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Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 393 -- AP College Football Poll.

A College Football Playoff Beckons-

First off, congrats to the Florida Gators on their BCS national championship. Good for them. Although Ohio State dismantled my Texas Longhorns early in the season in Austin, I was never really impressed with OhSU (alternatively, tOSU). On the other hand, despite Florida's impressive dominance over the Fightin' Troy "Illegal Benefits" Smiths, the Gators are eminently beatable. How appropriate that the Auburn Tigers were awarded the Pontiac Game Changing Performance during the BCS national title game for the play that led to their victory over the Gators during the regular season.

If there was ever a year for a college football playoff, this was it. There was an undefeated team (Boise State) that did not even crack the final top four. At the same time, there were 4 one-loss teams, two of which that did not crack the final top five (Louisville and Wisconsin).

Sportswriters and talking heads are even more biased, unprofessional, and prone to error than political pundits, yet they are essentially entrusted with choosing the bowl matchups. Several years ago, the various college football conferences came together to eliminate sportswriter bias via the Bowl Championship Series; the national championship matchup would be hereby chosen by COMPUTERS! Each year thereafter, the formula was tweaked in response to some problem from the year before. The most recent tweak, made in response to Oklahoma rather than USC playing LSU in the Sugar Bowl for the 2003 national title, essentially marginalized and mooted the computers. Thus, polls were important again.

In the meantime, however, the Associated Press withdrew itself from the BCS formula. Yet, any team, even one that did not participate in the BCS title game, voted number one in the final AP poll of the season would have a completely legitimate claim to the national title. After all, that's the "traditional" way the champ was crowned. In other words, without a playoff, there remains a very real chance for split national championships (or possibly less-than-deserving champions) in college football.

Speaking of playoffs and the ineffectiveness of polling, let's look at the AP poll over the past quarter century. How have they done in terms of predictive preseason polling?

Not so swell. Drawing on and updating this guest post on Wizbang, let's look at the AP top five preseason versus postseason polls. If a team was any position, 1 through 5, in the preseason poll, and ended up in any position, 1 through 5, in the postseason poll, it counts as a "correct" choice by the AP.

Since 1980, the pre-season AP poll has never chosen the five teams that have landed in the top 5 at year's end. Never have AP voters chosen even four of the end-of-year top 5 teams.

On the other hand, only once did the pre-season AP poll choose zero of the teams that ended up in the top 5.

Eight times, the pre-season AP poll chose three teams that ended up in the top 5.

Eleven times, the AP voters chose two teams that ended up in the top 5 (including last year - Texas and USC).

And seven times, the AP voters chose only one team that ended up in the top 5 (including this year - Ohio State).


Some other interesting tidbits:

*Since 1980, the pre-season #1 won the AP title four times: OU in 1985, FSU in 1993 and 1999, and USC in 2004.

*The pre-season #2 became champs three times since 1980: Nebraska in 1995, Miami in 2001, and Texas in 2005.

*The champion came from outside the pre-season top five entirely 15 times (Florida included) since 1980.

In other words, when the AP releases its preseason college football poll next year, you can almost guarantee that two of the top five teams won't be there by the end of the year. The national champ is also more than twice as likely to come from outside the preseason top five than within the top two.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Economic Freedom Equals More, Higher Paying Jobs & Expanding Populations.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 January 2007 01:08 PM