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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 2021

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 742

2 Ohio State 722

3 Florida State 683

4 Michigan 647

5 Alabama 639

6 Nebraska 588

7 USC 539

8 Notre Dame 521

9 Penn State 519

10 Texas 518

AP Poll All-Time Preseason Top 25 College Football Rankings

11 Florida 516

12 Georgia 495

13 Miami 482

14 LSU 477

15 Auburn 410

16 Clemson 396

17 Washington 363

18 Tennessee 341

19 Texas A&M 312

20 UCLA 295

21 Wisconsin 249

22 Oregon 228

23 Virginia Tech 220

24 Iowa 189

25 Colorado 178

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

26 Arkansas 176

27 Stanford 154

28 Pitt 149

29 Michigan State 145

30 North Carolina 137

31 West Virginia 130

32 Kansas State 119

T33 BYU 112

T33 TCU 112

35 Oklahoma State 103

36 Arizona State 96

37 South Carolina 92

38 Syracuse 86

39 Georgia Tech 83

40 Louisville 78

41 Boise State 77

42 Houston 68

T43 Arizona 66

T43 Purdue 66

45 Baylor 64

46 Cal 63

47 Maryland 60

48 Missouri 58

49 Ole Miss 57

50 Virginia 49

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 Illinois 48

52 SMU 34

53 Utah 33

54 Mississippi State 32

55 Iowa State 28

56 Northwestern 22

T57 Boston College 21

T57 Oregon State 21

59 Cincinnati 20

T60 NC State 17

T60 Texas Tech 17

T60 UCF 17

T60 Washington State 17

64 Kansas 15

65 Colorado State 13

66 Minnesota 11

T67 Rutgers 10

T67 USF 10

T69 Indiana 9

T69 Kentucky 9

71 Southern Miss 6

72 Marshall 5

T73 Louisiana 3

T73 Wake Forest 3

T75 Coastal Carolina 2

T75 Hawaii 2

77 Fresno State 1

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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