Coaches Poll All-Time Preseason Top 25 College Football Rankings (at least since 1978)

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Coaches Poll All-Time Preseason Top 25 College Football Rankings (at least since 1978)

Coaches Poll

Coaches Poll All-Time Preseason Top 25 College Football Rankings (at least since 1978)

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According to the Coaches Poll top 25 rankings, how did all the preseason rankings stack up since the poll came out before the 1978 season?


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Which college football programs got the most love and respect over the years in the preseason Coaches Poll?

The AP Poll started in 1936, but it didn’t start putting out a preseason ranking until 1950 – we’ll do the all-time preseason AP Top 25 rankings next.

1950 also just happened to be the same year the Coaches Poll started up under the UPI (United Press International) before USA TODAY took over in 1991. However, there wasn’t a preseason poll until the 1978 season.

It might seem somewhat trivial now in a College Football Playoff era, but the preseason rankings used to be everything in the national championship chase.

For the most part – back in the poll-and-bowl era – if you were ranked in the preseason top five or so and kept on winning, that was it. You were locked in. It was a brutally flawed system – as opposed to current one that’s just painfully flawed – in lieu of any playoff format to determine a champion.

Most of college football’s national champions were based on nothing more than a belief of an ill-informed voting base that didn’t have access to more than a few games a week. Even worse, the bowl games weren’t taken into account in the national championship voting until 1968 for the AP and 1974 for the Coaches Poll.

So the point here is to see where the expectations were set. Over the years – at least since 1978 – how did the coaches (or the athletic department staffers who did it for them) perceive the top teams before the seasons?

USA TODAY Coaches Poll, All-Time Final Rankings
Greatest Programs of All-Time | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s
1990s | 2000s | 2010s | 2020s | AP Top Programs of All-Time
USA TODAY Preseason Coaches Polls
1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s | 2020s

Coaches Poll: Preseason College Football Top 25 Rankings 1978 to 2022

CFN devised a scoring system giving every UPI/USA TODAY-ranked preseason No. 1 team 25 points, the No. 2 team 24, No. 3 23, and so on down to the bottom of the top 20 in the early years, and then it became the top 25 later on.

1 Oklahoma 759 (1)

2 Ohio State 743 (2)

3 Florida State 683 (3)

4 Michigan 667 (4)

5 Alabama 664 (5)

6 Nebraska 588 (6)

7 USC 550 (7)

8 Notre Dame 542 (8)

9 Texas 526 (10)

10 Penn State 519 (9)

11 Georgia 518 (12)

12 Florida 516 (11)

13 Miami 491 (13)

14 LSU 477 (14)

15 Clemson 418 (16)

16 Auburn 410 (15)

17 Washington 363 (17)

18 Tennessee 341 (18)

19 Texas A&M 331 (19)

20 UCLA 295 (20)

21 Wisconsin 255 (21)

22 Oregon 242 (22)

23 Virginia Tech 220 (23)

24 Iowa 189 (24)

25 Arkansas 179 (26)


USA TODAY Preseason Coaches Polls
1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s | 2020s


26 Colorado 178 (25)

27 Pitt 159 (28)

28 Michigan State 157 (29)

29 Stanford 154 (27)

30 North Carolina 137 (30)

31 West Virginia 130 (31)

32 Kansas State 119 (32)

33 Oklahoma State 118 (35)

T34 BYU 112 (T33)

T34 TCU 112 (T33)

36 Arizona State 96 (36)

37 South Carolina 92 (37)

38 Syracuse 86 (38)

39 Georgia Tech 83 (39)

40 Baylor 80 (45)

41 Louisville 78 (40)

42 Boise State 77 (41)

43 Houston 69 (42)

T44 Arizona 66 (T43)

T44 Purdue 66 (T43)

46 Cal 63 (46)

47 Maryland 60 (47)

48 Ole Miss 59 (49)

49 Missouri 58 (48)

50 Utah 51 (53)


USA TODAY Coaches Poll, All-Time Final Rankings
Greatest Programs of All-Time | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s
1990s | 2000s | 2010s | 2020s | AP Top Programs of All-Time


51 Virginia 49 (50)

52 Illinois 48 (51)

53 SMU 34 (52)

54 Mississippi State 32 (54)

55 NC State 30 (T60)

56 Iowa State 28 (55)

57 Cincinnati 24 (59)

58 Northwestern 22 (56)

T59 Boston College 21 (T57)

T59 Oregon State 21 (T57)

T61 Texas Tech 17 (T60)

T61 UCF 17 (T60)

T61 Washington State 17 (T60)

64 Kansas 15 (64)

65 Kentucky 14 (T69)

66 Colorado State 13 (65)

67 Minnesota 11 (66)

T68 Rutgers 10 (T67)

T68 USF 10 (T67)

T68 Wake Forest 10 (T73)

71 Indiana 9 (T69)

72 Southern Miss 6 (71)

73 Marshall 5 (72)

T74 Louisiana 3 (T73)

T74 Coastal Carolina 2 (T75)

T74 Hawaii 2 (T75)

77 Fresno State 1 (77)

USA TODAY Coaches Poll, All-Time Final Rankings
Greatest Programs of All-Time | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s
1990s | 2000s | 2010s | 2020s | AP Top Programs of All-Time
USA TODAY Preseason Coaches Polls
1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s | 2020s

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