No debate is as endless in college sports as that of the best program of all-time in any given sport. However, no college sport is as harshly debated and hotly contested as that of football. One way of dealing with that has been the institution of Top 25 polls.
Few polls have been around and as influential as that of the Associated Press, which has been telling the college football world its national champion for over 80 years now. As it enters the 2016 season and far removed from the Sports Editor of the AP making the only poll way back in 1935, the AP attempted to answer the question of who is the all-time best program in AP Poll history.
The answer may not shock many in Big Ten country, as Ohio State came in No. 1 all-time. OSU came in at No. 1 with a total of 1,112 points and bested its closest competition — Oklahoma — by over 50 points. It also wasn’t close when you talk about longevity of appearance in the AP Poll.
How did the AP decide who was the best all-time program in its poll’s history? Here is how they put it:
To determine the all-time Top 25, the AP formula counted poll appearances (one point) to mark consistency, No. 1 rankings (two points) to acknowledge elite programs and gave a bonus for AP championships (10 points).
Ohio State has appeared in 77.24 percent of all AP Polls, making a total of 852 appearances in the AP Poll throughout the years. Both of those totals were the best mark in the country, but the leading didn’t stop there as the 105 first place rankings were also the top of the heap.
The Buckeyes’ consistency appears to have won the day, as the program has only seen itself not make a single appearance in an AP Poll at some point during the season on three occasions.
OSU weren’t the only Big Ten teams to make a splash in this poll, as Nebraska came in at No. 6 and Michigan came in at No. 7 of all-time.
In total, seven Big Ten programs populated the Top 25 of this all-time AP Poll. Perhaps most surprising were seeing the likes of Iowa and Wisconsin in the Top 25, as the Hawkeyes came in under the wire at No. 25 and Wisconsin was one spot ahead of them at No. 24.
Penn State could be found at No. 12 of the all-time AP Poll rankings and Michigan State came in at No. 19.
Outside of the top 25 were a few Big Ten surprises as well, including seeing Purdue rank No. 36 and ahead of Minnesota, who came in at No. 37 all-time.
The Big Ten was well represented in the top 50 of the poll, with 11 of the 14 current members of the league inside that mark. Northwestern rounded it out at No. 50 all-time, a mark that many would find crazy considering its lack of overall success throughout the years.
Rutgers rounded out the Big Ten representation, coming in at No. 86 all-time. They were bested by the likes of Holy Cross, Fordham, Miami (OH) and Santa Clara to name but a few embarrassing moments for the Scarlet Knights.