USC poll ban: OU football started it all
Southern Cal is ineligible for the coaches poll this football season. The Trojans’ probation has fit the parameters for “major probation” as deemed by the American Football Coaches Association, so USC won’t be involved in the BCS this season.
Which only makes sense. USC is banned from bowls in the 2010 season; why should the Trojans be included in the rating system that determines bowl destinations?
The entire banned-from-polls policy of the coaches association stems from the 1974 Oklahoma Sooners, who were on probation and banned from bowls. The ’73 Sooners went 10-0-1 and were banned from the post-season; they finished No. 3 in the AP poll and No. 2 in the coaches poll.
That off-season, the coaches voted to ban teams on probation from their poll. The vote was a clear response to the Sooners being a national title contender while on probation for recruiting violations. And indeed, OU won the 1974 AP national title but never appeared in the UPI (coaches) poll.
The coaches association was much reviled in Oklahoma for the decision, but in the clear light of today it was a proper decision. Teams on major probation shouldn’t be eligible for a national title. More pragmatically, teams ineligible for a bowl game shouldn’t be awarded a national championship. You don’t get a bye in the finals.
The coaches association’s criteria for banning teams from its poll is any program under “major” probation, which includes a bowl ban and/or a television ban, and/or loss of 20 percent of scholarships.
Since OU 1974, Southern Cal is the most high-profile program to suffer the indignity of being banned from the coaches poll. But there have been other quality teams that were shut out of the rankings.
1977 Kentucky went 10-1 and was ranked sixth in the final AP poll. This remains the best UK team since the Bear Bryant days, probably since the 1950 team that beat OU in the Sugar Bowl. But the ’77 Wildcats were ranked by the coaches.
1978 Michigan State finished 8-3 and was ranked 12th by AP. Its star receiver was Kirk Gibson. But those Spartans weren’t ranked by the coaches.
1979 Auburn finished 8-3 and ranked 16th by AP. Those Tigers had one of the greatest 1-2 running back combos in college football history, James Brooks and Joe Cribbs. But those Tigers weren’t ranked by the coaches.
1981 SMU finished 10-1 and ranked fifth by AP. This was in the wheelhouse of the Pony Express, Eric Dickerson and Craig James. A year later, SMU would go to the Cotton Bowl, beat Dan Marino and Pitt, and finish No. 2 in both polls. But the 1981 Mustangs weren’t ranked by the coaches.
1981 Miami finished 9-2 and ranked eighth by AP. Sometimes we think the Miami juggernaut started in 1983. Not so. 1981 was Howard Schnellenberger’s third Hurricane team, and it was loaded. Jim Kelly was the quarterback, and Miami beat Florida, Houston, Penn State, Florida State and Notre Dame. The ‘Canes lost only to Texas and Mississippi State. But those Hurricanes weren’t ranked by the coaches.
1981 Arizona State finished 9-2 and ranked 16th by AP. ASU had future NFL players Gerald Riggs (tailback) and Mike Pagel (quarterback). But those Sun Devils weren’t ranked by the coaches.
1982 Clemson finished 9-1-1 and ranked eighth by AP. The Tigers were coming off their 1981 national championship and lost only to Herschel Walker and Georgia, 13-7 in a season opener. But those Tigers weren’t ranked by the coaches.
1982 USC went 8-3 and was ranked 15th by AP. Those Trojans had great linemen like Don Mosebar and Bruce Matthews; their quarterback was Sean Salisbury. USC beat OU 12-0 at Owen Field. But those Trojans weren’t ranked by the coaches.
1983 Clemson went 9-1-1 and was ranked 11th by AP. Those Tigers had Kevin Mack at tailback and William Perry (the Fridge) on the defensive line. But the Danny Ford probation continued, and those Tigers, for the second straight season, were not ranked by the coaches.
1985 Florida went 9-1-1 and was ranked fifth by AP. Former OU offensive coordinator Galen Hall had taken over as Gator head coach in the wake of the Charley Pell scandal; Florida in 1984 won its first SEC title ever and was great again in ’85. But those Gators were not ranked by the coaches.
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