Depending on who you are, and, really, who your grandfather is or was, the top of this week’s college football AP poll could look reasonably unsurprising to him:
- Ohio State: The Buckeyes have had a number of successful periods, and they have won national championships– some of them even recognized by AP voters!– in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, and 70s, as well as 2002 and 2014. Your grandfather, like many other humans, might despise Ohio State, but seeing them atop this week’s AP poll would not trigger his pacemaker.
- Michigan State: The ESPN headline identifies the Spartans as among those teams whose presence high on the AP’s list would really blow granddad’s circuits. The problem with that (not granddad’s circuits blowing)? MSU was good at football at times when your dad’s dad likely was watching football. They won consecutive national titles in 1951 and 1952, finishing #1 in the AP poll in ’52. Thanks to coach Duffy Daugherty, Michigan State stayed good in the 1960s, when Daugherty led the team to national titles in 1965 and 1966 (to say nothing of those in ’55 and ’57). Daugherty also was the first to propose a college football playoff, which he did in 1966, so if your grandfather now claims he thought of the idea “like fifty years ago,” he’s probably got his circuits crossed and is just remembering Daugherty and all those years the Spartans were AP poll regulars.
- Ole Miss: Along with Michigan State, ESPN doubled out Ole Miss for special treatment as a stranger of sorts in this week’s AP voting, but, again, if your grandpa was into college football in the 1950s and 1960s, he would not find it odd to discover that the writers held the Rebels in rare regard. The school claims three national titles, all of which came between 1959 and 1962, and, naturally, the team finished in the top three in each respective season’s AP poll. He might be surprised that they’re still going with the whole “Rebels” thing, but he knows they’ve been good at football before.
TCU: TCU won two national championships, 1935 and 1938, and the latter resulted in a #1 AP poll ranking. Who knew? Your granpappy, probably. Things have been a bit rough for the Horned Frogs since then, and especially so in the period from 1959-2000, but like an extra layer of fat that becomes more difficult to shed as a result of age-induced immobility, TCU hasn’t been a complete stranger to the AP poll’s midsection throughout history. They may not have done enough in the past to jog your mother’s father-in-law’s memory today, but he’ll probably appreciate the assumption that the players all go to regular chapel services.
- (TCU being tied with Ole Miss at #3 means that Baylor is #5. WordPress’ list formatting function is more intractable than your opa’s partisan voting pattern, so please accept this placeholder as an apology.)
- Baylor: Ok, the Bears pretty much stunk before Art Briles showed up in 2010, BUT: Baylor has occasionally peppered the middle of the AP poll in years past, so pop-pop would be within his reasonable faculties to presume that the school finally got it together and was building on its moderate successes of the past. Really the hope here is that he doesn’t say anything terrible about Catholics.
Is this week’s AP top five literally “your granddaddy’s top 5”? Probably not. Are there reasons to believe that people two generations older than today’s readers of ESPN.com would be unsurprised to learn that these schools currently have good football teams? Absolutely. Bring Keith Olbermann back, ESPN, if only for him to write accurate headlines for your website.