An Evaluation of National Championships 1936-2013

selmaborntidefan

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1958 AP FINAL POLL
National champion: LSU 10-0
Undefeated teams with ties:#3 Army 8-0-1, #4 Auburn 9-0-1, #6 Air Force 9-0-1


In the 1958 pre-season poll, Auburn dropped all the way to fifth, behind three Northern teams and Oklahoma. An early tie with Georgia Tech was not considered a bad thing...until Tech imploded and wound up 5-4-1 on the year. Auburn completed a second straight unbeaten campaign, but the tie cost Auburn both the SEC and (probably) the national championship.

Ohio State was the pre-season #1, a reasonable choice. And in 1958, the Big Ten returned to its powerhouse ways. landing four teams in the top 13, including FWAA national champion Iowa. It's very possible the Hawkeyes might have overcome the late loss to the Buckeyes, but a tie with Air Force, unbeaten in only their third full season, hurt Iowa immensely. Four teams cycles through at number one until LSU reached the top after knocking off Florida on the day Army netted a 14-14 tie with Pitt.

LSU and Auburn were 1-2 in the next-to-last poll, and there is really no controversy to be had in 1958. Iowa's FWAA title was one of a pattern of questionable choices that the FWAA made back then that almost always saw them picked a Big Ten team with a lesser record over another national champion (as happened in 1961, when they chose Ohio State over Alabama).

Once again, a year of immense controversy is followed by a reasonable year of calm. The SEC had bagged two titles in a row now. Starting in 1959, however, was the first in a long-running tradition of SEC teams ending the season with one loss apiece thanks to eliminating each other in the grueling competition.
 

selmaborntidefan

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1959 AP FINAL POLL
National champion: Syracuse 10-0
Unbeaten teams: unranked Bowling Green 9-0


As far as the top of the poll, this one is pretty easy. When you have one unbeaten team and their star wins the Heisman - Ernie Davis becoming the first African-American winner of the award - there isn't much else to say except maybe mock Ole Miss for watching Billy Cannon (along with the thousands of spectators) tear their national title away from them on Halloween night.

The Big Ten had a down year in 1959 as 7-3 Wisconsin won the conference championship. Their getting plastered by Washington, 44-8, in the Rose Bowl was the beginning of the momentum shift in conference perception - at least among the 5 or so pundits who actually paid attention to on-the-field results. The Big Ten won 12 of the first 13 games contested under the contract. Starting with Washington's win on the first day of the 1960s, the PCC/Pac 8/Pac 10 was about to go on a roll of their own, with the first 10 contests splitting 5-5. Starting in 1970, however, the West Coast would go on a 19-4 run of mostly forgettable games that were almost always upsets because, well, the East Coast guys never watched the changes going on across the continent. (There was also that little rejection of Alabama playing in the 1962 Rose Bowl which I'll cover shortly).

In the end, we have another consensus champion and no real debate. But a change is coming thanks in large part to Auburn's rules-abiding chicanery in 1957. Starting with the AP poll of 1960, the votes will be geographically divided EVENLY by section. In 1960, there will be 48 total voters in the poll, one for each state in the Union and not including the new admissions of 1959 (Alaska and Hawaii) just yet. This will be a good change, but it will also be predictable. This predictability will ultimately doom the poll to being just one small part of the BCS system although it will take nearly 40 years for the devolution to run full cycle.
 

selmaborntidefan

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1960 AP FINAL POLL
National champion: Minnesota 8-1
Undefeated teams with ties: #2 Ole Miss 9-0-1, #14 Yale 9-0, #17 New Mexico St 10-0
UPI champion: Minnesota

1) It was like deja vu all over again.....


For the ELEVENTH TIME in 25 years, an SEC team ran the table without a loss and did not win the national championship. Once again it was lost to a team from the Midwest - and this time the anger was palpable because at least in the other cases you had undefeated teams; this time you had what might have been the most insane vote in the entire history of the Associated Press poll, a bizarre series of (yet again) Big Ten bias that WITHOUT QUESTION cost Ole Miss the national championship.

Of course, even I will admit that Ole Miss didn't play all that taxing of a schedule. They beat Arkansas on the road (a top 10 team) and tied LSU, but they didn't face Florida, Auburn, or Alabama, the other 3 SEC teams ranked in the final poll. The tie with LSU hurt them because the Tiggahs fell off the cliff and went 5-4-1 after losing Billy Cannon to the AFL.

Ole Miss was undone by two things:
a) the admission of a number of sportswriters that under no circumstances would they rank teams/schools practicing segregation in the number one spot (more on this in the 1984 discussion of Florida)
b) a final AP poll that was, well, ridiculous.

Minnesota 17.5
Ole Miss 16
Iowa 12.5

Yes, folks, 12 voters and half a thirteenth (no doubt named Horatio with a nod towards the great Andy Griffith) voted for Iowa in the top spot. The same Iowa team that lost to Minnesota by 17 points when Iowa was ranked #1. (Whatever happened to "every game counts, head to head matters, and oh yeah, conference championships matter?" Any single moron who makes this argument - looking right at Joel Klatt, whom I respect, and Tim Brando, whom I don't - needs to turn in his card. This NEVER mattered to the voters, not in 1960 and not in 2020).

There is ZERO doubt the 12.5 voters who chose Iowa after a 17-point loss cost Ole Miss the national championship, although the Rebs won the FWAA title that year.

2) And then there's that post-bowl game thing...

As if that wasn't bad enough, Minnesota then lost the Rose Bowl to 10-1 Washington. Had the vote occurred after the bowl games, Ole Miss probably wouldn't have won that poll, either.

And the inclusion of 4-4-1 Purdue at the base of the top 20 seriously undermines the credibility of any poll you're wanting taken seriously, too.

3) Did the right team win the national championship?

Nope. Ole Miss in a vote poll, Washington in a post-bowl poll. Minnesota doesn't win either way, and the voters who chose Iowa really should have checked themselves into the nearest psych ward.

4) Interesting trivia that changed history.

After winning nothing in 1960 but almost winning the title, Iowa opted out of a scheduled 1966 game with Notre Dame. That opt out set up the infamous "Tie one for the Gipper" game between Notre Dame and Michigan State, which is also the college football version of the 1958 NFL overtime game and is generally considered the one that put the sport on the national map.

In essence, Iowa screwed the SEC twice, Ole Miss in 1960 and Alabama in 1966. I'm obviously exaggerating but they make good corn.
 

NoNC4Tubs

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This will delve both into HISTORY as well as into THEORY.

Years ago, I made it one of my missions in (sports) life to be informed on this subject because I noticed what seemed to be an unusually large number of folks authoring online pieces (blogs maybe in some cases) that trashed Alabama's national championships and necessarily "reduced" what they deemed to be "legitimate championships." I also noticed a tendency of fanbases to recite "facts" almost as mantras to make their cases.

Auburn fans had a near consensus (most of them prior to 2010) that "until there's a playoff, there's no such thing as a national champion" (YES, there were exceptions). An easy way to reduce your main rival's demonstrated on-the-field accomplishments.
I noticed that as well. Have you noticed how many bloggers (and former bloggers becoming Media - no names mentioned) that have awbern ties? :cool:
 

selmaborntidefan

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1961 AP FINAL POLL
National champion: Alabama 10-0
Undefeated teams with ties: #2 Ohio St 8-0-1, #10 Utah State 9-0-1
UPI champion: Alabama

1) November 20, 1961


It is a day that will live in glory for Alabama fans for on that day - for the first time ever - Alabama stood at the summit of the Associated Press football poll. When TCU stunned Texas in Austin on November 18, Alabama moved to #1 with 39 of the possible 48 votes. But the Tide still nearly got tripped up by the AP poll as 11 SEC teams had previously. Ohio State ripped 6-2 Michigan by a 50-20 count, and even Alabama's thumping 34-0 win over Auburn nearly wasn't enough to bring home the championship. Yes, despite a blowout win, Alabama lost 1/3 of their first-place votes to Ohio State, who picked up an additional vote that gave Alabama a narrow 16-point win over the Buckeyes for the Tide's first AP national championship. The coaches poll (UPI) was also close, the Tide getting 18 of 35 votes to 15 for Ohio State and one each for Ole Miss and Big 8 champion Colorado.

2) November 20, 1961, Part 2

And then there was the problem of two Los Angeles-based sportswriters, Jim Murray and Melvin Durslag. On the very same day the Tide ascended to number one, Jim Murray wrote a hit piece for the Los Angeles times entitled "Bedsheets and Bama" that savaged the state up one side and down the other, in particular the Crimson Tide. You may read a transcript of Murray's original article at:


Murray, basically a Howard Cosell of newspapers (and quite frankly, I always thought both of those blowhards were overrated, but I digress) inserted himself into the story by demanding a quote from Coach Bryant regarding what Murray said was "an announcement" out of UCLA that their black players would not take the field to play against Alabama. Bryant gave a politically correct response, and Murray ripped him in print. Never mind that in his emotion, Murray contradicted himself numerous times.

Durslag's column actually preceded Murray's. I'll touch on it below when I describe the amusing saga of "who wants to go to a bowl game?"

3) Ever Heard of Novice Fawcett? The President, Not The Sink......

Remember the 1985 Survivor hit, "The Search Is Over," about a guy and a girl who are just friends then lo and behold discover they belong together? This is a common theme - someone will propose an idea that people think is insane (like Fred Smith saying, "We should create overnight delivery"), and someone eventually decides to try it.

In 1961, THE Ohio State University was at a crisis point or at least so they thought. The Ivy League was beginning to de-emphasize football and focus more on academics. And a debate on the campus of THE Ohio State University took center stage as the school contemplated the role of football in its future. When the Buckeyes won the Big Ten title, the crisis point could be ignored no more. A faculty commission voted 28-25 for Ohio State to NOT compete in the 1962 Rose Bowl, citing concerns that the football tail was wagging the dog of the school. It was then that Novice Fawcett, the school President proposed what for the time was something as radical as tearing the mattress tag off - why not have a four-team playoff that could be held each of the two consecutive Saturdays after the end of the regular season and forget the bowl games? Fawcett cited academics among his arguments, noting that playing bowl games as the quarter was changing created unique problems and was a major reason Ohio State was inclined to vote AGAINST renewing the Rose Bowl contract.

It is quite possible that if the NCAA and the other schools had listened to Dr. Fawcett before widespread television made bowl games a part of American life, a playoff might have taken hold some 60 years ago (and Alabama would have 39 national titles instead).

4) Alabama, Ohio State, LSU, Minnesota - the four team standoff

So it began with the fact the Big Ten contract with the AAWU (now the Pac 12) and the Rose Bowl had expired. And it also happened that the 1962 Rose Bowl would be the first telecast in color. Whatever it was, a large contingent of Southern California sportswriters implored the Rose Bowl to bypass the Big Ten and invite Alabama to play in the big game. This invitation set off the alarm bells of Los Angeles columnist Melvin Durslag, who blew a gasket on two points. His first was that the contract should be renewed with the Big Ten (probably because Durslag was from Chicago). His second - I repeat HIS WORDS were that this was the second - you shouldn't be bringing segregated football teams to play in the Rose Bowl. Bear in mind that the bowl games were already having some major problems before Durslag and Murray opined about it.

To get the right picture, you have to remember some key points:
- there were no bowl contracts obligating teams to certain destinations (with the expiration of the Rose)
- the Big Ten and AAWU had "no repeat clauses" in their contract in order to spread the wealth
- the Big Ten and AAWU didn't allow their teams to play in other bowl games
- Louisiana had a law on their books forbidding integrated sporting evens inside the state (though this law had been overturned by the Supreme Court, it was now said to be merely a "custom"
- the AAWU wanted someone other than a Big Ten team in the Rose Bowl
- there were only 11 bowl games

So the bowls began jockeying for position, and every bowl and every team eligible had problems.

The Rose Bowl WANTED either Alabama or LSU. The latter presented a peculiar problem because LSU had refused to play in the lead-in tournament to the College World Series just months earlier because other teams had black players. Complicating the matter was the fact LSU was tired of just going down the road an hour or so to play the Sugar Bowl. In an effort to get the Rose Bowl invitation, LSU publicly announced they would not play in the Sugar Bowl under any circumstances.

And pandemonimum set in from coast to coast.

Ohio State voted to not go, which left Minnesota as the "next man up." The Orange Bowl got terrified they were going to be left without a team, so they grabbed Colorado quickly. Oh, and LSU as well. The bad press towards Alabama led to another all-Southern Sugar Bowl, with the Tide taking down Arkansas. Ole Miss went to the Cotton Bowl and took on the same Texas team with 3 losses in 4 years to TCU.

5) But did the right team win the national championship?

Yes, they did. This was another no-brainer, the only unbelievable aspect coming with the large contingent of voters for Ohio State. I'm sorry, but when you TIE a 3-5-2 club AT HOME and another big name is undefeated, you don't win national championships, period. It was only as close as it was because a number of voters who could without conscience vote for teams on probation (and thus reward known cheaters) couldn't vote for a team from a place where segregation was practiced even if the players themselves didn't cause the policies. Rutgers, the other unbeaten, announced early they would not play in any bowl games.
 

selmaborntidefan

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1962 AP FINAL POLL
National champion: USC 10-0
Undefeated teams: #2 Ole Miss 9-0
Undefeated teams with ties: #4 Texas 9-0-1
UPI champion: USC

1) This poll should remind everyone that assuming you "hold your position" always was a fraud.


So Alabama returns some stars from a national championship team. So impressed is the AP in the pre-season poll that the Tide starts at number 3, behind #1 Ohio State and #2 Texas. One has to wonder whether Jim Murray went on the same rant against Texas he felt obliged to make against Alabama. He didn't, of course, but they never do, and the evidence compiled will prove it.

Ohio State began the year on top, but Woody Hayes's monster wasn't up to his usual standard, either. Alabama opened the season in a game that would be long remembered well after it was forgotten. The Tide opened against Georgia and routed them 35-0 in a game that virtually nobody would remember except for a rather famous lawsuit it inspired. So impressed were the pollsters that when the Buckeyes didn't play in week one, they scattered their votes and Alabama wound up back on top...for one week. Ohio St then routed North Carolina and regained the pole position. But 1962 is going to signal the beginning of an era of appreciated for West Coast football. UCLA beat Ohio State in the Coliseum, 9-7, and Ohio State dropped to ten, which was the bottom of the poll rankings in 1962. Alabama regained the top spot with Texas hot on their tails, mere points behind.

The Longhorns' win over Oklahoma convinced voters - well, some of them. Alabama whipped Houston that same day, but Texas took over the top spot despite having fewer first-place votes. This indicates a number of pollsters had Alabama third or lower on their ballots. When Texas wound up in a tie with Rice, it was Northwestern's turn at the top of the polls. The Wildcats had had a very good season, too. In fact, in the previous two games, they had beaten both Ohio State and Notre Dame, an accomplishment that made Northwestern head coach Ara Parseghian a desirable commodity for several schools. A blowout loss at Camp Randall to Wisconsin, though, shuffled the polls again, and Alabama was back on top. But all of a sudden - for maybe the first time ever - a West Coast team was hot on the heels of the top of the AP poll. Perhaps it was still the basic boycott of sportswriters against segregated schools, but Alabama was only five first-place votes ahead of USC as they entered the home stretch. But four Joe Namath interceptions were too much for the Tide to overcome as they narrowly lost to Georgia Tech, 7-6. A failed two-point conversion plus - and this is often forgotten - multiple failed drives after the missed conversion left the Tide on the losing side of the ledger for the first time in 26 games. With that loss, USC ascended to number one - but with unbeaten Ole Miss hot on the trail. When Ole Miss narrowly escaped 3-6 MSU with a 13-6 win, they dropped to third and Big Ten champion (with one loss) Wisconsin rose to the number two spot. Although the 1963 Rose Bowl - won by USC - was not taken into account, the season ended with a 1-2 finish for the Rose Bowl foes, the first 1 vs 2 college football game since Army and Notre Dame tied in 1946.

Alabama actually fell from the top spot twice in the same season without losing. Ohio State did it once. Why people think a ranking is safe or "used to be" is a mystery to anyone who studies polls.

2) Was Ole Miss robbed and was it segregation?

The answers are "yes" and "probably but maybe not."

You have to remember that in September 1962, the Ole Miss campus broke out in riots when the first black student, James Meredith, was admitted to the school. This could not have helped the case for the Rebels. But a comparison of the respective schedules shows that in the absence of any head-to-head competition, the edge should have been with Ole Miss. One can complain that they didn't play Alabama, but Ole Miss WAS, in fact, the only team ranked that beat TWO of the teams in the top ten. But is there another reason - minus segregation - that might have made USC the champions? In fact, there is.

As a reminder, we continue to observe case after case of anti-Southern bias. Again, NOT EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE is necessarily the wrong conclusion. But USC had three things going for them in 1962:
a) they beat two Big Ten teams
b) they beat Notre Dame
c) UCLA, whom USC also beat, knocked off #1 Ohio State

In fact, in 1962 there was a paradigm shift. Prior to that year, the Big Ten had absolutely owned the AAWU/PCC/Pac8/10/12/Whatever. Only one previous time - in 1952 - did the conferences play multiple games against each other and the Pac 10 survive with a substantial winning record. But in 1962, the unthinkable happened - the two conferences played each other no less than 8 times - and the Big Ten did not win a single game, ending the year with 7 losses and 1 tie. SEVEN of these results were known when the final balloting took place, the USC-Wisky Rose Bowl the sole exception. And it was top to bottom in both conferences. Stanford, Washington, UCLA, USC, AND Wazzu ALL beat Big Ten teams, including Ohio St and Iowa, a contender in recent years.

I'm not saying the "I can't vote for a segregated state team" didn't play a role. But here's the egregious part: Ole Miss got ONLY TWO FIRST-PLACE VOTES in the final balloting. Two. Alabama, who had a loss, got one. Ole Miss thus got in line with all of the other SEC teams since 1938 - 12 total, including Ole Miss twice - who ran the table and then ran into the pollsters. But at least in 1960 the Rebs had a tie so it could to some degree be justified. Alabama had very nearly lost the previous year as well. In fact, had Auburn not stuffed the ballot box in 1957, there is every reason to believe that neither they nor LSU would have titles, either. It's almost like a variation of the old prejudiced sign, "No SEC Teams Need Apply." I reiterate - I'm not arguing the SEC team should have won ALL of those titles but a small portion of them would have been reasonable, would it not? Yet in EVERY SINGLE CASE except multiple contenders splitting the vote (1951) and ballot stuffing (1957), the SEC lost every single time prior to 1958 and very nearly lost again in 1961. (Does anyone here really believe that if Ohio St had beaten TCU that Alabama wins the 1961 title?)

It was getting old. Not only that, so were the hypocritical complaints:

- Ole Miss and Alabama don't play each other (but Maryland didn't play the other good team, Duke, in the ACC in 1953; Ohio State didn't play Michigan St in 1957; Minnesota skipped BOTH Ohio St AND Michigan St in 1960 and won the title with a loss).

- all-white teams shouldn't be considered for the national championship (it's truly amazing that this didn't matter until it was Alabama in 1961; it didn't even matter when Texas was on top earlier that same year. Hell, Notre Dame won 3 AP national championships with teams whiter than a Klansman's sheet and nobody gave a damn)

- bowl games should be included in the final poll because those SEC teams keep losing the bowls against good teams (this one would come back to bite everyone in the ass the moment they tried it).

3) Did the right team win the national championship?

No, but this one was not an egregious selection, either. USC was undefeated and they were a very good team. What should have happened given what we'd seen the previous decade was a split title at worst, Ole Miss winning one and USC the other. It might be best to summarize this one as "the right team may not have won but neither did the wrong team."

But the SEC was about to break the lock forever, too. With the size of the voters drastically reduced AND geographically diverse, the Southern United States was about to administer some temporary payback using the same tactics - block voting - that had kept them from winning titles for most of the AP poll era. And it was the genius of Paul Bryant that enabled Alabama to benefit from continually changing circumstances.
 
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selmaborntidefan

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1963 AP FINAL POLL
National champion: Texas 10-0
Undefeated teams with ties: #7 Ole Miss 7-0-2
UPI champion: Texas

1) Another SEC team ran the table and didn't win the national championship.....


In fact, they weren't even the highest-rated SEC team despite the fact they had a 20-game unbeaten streak. Ole Miss (once again!) ran the table undefeated and wound up seventh in the top ten, lower even than SEC non-champion Auburn. But Ole Miss did not really deserve any consideration this year, either, so this is not a case of pure anti-Southern bias, particularly when you remember that Texas was voting the national champions less than two weeks after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, and the entire nation was blaming the city and state.

But once again, a Southern-based team polling well LOST VOTES in the final poll. When Texas beat Oklahoma to rise to #1 in October, they had 51 first-place votes. Their support gradually dropped until the final poll, when they carried 34 to the ten votes given second-place (and 9-1) Navy, led by Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach.

2) The Big Ten, once again, had a champion that didn't beat EITHER Michigan or Ohio State, and it didn't matter.

The Illinois defense was led by Dick Butkus, the the Big Ten AS A WHOLE was rather mediocre in 1963. Only two teams, Illinois and Michigan State, won more than five games. The Illini netted a tie with Ohio State and a loss to Michigan - one that probably cost them the national championship given the voting proclivities of the AP poll - and won the Rose Bowl. The SEC landed 3 teams in the top ten; the problem for Ole Miss was that they didn't play either one of them in the regular season. Auburn's narrow win over Alabama was enough to boost the Tigers to a #5 final placement. You had the round-robin series of defeats: Ole Miss tied with Mississippi State who lost to Alabama who lost to Auburn who lost to Mississippi State who lost to OOC foe Memphis (9-0-1 Memphis mind you) who tied Ole Miss.

New Orleans, home of the Segregation Sugar Bowl, saw Alabama beat Ole Miss and put an end to any future claims to rational people about how "we wuz robbed in 63, too!".

3) Amazingly enough, yet another all-white team won the national championship without much ruckus.

Two years after Alabama was being blistered by the national news media and denied a shot in the Rose Bowl, Texas floated above it all and won. Which begs the question.....

4) Did the right team win the national championship?
Despite the controversies engendered by a number of these polls, this one was easy on all levels. Texas won both voter polls. They then beat Navy head-to-head by the indisputable victor score of 28-6. A four-team playoff would have given:

Texas
Navy
Illinois
A fourth team chosen from Pitt, Auburn, Nebraska, or Ole Miss

I honestly doubt any team but Texas emerges with that title, either. The right team won the vote and validated it in the bowl game. And that sets the stage for yet another controversy involving Alabama in 1964.
 

selmaborntidefan

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1964 AP FINAL POLL
National champion: Alabama 10-0
Undefeated teams: #2 Arkansas 10-0
UPI champion: Alabama

1) Rod Sherman handed Alabama the national championship on a silver platter


With 103 seconds remaining in the game, USC faced a fourth down at the Notre Dame 15. They converted it for a touchdown to knock off #1 Notre Dame and award the national championship to Alabama, the Tide's second in four years. Or so it seemed.

2) Anti-Alabama feelings generate a nonexistent poll controversy

Alabama faced off with 1963 champion Texas in the Orange Bowl and an all-time classic unfolded. Texas prevailed, 21-17, in the first-ever national telecast of a prime time college football game in the US. Forty million people (in a nation of 191 million) saw the game. Texas won and that should have been that. Except it wasn't.

You'll have to pardon us Alabama fans. Yes, there IS a Southern inferiority complex in this country that leads to some phony machismo on behalf of our less enlightened citizenry. But for Pete's sake, you're gonna have to pardon us for thinking there's some sort of anti-Alabama feeling to all of this.

- Tide wins its first AP poll and is headed for the Rose Bowl but gets undone by arguments that could have been used for damn near every national champion of the past regarding all-white teams. Alabama is in position and the rules suddenly change.

- Tide becomes one of the rare SEC teams to win it all in 1964, finally getting some luck, and the after effect is to say Alabama isn't a deserving champion because - like 1950 Oklahoma, 1951 Tennessee, and 1953 Maryland - the Tide lost their bowl game. Because of this manufactured controversy that existed only in the brains of some dumb people, Alabama is in position and the rules suddenly change.

- Alabama wins under the new rules - and the rules suddenly change.

- Alabama wins a UPI title and loses the bowl game to Notre Dame JUST LIKE Texas did three years earlier - and the rules suddenly change

- Alabama wins a BCS national title without winning their conference (you know, like 2001 Nebraska and 2003 Oklahoma didn't) - and once again the rules change.

- Alabama wins the Covid-19 title. Lakers? What courage, Kobe et al! Dodgers? What great courage! Alabama? Well, this season has an asterisk (yeah because Alabama only played HALF the games their opponent at the end did, right???)

Anyone noticing a pattern here....

Now, of course, the BCS change didn't really have anything to do with Alabama so much as it had to do with Congress. But the timing of these things sure is amusing to say the least.

But ask yourself this question as a non-partisan: "What was the ACTUAL controversy?" Well, the controversy arose when Arkansas Coach Frank Broyles began campaigning for the Grantland Rice trophy as a national title after Arkansas came from behind to beat Nebraska by 3 points by scoring their only TD with less than 5 minutes left in a 10-7 win. Of course, 6-4-1 Oklahoma had a much easier time with Nebraska, which begs the question of how good you have to be to struggle against such a team, but none of this mattered. Broyles opted to say that his team's win along with Alabama's lost "makes us the only major undefeated, untied team in the country," followed by a begging for the trophy. Of course, Broyles ignored the fact Princeton - who can surely be said to be a major team since they only played in the first college football game ever - was also unbeaten and untied. I'm not going to argue for Princeton because that would be almost as ludicrous as arguing for Arkansas. But why did this controversy happen?

Well, part of it, of course, is because the game with Texas was televised and people SAW the national champions lose. The details get lost

3) If this were today, Alabama wouldn't win the national title.

Well, okay, I'll accept that if you assume that we had nothing but the results of the games, you might be right.

then again...

- no potential national title game today would be played with a split officiating crew of the two conferences in the game (it's likely no accident it was a SWC official that called it a non-touchdown)
- replay today would tell us conclusively if Namath was in the end zone or not with possession (and the answer to THAT question would determine the outcome)
- Arkansas and Alabama in different conferences would meet either in a head-to-head contest (BCS) or in a playoff that might allow them to meet (CFP), and the real controversy would be which team was passed over to let someone else in the playoff
- Arkansas would get killed by Alabama in September or October and be home watching the good teams play in the late games as has happened every year since 2008

4) Almost everyone gets the entire scenario with Namath's touchdown wrong

For some reason, too many folks think that the play was in the waning moments of the game and Namath was denied on the final play. In reality, Alabama got another possession - and Namath threw an interception. That fact alone undercuts a large portion of the pro-Alabama argument because if Namath scores, Texas has time to tie or win, and their entire strategy and play calling is different.

5) Did the right team win the national championship?

Of course they did, and anyone who says otherwise is probably a fan or Arkansas or Auburn, a Yankee, or a combination of those. What's funny is that the entire scenario presented is completely wrong - when in CFB history was the transitive property EVER permitted in an argument? "Arkansas beat Texas who beat Alabama, therefore" is the prattle of creative thinkers, not logical ones. Simply look at the cases we've already covered:

1936 - Minnesota loses to Northwestern, has the same record, wins the title
Now isn't this WORSE than this whole ménage a football trois?

1942 - Ohio State loses to Wisconsin, who is 1/2 game worse, but the tie is to #6 Notre Dame

1943 - Notre Dame loses to Great Lakes Navy who loses to UNDEFEATED Purdue
(Again - isn't this the EXACT SAME THING as 1964? Wasn't Purdue the "only major undefeated and untied team" after the Irish lost to a team Purdue beat?)

1950 - Oklahoma is 10-1 and loses to 11-1 Kentucky; isn't Kentucky now the champion?

1951 - Tennessee loses to Maryland, who is 10-0. Isn't Maryland now the champion?

1953 - Maryland loses to Oklahoma who lost to Notre Dame.
(Again - isn't this EXACTLY like 1964? Ok, the Irish have a tie, but they're undefeated).

1960 - Minnesota loses the Rose Bowl to 9-1 Washington; don't they now lose the trophy?

What's amazing is how few people ever know these historical instances when you point them out.

So ask yourself what was the controversy? Alabama was voted the champion the first week of December. The bowl games weren't played until January. It's pretty hard to have any sort of controversy over something decided a month earlier unless someone pretends that's an actual reality. But the ensuing controversy would change college football for the better in both near and far terms, too.
 
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selmaborntidefan

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6) Alabama passively won the national championship and ONLY because Notre Dame crumbled.

There's a bit of an amusing conclusion that would have occurred had Notre Dame not blown a 17-0 halftime lead against USC: not only would the Irish have won the national title but NOBODY would have dared suggest that ARKANSAS was some sort of co-champion after Notre Dame didn't play in a bowl game but Arkansas did.

7) The controversy created something entirely new in college football for 1965: winner-take-all football games.

Because bowl games were not used to determine champions, this concept had never "really" existed before in the entire history of college football. That's not to say winning wasn't important as it obviously was. But not even achieving bowl berths was determined AT THIS TIME by winner-take-all games thanks to the "no repeat" rules, teams that eschewed bowl games (Notre Dame, Big Ten and AAWU EXCEPT for the Rose), and conference votes that determined the representative at a particular game.

8) A confluence of events was about to make the national championship much more important than ever before.

A few years ago on the 60th anniversary of Auburn's 1957 title, one of the players was quoted as saying that when the Tigers won the 1957 AP national championship, "Nobody really made that big of a deal about it." That's not LITERALLY true, of course (few things are); after all, Auburn worked the phones like Jerry Maguire to try and get votes. But there weren't rings and parades and Auburn was the first team to actually have the AP trophy, but it wasn't like when Dallas won the 1999 Stanley Cup and fans made visits to actually see the trophy. By February 1965, however, the state of Arkansas was shutting down for an entire day to celebrate the FWAA national championship and to hold ceremonies celebrating the accomplishment. There were several factors that caused this:

- the large audience for the prime time 1965 Orange Bowl
- which, of course, was the rapidly expanding influence of television at work
- the generated controversy over the "undeserved championship"
- the willingness of the AP to move the 1965 vote to after the bowl games (which would be ironic)
- the expansion of civil rights in the Southern United States which led to...
- baseball and football sensing an untapped audience and the arrival of the Braves and Falcons in 1966
- the Game of the Century between Michigan State and Notre Dame and the..
- subsequent controversy

Let's be honest: without a national championship hanging in the balance, whom exactly outside of Michigan and the Notre Dame Cult even gives a damn if that game ends in a tie? If both teams were 7-2, nobody would have cared other than MAYBE the fanbases.

Prior to this time, national championships were on the periphery of national interest. In a sense, they were like one of those old pro wrestling championships - they meant a lot to the fans but the OWNERS of those never really cared one way or the other. As Ron Garvin, a short-reigning and largely forgettable NWA champion observed, the value in being champion was you got the payday. Nobody actually cared about the prop other than the fans.

That was about to change and quickly.
 

selmaborntidefan

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1965 AP FINAL POLL
National champion: Alabama 9-1-1
Undefeated teams: none
UPI champion: Michigan State

1) Be careful what you wish for - you may just get it


The 30th version of the AP national champion went off completely different than the previous 29 to the ultimate chagrin of the advocates. Had they simply been able to accept what had already occurred four previous times in a six-year span or so, Michigan State's fully integrated squad of the mid-60s MIGHT rank as one of the great teams of all-time. What happened instead was an absolute train wreck that left the country with multiple national champions, a rapidly developing controversy, and the kind of thing that would happen over and over again: instead of defending the system, college football collectively attempted to remedy "wrongs" that weren't wrongs in the first place. The most obvious example was when the BCS over-reacted to the multiple champions made possible by the AP poll in 2003, which was another example of 1964-65 happening all over again.

The writers complained about how Alabama won a national championship, changed the rules, and damned if Alabama didn't win another national championship due to the change. Astute observers, which few personalities not named Herbstreit truly are, would have simply pointed out that there was nothing egregious about Alabama in 1964 and left it alone. (I mean, it's not like Arkansas was a Big Ten team or Notre Dame, right?)

2) What EXACTLY happened?

It was the biggest single day of upsets in the history of college football to that point, maybe ever.

Unbeaten #1 - lost.
Unbeaten #2 - lost.
Unbeaten #3 - lost.

So many people get the details wrong that it isn't even amusing. Like those constant myths about "throw out the records in the Iron Bowl" or "no player with a fake girlfriend has ever almost won the Heisman", the years have colored what precisely occurred in 1965 much as they mislead people who think Joe Namath's goal-line plunge was the last play of the game or that Ara Parseghian playing for a tie cost Alabama the 1966 title (which is the next segment).

The 1965 season began with two heavy favorites, Nebraska and Texas being favored to win it all. But one week into the season and Notre Dame rose quickly to the top despite the fact Nebraska won. But an Irish loss to Purdue shuffled Texas to the #1 spot. Texas then lost to Arkansas's Delusions of Grandeur yet again, so as a reward to them for running up a 17-game winning streak at the time, Arkansas was #1. The very next week the Hawgs sandblasted NTSC (now UNT), 55-20, and fell victim once again to "undefeated Big Ten team gets national championship regardless" as Michigan St edged past a good Purdue team, 14-10, and took over despite Arkansas having 4 more first-place votes. Sparty held serve and ran the table, finishing their regular season in the top spot with 35 first-place votes. Poor Arkansas was screwed again.

Except this year they weren't. Once again, a Northern team had taken over the pole position from a team in the South that had run the table, something as predictable as Kirby Smart having a lousy haircut. Had pundits not apparently had it in for Alabama in 1964, Arkansas could have joined the long and distinguished list of "no Southern teams need apply." But thanks to the manufactured outrage and controversy, Michigan State had to go play UCLA in the Rose Bowl, which wouldn't have been so bad except Michigan State had already beaten UCLA in the season opener in East Lansing.

Michigan State DID win the UPI (coach's) national championship and rightly so, putting together a solid campaign on both offense and defense. Just because voters are BIASED does NOT NECESSARILY make them wrong. In this case, the coaches were impressed with Duffy Daugherty's crew, and Sparty carried 28 of the 35 votes with two undefeateds - Arkansas and Nebraska - splitting the other votes, 5-2. But unlike years past, Arkansas and Nebraska suddenly had hope: win your bowl game and hope the other teams lose and claim an AP national title.

Michigan State cooperated, dropping a close 14-12 decision to eventual Heisman winner Gary Beban. Arkansas, whose big snout had caused a lot of the problem, proceeded to demonstrate that when the games actually counted, they could be counted on to wind up as bacon on the platter, losing to LSU, 14-7, in the Cotton Bowl. And that left college football with a prime time national championship game in the Orange Bowl, the first time any such game had ever been held. Well, maybe. It featured unbeaten Nebraska against 8-1-1 Alabama, the defending champs who had lost the opener to Georgia on a controversial flea flicker play and had been below the radar all season long. Alabama so unimpressed the coaches voting that they didn't get a single first-place vote in the final poll, but this is to be expected. Nobody goes by head-to-head results and accomplishment more than coaches, and with three unbeaten teams, there were no votes left for Alabama anyway. (It would have been quite interesting to see a post-bowl game coaches vote).

Alabama and Nebraska played another instant classic, a circumstance that benefited Alabama as a team that brought viewers to the television and didn't always lose the big game. The Tide pumped in 39 points and walked away with the AP national title, jumping from a single vote in the last regular season poll to 37 in the final tally. Sparty got 18, likely with the argument "but they already beat UCLA". Despite losing the bowl game, Arkansas actually got a first-place vote, too, as did UCLA. But thanks to a complaint that contradicted 29 previous polls, Paul Bryant became only the fifth coach of the poll era to win consecutive national championships.

Michigan State co-captain Don Japinga stated that the long layoff between the end of the regular season and the bowl games hurt Sparty, but he also noted Michigan had had the same layoff the previous year and won so it wasn't really an acceptable excuse. UCLA's Tommy Prothro said he thought Michigan St was still the best team in the country, using the standard argument that a championship is for a "season" and "not just one game." Japinga also noted the distractions from the media declaring them "Superman" and "the greatest team ever" may have contributed to the final result. Arkansas may have lost due to stories that LSU was "an unworthy opponent" (and, of course, the fact that when it comes down to it, they're still Arkansas).

Paul Bryant had perhaps the best (and most ironic quote) of all regarding 1965: "I'm glad that the AP decided to include the bowl games. Otherwise, I would think that Michigan State would have deserved it."

3) Did the right team win the national championship?

It's probably fairer to ask under the asymmetrical circumstances, "Did the right TEAMS win the championship?"

Under the old setup, there is no doubt that Michigan State would have won both polls. Zero doubt. Now whether this is fair or not is another issue entirely, but there's no doubt what would have happened. You either count the bowl games or you don't, there is no in-between on that subject. Once the bowl games were part of the package as in 1965, the entire vote REALLY comes down to two teams, Alabama and Michigan State. A voter could reasonably have voted for Michigan State on the basis of the fact they HAD, in fact, already beaten UCLA. Such a vote, YES, would take the bowl game into account but not weigh it substantially heavier than any other game. What changed that entire outcome, though, was the fact there were THREE unbeaten teams, and the #4 team knocked one of them off. At that point, all four teams in the top four slots had one loss. Alabama did have a tie, yes, but it all depends on how much weight a tie puts on a team as opposed to a loss. The split national championship was absolutely the correct outcome, and it was an outcome that only happened because of an over-reaction. Ironically, if the bowl games had NOT been included then there would have been an even larger controversy - because how in the world can you YET AGAIN vote a Northern team on top once Arkansas completed a second straight unbeaten campaign? And what about Nebraska?

In the end, the voters weighed the tie in Alabama's favor. And in yet another twist of fate, Alabama was about to learn a painful lesson: what luck giveth, luck can taketh away - and on top of all that, use a tie to do it.
 
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selmaborntidefan

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1966 AP FINAL POLL
National champion: Notre Dame 9-0-1
Undefeated teams: #3 Alabama 10-0
Undefeated teams with ties:#2 Michigan St 9-0-1


Three years ago, I wrote a detailed article about Alabama's 1966 season that covered from the moment they found they were 1965 champions until the days after the 1967 Sugar Bowl. You can read that link below:


What I'm about to say isn't "The Gospel According To Alabama Fans" and isn't going to be popular, but it is going to reflect reality.

1) Another SEC team runs the table and sits at home uncrowned....

Alabama runs the table and sits home and watches not one but TWO Northern teams finish ahead of them in the standings. Alabama becomes no less than the FIFTEENTH SEC team to end the season with 0 losses (and 11th without ties) to be standing around at the end of the season looking up at another team in the top position (and virtually always from the Midwest). Entire books have been written about this one season, but I think a lot of Alabama fans (with all due respect as I AM one) sort of miss the reality train on this one. Hopefully, I will still be permitted to post here after completing the assessment.

2) Alabama - many flawed presuppositions

It causes TO THIS DAY no end of pain for a generation of Tide fans who lived through it. But the years have again clouded the emotional reactions with flat-out myth. Let's examine a few of those, which is not going to be pleasant for a number of fans. I covered some of this in my write-up above.

a) Notre Dame DID NOT "play for a tie" - not in the literal sense anyway.

Much of the ruckuks surrounding the "Tie one for the Gipper" concept can be laid at the feet of "Sports Illustrated" writer Dan Jenkins, who tore into Ara Parseghian and forever made the story "Notre Dame played for the tie." In fact, this is not "really" what happened. Michigan St tore out to a 10-0 lead, and Notre Dame, wounded by the loss of six players (much of it due to the sheer brutality of the Michigan St defense), came back. Then - and this is key to understanding what actually happened - Notre Dame attempted a 41-yard field goal that was barely wide right with 4:39 left in the game. If that field goal is good, the Irish have the lead. That hardly constitutes "playing for tie", at least in the traditional sense. It's not as though Notre Dame tied the game and then sat on the ball for a quarter and didn't even try to move. The largest criticism stems from Notre Dame's final possession where the Irish didn't heave a bomb downfield in an effort to win. But passing games in 1966 were not as sophisticated as they are today, and the coverage rules favored the DEFENSE as pass interference had to be seriously egregious in order to be called. Parseghian is correct for noting that he "did not play for a tie, the game ended in a tie." So what went wrong for Notre Dame?

Parseghian lost the battle early in one area he could control (his response) and one he could not (the media spin), and both were facilitated by the same group of people. When Parseghian REPEATEDLY said during interviews after the game that it was important to NOT LOSE, he invited the spin/interpretation that followed him to his grave. Like a lot of coaches after an emotional game, it was probably not the place to be answering questions, and Parseghian was in conflict of trying not to sound like he was making excuses with references to his backup QB who was diabetic (and had misfired on six consecutive passes, sometimes so erratically they were considering removing him from the game), so he went with defending conservative actions. In the rigid, literal sense, Ara did NOT play for a tie; in the abstract sense, however, it is true he did play to NOT lose, too. And as even Bubba Smith noted, Ara was the one guy who headed the one team in America who could do that and get away with it. It is this last that is the source of soreness for Alabama fans.

Incidentally, in addition to Jenkins, it was good ole Jim Murray who lambasted Notre Dame much as he savaged Alabama in 1961.

b) Alabama did NOT lose the national championship because of George Wallace

This is the central theme pushed by Keith Dunnavant in his book, "The Missing Ring." The man has forgotten more Alabama football history than I will ever know, and I had a great conversation with him when he signed my copy of "Three Days at Foster" at the 2014 Florida game. I enjoy his insights, but he's (with all due respect) wrong on this one.

Late in the book, Keith repeatedly brings up Wallace. But anyone arguing that has to come up with a believable explanation for 1964 AND 1965. Wallace was the governor 1963-1967 and then installed his wife as a puppet to stay on as "the actual governor." It is illogical to my mind to somehow say that Wallace's 1962 "segregation forever" speech, his 1963 stand in the doorway, and things like the Sixteenth Street Church Bombing (1963) cost Alabama the 1966 title but not the 64 and 65 ones. Voters very easily could have chosen Arkansas over Alabama in the final poll of 1964. Yes, the integration of Central High in 1957 had been a bad visual (and other things) for the state, but Arkansas wasn't seen on the evening news knocking down protesters with fire hoses, either. In 1965, voters could easily have chosen Michigan State - whose record was better than Alabama's both on the field and sociologically - using the argument that Sparty had already beaten UCLA so the defeat was offset. Michigan St was the first real FULLY integrated program in college football (even most of the Northern not-all-white teams of the time had at most 4-5 black players you had to search to find in the team photo).

The idea that in 1966 voters said, "Well, NOW we are mad at George Wallace and Alabama is going to pay" is absurd. And what proves that? Well, Alabama finishd third in the COACHES poll in 1966, too. Okay, you can concoct a conspiracy theory for the writers...but the coaches????

c) no, just because you were the pre-season #1 doesn't mean anything.

It is amazing to me how many fans who were actually alive in 1966 will use this line of argument. "Well, we were two-time champions, and we started the season at #1 and we never lost." But Alabama had been #1 in October 1962, won their game against Houston, and dropped to #2 and then beat MSU, 20-0, and dropped to #3. Why would fans who were alive at the time think you stayed #1? Their more legitimate beef, however, was the post-game polling regarding the tie.

d) Alabama is perfectly justified in wondering about the fallout from the tie that never occurred.

In the above linked article, I did a study of ties going back to the first AP poll in 1936. In almost every single case, a tie HURT the higher-ranked team and HELPED the lower ranked one.

e) "But Coach Bryant said that was his best team!"

It again amazes me how many fans say this. YES, he DID say that - in 1966. He said something completely different in 1979 when he was campaigning for that title, too, but nobody wants to talk about that. I'm not saying Coach Bryant was lying but let's be honest - no coach ever was better at poor-mouthing his team to get them motivated and no coach ever was more of a political master games player with bowls and polls than Paul Bryant was. He did say the 66 team was his best, but he said his 79 team was his best, too. Let's not take true anecdotes as arguments for who or why

3) As noted in the article, once Michigan State and Notre Dame reached November 19 unblemished, a TIE was the BEST POSSIBLE RESULT Alabama could hope for.

Remember this: a victor in that game whether Michigan St or Notre Dame ends the argument, and the winner is the national champion. Alabama and Nebraska (undefeated until the following week) NEEDED a tie once the kickoff for that game arrived. And it's VERY HARD to argue that Alabama or Michigan St or Notre Dame should have been ranked on the top of the polls. All 3 were very good teams, and this often gets lost in the outrage.
 

selmaborntidefan

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4) Did the right team win the national championship?

In all honesty, this question CANNOT and CAN NEVER be answered for 1966. The partisans will always have their points, and I'm no different. But 1966 was one of those years that pop up every so often in college football where the season ends, but you're still not thoroughly convinced. Look at the final poll:

1) Notre Dame 9-0-1
2) Michigan St 9-0-1
3) Alabama 10-0
4) Georgia 9-1
5) UCLA 9-1
6) Nebraska 9-1
7) Purdue 8-2
8) Georgia Tech 9-1
9) Miami 7-2-1

I think we can ALL AGREE on the FIRST THREE teams for a four-team playoff. But how in the hell do you decide which team is fourth?

Georgia's one loss is to Miami who lost to LSU who lost to Alabama.
UCLA - in 1966 - had a bigger rep than Nebraska with one loss to 6-4 Washington.
Nebraska has one loss in their final game by one point to 6-4 Oklahoma.

Purdue is like 2011 Arkansas; they have TWO LOSSES...to the top two teams in the rankings.

Can you REALLY pick Georgia Tech with the same record over Georgia, who beat the Jackets??

I can't even tell you for sure which team would be chosen. I lean towards Nebraska, but I don't know.

5) College football remains in equilibirum

Bizarrely enough, what PROBABLY should have happened was this:

1964 - Notre Dame
1965 - Michigan St
1966 - Alabama

If the Irish simply hold on a fourth down in 1964 against USC, they're the champions and Alabama STILL has an unbeaten season we can muse about. If the Irish win, the bowls aren't included in 65 and MSU wins.

6) Michigan State proposed a playoff

Remember my earlier mention of Dr. Fawcett at Ohio State in 1961? In October 1966, Michigan State Coach Duffy Daugherty drew up an 8-team playoff that would have consisted of the six major conference champions and two at-large bids. In response to "the kids miss class", Daughtery argued that fewer players would miss class if you ran the playoff immediately at the end of the regular season and abolished the bowl games.

But television was growing fast and now - ironically - thanks to what happened when Notre Dame played Michigan State on November 19, 1966, the college football game would become very valuable on television. By making the BOWL GAMES valuable as well, television was about to lock college football in a 30-year prison cell that would result in more disputed championships and raise a ton of money for TV, bowl cities, and colleges. We are now entering that era of poll examination.
 
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selmaborntidefan

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1967 AP FINAL POLL
National champion: USC
UPI champion:USC

1) The easiest way to win a national championship - the Big Ten and Notre Dame eliminate themselves.


Or more precisely in this case, USC eliminates Notre Dame by handing the Irish their SECOND loss of a young campaign. Think about this: in 1967, Michigan and Michigan St both had losing records while Ohio State dropped to 7-3. The top two teams in the conference were Purdue, led by Bob Griese, and Indiana. But the axis is about to tilt over - nobody other than Michigan or Ohio State is going to win the Big Ten every single year from 1968-1980.

2) West Coast football is coming to life.

Once again it's television. Now fans can see the colorful uniforms of USC and UCLA as they play late afternoon games telecast nationally. The superstar of the time is USC"s OJ Simpson, a slashing-style runner who goes right for the jugular of the opponent as he quickly escapes pursuit of the men in blue (UCLA). But the Heisman winner is Gary Beban of UCLA. USC's sole defeat - at the hands of #7 Oregon State - is just a bump in the road on their way to the national championship.

3) Did the right team win the national championship?

Yes. Not much discussion needed. The Fall after the Summer of Love was a weird season that saw most of the old powers - including Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, and Nebraska struggle - but USC fills the void with clearly the best team in the USA.
 

selmaborntidefan

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1968 AP FINAL POLL
National champion: Ohio St 10-0
Unbeaten teams: #2 Penn St 11-0
UPI champion: Ohio St

1) Trivia question: which team won the first AP title in a split year with UPI, the last AP title awarded before the bowl games, the first upset in a BCS title game, and the first-ever CFP national championship?


The answer, of course, is Ohio State. Woody Hayes's last national title team was led by a group of recruits affectionately named the "Super Sophomores." Over the three years of 1968-1970, they would go 27-2, losing to Michigan in 1969 and the Jim Plunkett-led group from Stanford in 1970. Those two losses prevented a potential three-peat, but there's plenty of reason to believe 1968 Ohio St was Hayes's best NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP team.

2) Ohio State might NOT have been the best team but....

those things happen. There's a solid argument for Texas, who installed the wishbone prior to the season. After two scrapes that ended in a tie and a loss, Texas tore out on a 30-game winning streak that would net them titles in both 1969 and 1970. As was often said about the late 80s and early 90s Florida State, Texas was "playing the best ball of any team in the nation over the last six weeks." And just like FSU, Texas went home without a trophy because they didn't win all the games.

Ohio St, by contrast, did something that almost seems endemic to the brand: blow out the big names and scrape by the also-rans. Go look closely at Ohio State schedules - particularly in years they win the national title - and you'll notice this almost every time: the Buckeyes will lay the hammer on the VERY GOOD Big Ten teams (50-14 over Michigan in 1968, 59-0 over Wisky in 2014) but then either lose to a team that has no busines beating them or barely escape. A lot of teams follow this pattern, perhaps due to the level of emotion the game of football requires. But no team does this with a predictable consistency to the level Ohio St does and has for a long time.

3) Did the right team win the national championship?

Of course, and this one isn't even very close. YES, Coach Shower DID complete an undefeated regular season. But he didn't play anyone worth a damn, either. Penn State is about to embark on a 15-year journey into national recongition, but nobody knew who they were in 1968 (by comparison with the bigger names), and it's not as though they blasted a Notre Dame or someone of comparable perceived value.
 
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selmaborntidefan

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1969 AP FINAL POLL
National champion: #1 Texas 11-0
Unbeaten teams: #2 Penn St 11-0
Unbeaten teams with ties: #3 USC 10-0-1
UPI champion: Texas

1) And then there was that time the AP poll decided to include bowl games...


As bowl games evolved and television, too, the Associated Press bowed to the obvious and in 1969 - coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the first-ever college football game - the AP decided to hold the championship vote AFTER the bowl games had been played. This was smart on numerous levels, not the least being the requirement of an additional game for unbeaten teams would (in theory anyway) sometimes lower the number of undefeated teams and thus make champion selection easier and more valid in the eyes of the fans.

But what the AP couldn't fix was something else: the "no repeat rule" that was turning the Rose Bowl into an exericse in football socialism. Though well intentioned, this game alone could wreck the best-laid plans of the AP. After all, what if one undefeated team was in a Rose Bowl conference and got to stay home? Was it fair to punish that team? On the other hand, was it fair to punish teams that had to play extra games? In 1969, Ohio State made it easy by losing the finale to Michigan, ending a 22-game winning streak. USC's tie with Notre Dame meant that Texas' win over the Irish sealed the deal for the Longhorns, who became the last all-white team to win a national championship.

2) Did the right team win the national championship?

once again, the answer is yes. Penn State's coach was understandably perturbed, and he blamed President Nixon for the selection of Texas to the top spot after the Horns beat Arkansas in 1969's Game of the Century. The coach would later disparage Nixon by saying he failed to understand how the guy could know so little about Watergate and so much about college football. That's a fair question - just as fair as asking that coach how he could know everything going on on his campus EXCEPT the fact his defensive coordinator is raping young boys in the team shower stalls, too.

3) Stop me if you've heard this one before but...

USC lost their shot at a national title when they played to a tie with Notre Dame.
 

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1958 AP FINAL POLL
National champion: LSU 10-0
Undefeated teams with ties:#3 Army 8-0-1, #4 Auburn 9-0-1, #6 Air Force 9-0-1


In the 1958 pre-season poll, Auburn dropped all the way to fifth, behind three Northern teams and Oklahoma. An early tie with Georgia Tech was not considered a bad thing...until Tech imploded and wound up 5-4-1 on the year. Auburn completed a second straight unbeaten campaign, but the tie cost Auburn both the SEC and (probably) the national championship.

Ohio State was the pre-season #1, a reasonable choice. And in 1958, the Big Ten returned to its powerhouse ways. landing four teams in the top 13, including FWAA national champion Iowa. It's very possible the Hawkeyes might have overcome the late loss to the Buckeyes, but a tie with Air Force, unbeaten in only their third full season, hurt Iowa immensely. Four teams cycles through at number one until LSU reached the top after knocking off Florida on the day Army netted a 14-14 tie with Pitt.

LSU and Auburn were 1-2 in the next-to-last poll, and there is really no controversy to be had in 1958. Iowa's FWAA title was one of a pattern of questionable choices that the FWAA made back then that almost always saw them picked a Big Ten team with a lesser record over another national champion (as happened in 1961, when they chose Ohio State over Alabama).

Once again, a year of immense controversy is followed by a reasonable year of calm. The SEC had bagged two titles in a row now. Starting in 1959, however, was the first in a long-running tradition of SEC teams ending the season with one loss apiece thanks to eliminating each other in the grueling competition.
Ironically, Auburn was on "indefinite" probation and ineligible for a bowl, having been found guilty of paying two players $500 each (about $4500 in today's dollars)...
 
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selmaborntidefan

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1970 AP FINAL POLL
National champion: Nebraska 11-0-1
Undefeated teams with ties:#6 Arizona St 11-0, #12 Toledo 12-0, #14 Dartmouth 9-0
UPI Champion: Texas

1) Here come the train wrecks


As bad as the AP popularity contests were - constantly leaving no resolution to the season - television and bowl games were about to make it all worse. Back in those days before the ubiquitous phone and before Satan invented Stub Hub for digital tickets, games had to be set in stone early. This led to some rather obvious problems as bowl games could choose a team ranked on top in November only to see them lose before the season ended and devalue the worth of the game on television. With the AP using bowl games and the UPI refusing to use them, it was only a matter of time until a split national championship reared its ugly head. As it turned out, it took only two years.

In a twist of irony, Ohio State got a dose of SEC "you didn't do enough" medicine in the AP poll in 1970. Starting as the pre-season #1, the Buckeyes did nothing but win, and it still wasn't enough. Winning by an AVERAGE of 27 ppg as they ran out to 5-0, the polls actually dropped them behind Texas after the Horns thumped a mediocre Rice squad. To show how little reasoning went into this, Texas themselves dropped after a narrow win over Baylor, and Notre Dame shoved Texas into second and Ohio State into third. But a 58-0 pasting of a mediocre TCU team shuffled the Longhorns back to the top of the poll. Coming down the home stretch, college football had no less than four teams that were unbeaten: Texas, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Notre Dame, who fell after a narrow 3-0 win over #7 LSU. When USC did the world a favor and cleared out Notre Dame, there was a disaster in the making for football: THREE unbeaten teams, none of whom were going to play one another in the bowls. Potentially, three squads could wind up undefeated with only two polls to choose. And oh yeah, the UPI poll was issued before the bowls and entirely predictable: when you're the defending national champions who have won 30 games in a row, the coaches are NOT going to replace you with anyone else. So Texas was voted the national champions for the second year in a row. But then came the bowl games, and all they did was thoroughly complicate matters with the matchup but simplify the conclusion by the results.

Ohio State was both obligated and eligible for the Rose Bowl, but they lost to 8-3 Stanford by ten points, ending any claim to the title. Texas then got blown out by Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl, 24-11, setting up a potential disaster. If LSU had beaten Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, who gets to be #1 once everyone loses?

In all honesty, the probable scenario has #6 Notre Dame leapfrogging everyone with a 9-1 record and "we beat number one." Tennessee won the Sugar Bowl, but the opponent was Air Force so who cares? And in one of those "how in the hell can this possibly happen" ratings, #5 LSU had a worse record (9-2) and a head-to-head loss to Notre Dame but somehow was ranked one spot ahead of the Irish in the final regular season poll. So the entire season came down to the final game on New Year's Day with the winner of the national title being either Nebraska (if they won) or Notre Dame (if LSU won). The Huskers, who had been in this same spot before, finally cashed in and walked away with the national championship.

2) What about those other unbeaten teams?

What about them? They didn't play anyone worth a damn. But ASU's unbeaten season is about to change college football, too. Angry at the fact the WAC champions cannot even net ONE big-paying bowl game, the city of Tempe, Arizona creates a new bowl game for the 1971 season, the Fiesta Bowl. Through a series of political manuevering and power plays, the Fiesta Bowl winds up forcing a change in the way champions are determined, even if it did take them 15 years to pull it off.

3) But did the right team win the national championship?

This is one of those many years that demonstrate exactly WHY a four-team playoff is a great idea. The REAL debate in 1970 was "Texas or Ohio State?" Nebraska was looked at as an after thought...until both teams lost their bowl games. In the BCS era, Texas and Ohio State would have played, and Nebraska would have been left to make rings for themselves and call themselves "The People's Champions" or some other nonsense.

A four-team playoff for 1970...want a debate? Once again, three teams are quite obvious - Texas, Ohio State, and Nebraska. But who is the fourth team?

Tennessee? Yes, the played in the Sugar Bowl, but they didn't win the conference, LSU did.
LSU? How can you pick two-loss LSU over one-loss Notre Dame who beat LSU?
Notre Dame? a good schedule but lost to a 6-4-1 mediocrity in USC
Michigan? But they lost to Ohio St and didn't win the conference

In the world of 1970, of course, even without the result we now know, Notre Dame gets the selection, and the "Let's SEC-rew the SEC" rampage continues, replete with Timotheus Brandoski Sr saying nonsense like, "Well, until the day the SEC plays as many conference games as the Big Ten, we can't let them in the playoff because I hate Alabama something something."

BCS: Texas vs Ohio St
Four-team: Texas vs Notre Dame, Nebraska vs Ohio State

The "right team" won BASED ON THE CRITERIA, yes.
 

selmaborntidefan

TideFans Legend
Mar 31, 2000
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1971 AP FINAL POLL
National champion: Nebraska 11-0
Undefeated teams with ties:#14 Toldeo
UPI Champion: Nebraska

1) Walking a VERY tight rope...


There were no fewer than SIX undefeated teams as the bowl games began preparing invitations in their hopes to draw a great TV rating, and the only certainty was Michigan was headed to the Rose Bowl. Well, there was one other certainty barring a tie: Oklahoma-Nebraska and Alabama-Auburn would eliminate two other teams and shrink the field...unless they ALL lost and then there was a plethora of one-loss teams ready to cycle through the rankings and compilcate matters. By the end of the regular season, three unbeaten major teams were left: Nebraska, Alabama, and Michigan. The UPI, predictably, opted for the Nebraska team that was defending a title and had not lost. But the AP title was up for grabs, and the Orange Bowl scored a (then) rarity: #1 Nebraska vs #2 Alabama. When Michigan lost the Rose Bowl to Stanford in the afternoon, college football had a rare winner-take-all game on the docket. They couldn't have planned it any better. And neither, quite frankly, could Nebraska.

Unloading on the "back in the title picture" Alabama youngsters, Nebraska put on a clinic of 1971 football, forcing turnovers and pumping in 38 points against a Tide defense that had given up only 84 points in ten games. When the mud of the Orange Bowl floor settled, Nebraska had a second straight title and the moniker of "the greatest team of all-time." The Big Eight wound up finishing 1-2-3, the only time in polling history any conference actually held the top 3 spots in the final poll.

But what if Michigan had won? The bowl games provided security for teams of having a financial source coming in with a level of predictability, but they also maddended the fans. Just a few years hence, Alabama would be obligated to go to the Sugar Bowl, and this 1 vs 2 never happens. What if Nebraska had blown out someone else in the Orange Bowl, Alabama had blown out Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl by more points than Nebraska did, and Michigan won the Rose Bowl? Who wins the title then?

2) Did the right team win the national championship?

Unequviocally, yes. 1971 Nebraska is one of the all-time great teams, and the only real question is....who would they have had to beat in a four-team playoff in 1971?

Nebraska, Alabama, Michigan are easy choices.

Who is #4?
Oklahoma? But they already lost to Nebraska
Auburn? Blown out by Alabama far worse than OU was
Georgia? But they lost to Auburn who lost to Alabama
Colorado? But they lost to BOTH Nebraska and Oklahoma
Arizona St? Uh that would be a "no"

In all probability, Oklahoma gets chosen for the number four slot. They play Nebraska in a rematch while Alabama and Michigan play for the first time ever. And in all honesty, Nebraska probably wipes the floor with Alabama again anyway. Or Michigan, it's not like Bo could ever win the big one anyway.