2012 USA Today Coaches' Top 25 Poll
Since 1950, the AFCA has conducted a weekly Top 20/Top 25 poll during the college football season. The voting panel is made up of member head coaches and has been sponsored by United Press International (1950-90), USA Today/CNN (1991-1996), USA Today/ESPN (1997-2004) and USA Today (2005-present).
The coaches’ poll was the brainchild of Leo Petersen, UPI’s first sports editor. UPI was trying to establish itself with newspapers around the country at the time. Petersen hoped to generate some interest by publishing a college football poll similar to the one being done by the Associated Press. He came up with the idea of using a panel of coaches who would be polled weekly to determine their top 20 teams.
The original board of coaches consisted of 35 coaches — five from each of seven geographical regions of the country. In 1976, the board was increased to 42 members and in 1986, it was boosted to 50. The current board consists of 59 coaches.
One of the major differences between the AP poll and the USA Today poll is that, since 1974, the coaches’ poll does not include teams on either NCAA or conference-sanctioned probation.
From 1992-94, the USA Today poll and the AP poll were combined to form a “bowl coalition poll” that was used to determine the slotting of teams in the major New Year’s Day bowl games. The coalition poll was created to aid in setting up a possible No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-up for the national championship on New Year’s Day. Since 1998, the USA Today Coaches’ Poll has been a part of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings, which is used to select the teams that will participate in the BCS national championship game.
The AFCA, in conjunction with USA Today, now awards the AFCA Coaches’ Trophy to its national champion each season. The head coach of the No. 1-ranked team receives the trophy at the AFCA Convention in early January.
Most Titles: Oklahoma, USC and Alabama have captured the most coaches’ poll national titles with six. The Sooners won the title in 1950-55-56-75-85-2000. USC won the title in 1962-67-72-74-78-2004. Alabama won the title in 1961-64-73-79-92-2009.
The other multiple winners are Miami (Fla.) (1983-87-89-2001), Nebraska (1971-94-95-97), Texas (1963-69-70-2005), Florida (1996-2006-08), LSU (1958-2003-07), Notre Dame (1966-77-88), Ohio State (1957-68-2002), Florida State (1993-99), Michigan State (1952-65), Penn State (1982-86), Tennessee (1951-98).
Back-To-Back: Three teams have repeated as coaches’ poll national champions: Nebraska, 1994 and 1995; Texas, 1969 and 1970 and Oklahoma in 1955 and 1956.
Bridesmaids: Southern California (1968-76-79-2003-05-07-08) has finished in the No. 2 spot seven times to lead all schools, followed by Ohio State (1954-61-70-96-98-2006) with six No. 2 finishes. Miami (Fla.) (1986-88-91-2000-02) has finished in the No. 2 spot five times. Alabama (1971-74-77-78) has finished second four times. Florida State (1987-89-92), Michigan State (1951-55-66) and Tennessee (1956-67-95) have finished second three times each.
Consecutive Years: Nebraska finished in the final poll 33 straight seasons from 1969 to 2001 to set the record for longest all-time streak in coaches’ poll history. The Cornhuskers finished 10th or better in 26 of those 33 years. Following the Cornhuskers are Florida State (22 seasons 1984-2005), Michigan (20 seasons 1985-2004), Michigan (16 seasons 1968-83), Notre Dame (15 seasons 1964-78) and Alabama (13 seasons 1971-83).
Current Streak: Ohio State has appeared in the final poll in 10 straight seasons (2002-2010).
Top Two: Southern California leads all schools with 12 top two finishes in the Coaches’ Poll. Alabama and Miami (Fla.) are tied for second with nine top two finishes. Oklahoma is next with eight top two finishes.
Top Five: Oklahoma has finished in the top five in 25 polls. The Sooners are followed by Ohio State (21), Texas (18), Alabama (17), Southern California (17), Florida State (14), Notre Dame (14), Nebraska (12), Penn State (12) and Michigan (10).
Consecutive Top Five: Florida State owns the record for most consecutive top five finishes in the coaches’ poll with 14 in a row from 1987 to 2000.
Champions By Conference: The Southeastern Conference boast the most coaches’ poll champions among current members with 18. The SEC is followed by the Big 12 (14), Big Ten (8) Pacific 10 (8), Big East (6), Atlantic Coast (5) and the Mountain West Conference (1). Notre Dame (3) is the only current independent school to have won a coaches’ poll title.
Three conferences were credited with three championships in the 1990s. Nebraska (1994-95-97) won three coaches’ poll championships for the Big 12/Big 8; Georgia Tech (1990) and Florida State (1993-99) claimed the crown for the Atlantic Coast Conference and Alabama (1992), Florida (1996) and Tennessee (1998) finished No. 1 for the Southeastern Conference. Washington (1991) won the remaining title in the ’90s for the Pacific 10.
Five different conferences have won titles in the 2000s. Oklahoma (2000) and Texas (2005) have won two national championships for the Big 12, while LSU (2003-07), Florida (2006-08), Alabama (2009) and Auburn (2010) have won six for the Southeastern Conference. They followed by the Big East (Miami (Fla.), 2001); Big Ten (Ohio State, 2002); and Pacific 12 (USC, 2004).
Coaching Notes: John McKay and Bear Bryant own the most national titles in the coaches’ poll with four each. Tom Osborne, Bud Wilkinson and Darrell Royal are next with three apiece. Miami (Fla.) won its four national titles under four different coaches. Howard Schnellenberger (1983), Jimmy Johnson (1987), Dennis Erickson (1989) and Larry Coker (2001) guided the Hurricanes to the top spot. Notre Dame won its three national titles under three different coaches. Ara Parseghian (1966), Dan Devine (1977) and Lou Holtz (1988) coached the Irish to their No. 1 finishes. Paul Dietzel (1958), Nick Saban (2003) and Les Miles (2007) led LSU to its three national titles, while Steve Spurrier (1996) and Urban Meyer (2006-08) guided Florida to its three national championships. Nick Saban has won two national championships at two different schools, LSU (2007) and Alabama (2009).