnist remains free, yet this venture’s still made possible by paid subscriptions. If you’re a free subscriber, please consider upgrading for $6/month or $60/year. If you’re new here, please consider a free or paid subscription.
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