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August 4, 2011

Auburn ranked 19th in USA Today poll; lowest start for defending national champ in decades

The USA Today coaches’ poll is out. Auburn didn’t start very high.

The national champion Tigers came in at No. 19 in the preseason poll Thursday after finishing last year’s season atop the list.

It’s the lowest a defending national champion has debuted in the ranking since the USA Today began administering the poll in 1991.

Head coach Gene Chizik isn’t giving the rankings much attention.

“If I’m not mistaken, this time last year nobody used ‘Auburn’ and ‘championship’ in the same sentence,” he said. “So that’s what makes college football so great. Everybody’s got opinions and everybody loves this time of year to predict who’s going to do what. So that’s all good. I don’t have the time or energy to worry about it.”

Auburn started last season ranked No. 23.

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The Tigers are one of eight SEC teams in the poll, joining Alabama (No. 2), LSU (No. 4), South Carolina (No. 12), Arkansas (No. 14), Mississippi State (No. 20), Georgia (No. 22) and Florida (No. 23).

Auburn gets no break from that group, playing all seven of those ranked teams this year. Four of those games are on the road.

Here’s the full poll. First-place votes in parentheses, followed by record last year, points in this year’s poll and last season’s finish:

1. Oklahoma (42), 12-2, 1,454 points, LY: 6
2. Alabama (13), 10-3, 1,414 points, LY: 11
3. Oregon (2), 12-1, 1,309, LY: 3
4. LSU (2), 11-2, 1,296 points, LY: 8t
5. Florida State, 10-4, 1,116 points, LY: 16
6. Stanford,12-1,1,101 points, LY: 4
7. Boise State, 12-1, 1,065 points, LY: 7
8. Oklahoma State, 11-2, 933 points, LY: 10
9. Texas A&M, 9-4, 885 points, LY: 21
10. Wisconsin, 11-2, 829 points, LY: 8t
11. Nebraska, 10-4, 814 points, 19
12. South Carolina, 9-5, 779 points, LY: 22
13. Virginia Tech, 11-3, 767 points, LY: 15
14. Arkansas, 10-3, 750 points. LY: 12
15. TCU, 13-0, 687 points, LY: 2
16. Ohio State, 12-1, 631 points, LY: 5
17. Michigan State, 11-2, 536 points, LY: 14
18. Notre Dame, 8-5 440 points, LY: NR
19. Auburn, 14-0, 329 points, LY: 1
20. Mississippi State, 9-4, 301 points, LY: 17
21. Missouri, 10-3, 266 points, LY: 18
22. Georgia, 6-7, 260 points, LY: NR
23. Florida, 8-5, 240 points, LY: NR
24. Texas, 5-7,162 points, LY: NR
25. Penn State, 7-6, 161 points, LY: NR

How rare is it for the previous year’s champion to be ranked so low? I’m glad you asked, because I did a little research.

I went back to see where each year’s consensus champions (sometimes there were more than one) were ranked to start the following year, going all the way back to 1950.

USA Today took over coaches poll in 1991. Unfortunately, I could only find preseason rankings in the coaches’ going back to 2000. But the AP has a much better archive, so I that as a barometer instead for older polls (they vary very little).

Eight times since 1950 has a national champion been ranked outside the top 10 in the following year’s preseason poll. I’ve bolded them below.

The last was Georgia Tech, which shared the national title with Colorado in 1990, only to start the 1991 season at No. 13. The 1990 season was fluky, though. Nobody had a perfect record.

The last time a team had a perfect record during a national championship season and was ranked outside the top 10 the following year was when Penn State started the 1987 season ranked No. 11.

In fact, Auburn’s No. 19 preseason ranking is the lowest for a defending champion since Minnesota entered the 1961 season unranked in what was then the AP Top 20.

Here’s a list of champions each year, followed by their rank to start the following season:

(USA Today poll)
2010 champ: Auburn — No. 19
2009 champ: Alabama — No. 1
2008 champ: Florida — No. 1
2007 champ: LSU — No. 6
2006 champ: Florida — No. 3
2005 champ: Texas — No. 2
2004 champ: USC — No. 1
2003 champ: LSU — No. 3, USC — No. 1
2002 champ: Ohio State — No. 2
2001 champ: Miami — No. 1
2000 champ: Oklahoma — No. 3
(Associated Press poll)

1999 champ: Florida State — No. 2
1998 champ: Tennessee — No. 2
1997 champ: Michigan — No. 5, Nebraska No. 4
1996 champ: Florida — No. 2
1995 champ: Nebraska — No. 1
1994 champ: Nebraska — No. 2
1993 champ: Florida State — No. 3
1992 champ: Alabama — No. 2
1991 champ: Miami — No. 1, Washington — No. 2
1990 champ: Colorado — No. 13, Georgia Tech — No. 8
1989 champ: Miami — No. 1
1988 champ: Notre Dame — No. 2
1987 champ: Miami — No. 8
1986 champ: Penn State — No. 11
1985 champ: Oklahoma — No. 1
1984 champ: BYU — No. 10
1983 champ: Miami — No. 10
1982 champ: Penn State — No. 4
1981 champ: Clemson — No. 11
1980 champ: Georgia — No. 10
1979 champ: Alabama — No. 2
1978 champ: Alabama — No. 2, USC — No. 1
1977 champ: Notre Dame — No. 5
1976 champ: Pittsburgh — No. 7
1975 champ: Oklahoma — No. 5
1974 champ: Oklahoma — No. 1, USC — No. 5
1973 champ: Alabama — No. 4, Notre Dame — No. 3
1972 champ: USC — No. 1
1971 champ: Nebraska — No. 1
1970 champ: Ohio State — No. 11, Texas — No. 3, Nebraska — No. 2
1969 champ: Texas — No. 2
1968 champ: Ohio State — No. 1
1967 champ: USC — No. 2
1966 champ: Michigan State — No. 3, Notre Dame — No. 1
1965 champ: Alabama — No. 1, Michigan State — No. 2
1964 champ: Alabama — No. 5, Arkansas — No. 6, Notre Dame — No. 3
1963 champ: Texas — No. 4
1962 champ: USC — No. 1
1961 champ: Alabama — No. 3, Ohio State — No. 1
1960 champ: Minnesota — NR, Ole Miss — No. 9 (goes up to 20)
1959 champ: Syracuse — No. 1
1958 champ: Iowa — No. 9, LSU — No. 1
1957 champ: Auburn — No. 5, Ohio State — No. 1
1956 champ: Oklahoma — No. 1
1955 champ: Oklahoma — No. 1
1954 champ: Ohio State — No. 4, UCLA — No. 1
1953 champ: Maryland — No. 3
1952 champ: Michigan State — No. 2
1951 champ: Tennessee — No. 6
1950 champ: Oklahoma — No. 4

12 Comments

  1. Auburn is one of 8 SEC teams ranked. Florida is ranked #23. Pretty incredible that two-thirds of the league is ranked and 5 of 6 in the West.

    Comment by Cameron — August 4, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

  2. Overlooked the Gators. Thank you. It’s corrected.

    Comment by abitter — August 4, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  3. No problem, I appreciate all the work you do. I love this site

    Comment by Cameron — August 4, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

  4. The number 19 worked out pretty good the last time they suited up ! http://auburnfootballfanforum.yuku.com/topic/19246/Caudle-s-Mom-s-Letter

    Comment by Warren — August 4, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

  5. Great to see that many SEC teams ranked in top 25. Very surprised to see Auburn ranked ahead of Florida and Mississippi State. But it is just pre-season.

    Comment by Bobby — August 4, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

  6. Notre Dame ranked 18th ahead of us?? Seriously? No, really, seriously? I see some other names that don’t belong either, in particular Georgia – by what metric are AP voters deciding they belong in the poll? Number of fractures in Aaron Murray’s spine from last year??

    I guess complaining about being ranked so low would be the typical reaction, but after last season I’m very much over what the rest of the journalistic world thinks they know about teams they don’t cover. Like I said last year – let’s see what the BCS rankings are, THEN we’ll talk.

    Comment by jdinmacon — August 4, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

  7. Auburn was over rated last year, so this just seems to balance things out.

    Comment by Sid — August 4, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

  8. The team that went 14-0 and produced the Heisman Trophy winner was overrated? What kind of scale are you using?

    Comment by abitter — August 4, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

  9. [...] as No. 19. And indeed, no defending national champion has been ranked this low to start the season since Minnesota went unranked in the 1961 preseason top [...]

    Pingback by Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: SEC | Kentucky News — August 4, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

  10. 19th? I seen a tweet on ESPN saying that Auburn must have 22 All-American freshmen! No way. It a’int gonna happen!

    Auburn will not be ranked in the top 25 when this season is over and likely will not be ranked in the top 25 but early in the season and will never make it back.

    This is a courtesy ranking based on last years results in my opinion. Auburn lost too many players at VITAL positions to compete in the SEC so therefore we will have at least 4 losses, likely 5 with our SEC schedule.

    Write it down and bank on it instead of all this extremely highly and unrealistic optimism.

    Also from what I hear, if the NCAA finds what they think they will find regarding the recruitment of Cam Newton, look for the stripping of his Heisman, the national championship and significant probation. Do not think it is over. Remember how long it took with the USC investigation.

    Comment by John — August 4, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

  11. Auburn was ranked 23rd at the beginning of the season last year. Auburn was not ranked #1 until near the end of the season. The media, when have they been correct. Look at Alabama, what hapened to them. I predict that Trent Richardson will have less yards than Michael Dyer.

    Comment by Todd Bice — August 4, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

  12. John is a bammerspammer bitter that we beat that Bama A## like a drum in the Iron Bowl (dont get too overly confident bubba or it could happen AGAIN!)
    Keep on thinking Auburn has no fire left in the belly and we will beat any on any given Saturday. I do not take anything away from Alabama they are almost a lock and LSU is strong but Miss St while building and becoming a contender still misses in D line positions and receivers Auburn can beat them and likely will, as is the case with UGA and dare I say it USC too!! WDE!!
    By the way John do not deny your Bama roots and hide your real allegiance, be proud of your school I know I am proud of mine. And please find another topic to discuss Auburn did not pay the Newtons (any of them) any money whatsoever, fact Jack fact. Write THAT down.

    Comment by threenotch — August 4, 2011 @ 10:12 pm

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