All-Time Decade Rankings
The AP Rankings
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By the AP Rankings - The Greatest Programs Ever
- AP Preseason Poll | Top Teams of All-Time
- Top Teams of the 1930s | Top Teams of the 1940s
- Top Teams of the 1950s | Top Teams of the 1960s
- Top Teams of the 1970s | Top Teams of the 1980s
- Top Teams of the 1990s | Top Teams of the 2000s
- Top Teams of the 2010s
The AP rankings might be irrelevant since they don't have anything to do with determining a national champion anymore, but they're still great to use when analyzing college football on a historical scale.
The AP college football poll has been through World War II, changed and adapted with the times, and has often looked to make a statement when needed - like in 2003 by naming USC the national champion, even though LSU took home the BCS title..
Since the AP poll is the only consistent ranking system from 1936 through today, CFN came up with a scoring system to compare and contrast how the programs finished over the decades. Every time a team finished No. 1 in the final poll, it got 25 points. The No. 2 team got 24 points, No. 3 got 23 points, and so on with the No. 25 team getting one point. Through the decades, the AP ranked the top ten teams for a few years before going back to the top 20 rankings, and eventually, it went to the top 25 system it's at now.
According to the scoring system, consistent production isn't necessarily rewarded. For example, if a team finished 17th for four straight years, it would get a total of 36 points (No. 17 gets 9 points). A team that finished the beginning of the decade No. 2 (24 points) and the end of the decade ranked tenth (16 points), but wasn't ranked any year in between, would get a total 40 points.
One fascinating thing to note: all the club teams that played during World War II. Notice the rankings of the all-star teams like the Iowa Pre-Fight juggernaut and the Bainbridge NTS powerhouse. In the end, though, the big-name programs you'd think would rock, did. There's a reason the superpowers of today got their reputations - they won.
However, things can change in a big hurry. When we did this in 2000, Notre Dame was on top of the world by a huge margin. Over a decade later and a following down period, things have changed up a bit. Also, one big year can change things up fast. Oklahoma was great last year, Michigan wasn't, so the gap between the two widened. Last year, OU was only ten points ahead of the Wolverines, 953 points to 943. Ohio State, Alabama and Notre Dame are closing fast, but one program stands as the far and away best of all-time - at least according to this formula.
So here we go - here are the greatest college football programs since 1936 according to the AP rankings.
|Others Receiving Votes|
|87||William & Mary||33|
|T100||St. Mary's (CA)||19|
|T102||Del Monte Pre-Flight||18|
|T111||El Toro Marines||10|
|T111||San Diego State||10|
|T114||New Mexico State||9|
|T118||Washington & Lee||8|
|T122||St. Mary's Pre-Flight||7|
|T125||Sec. Air Force||6|
|130||San Jose State||5|