Nick Saban's Impact at Alabama Reflected in the All-Time Associated Press Poll

Christopher Walsh

When Nick Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007, the Crimson Tide wasn't much of a factor in the national championship picture.

It hadn't finished in the top five of an Associated Press poll since 1994, two years after winning its most recent title. 

We all know what's happened since, the Crimson Tide won the crown in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017, and has been ranked No. 1 at some point of every season since 2008. 

In terms of the greater picture, trying to measure Alabama's success and Saban's impact on the sport isn't as clear-cut. However, one way of doing so is with the updated All-Time Associated Press Poll. 

Originally compiled and organized by Charles Woodroof, former SEC assistant director of media relations, it used to be a regular part of the annual SEC football media guide. It takes all the points from every season-ending ranking and adds them up similar to how each weekly poll is conducted.

Specifically, a first-place vote is worth 25 points, second 24 points, and all the way down to one point for No. 25, although the majority of years there were fewer than 25 teams listed.

From 1936 to 1961 the wire service ranked 20 teams. From 1962 to 1967 only 10. It went back to 20 from 1968 to 1988 before expanding to 25 teams in 1989. Consequently, the all-time poll is weighted a bit toward the most recent results.

After 800-plus years of the poll, it takes a lot for a team to make a significant move, especially near the top where the point totals really add up. 

For example, LSU won the national championship last season and went up just one place in the all-time top 25, to No. 10. It displaced a familiar foe from the top 10, Tennessee. 

Sustained success is the key, and the hardest thing to achieve at this level. 

Alabama was was solid fifth at the time of Saban's arrival, and trending downward. Over the previous decade it had just finished ranked just three times while going through numerous coaches including Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione, Mike Price (who didn't coach a game with the Crimson Tide) and Mike Shula. 

Moreover, it was roughly 100 total points behind the leading team at that point, Michigan. That's the equivalent of winning four straight national titles while the other team is completely shut out of the top 25. 

Aided by its recent win over the Wolverines in the Citrus Bowl, as Michigan dropped to No. 18 in the final AP Top 25, not only is Alabama now more than 100 points ahead of the Big Ten power, but for years has been challenging Oklahoma and Ohio State for the overall top spot. 

Following the 2019 season it's still the Sooners out front, but barley. The all-time top 25:

Team
Points
Top 20
Top 10 
Top 5
No. 1
No. 2

Oklahoma 

934.5

57

43

33

6

4

Alabama 

930

57

45

27

12

4

Ohio State

927

58

39

28

5

7

Michigan 

821

59

38

15

2

2

Notre Dame

818.5

55

37

24

8

5

USC

672

52

28

19

5

5

Texas

644

43

27

10

3

2

Nebraska

638

43

30

13

4

2

Penn State

584

43

27

14

2

3

LSU

573

42

23

10

3

3

Tennessee

560

40

23

13

2

4

Florida State

533.5

30

19

19

3

2

Georgia 

522

35

23

23

1

3

Florida 

488

30

19

19

3

1

Auburn

479

36

19

19

2

2

Miami 

466

30

15

15

5

4

Clemson 

397

29

13

13

3

3

Michigan State 

389.5

27

17

17

1

4

UCLA

378

32

17

17

0

1

Arkansas 

328

28

14

14

0

1

Wisconsin

328

22

14

14

0

1

Texas A&M

309.5

26

12

12

1

0

Washington 

306

23

11

0

2

Iowa

288

23

14

0

1

Ole Miss

282.5

23

12

0

2

The all-time rankings are also a good barometer of conference strength, and measuring just how far the gap is between different leagues.

In terms of total points, it's obviously no contest as the Southeastern Conference is way out in front. More telling, though may be just looking at where the average team in each league is ranked. 

For example, in the 14-team SEC the seventh team is Arkansas, tied at No. 20, while two other conference members are in the top 25. 

For the Big Ten, it's Iowa at No. 24. In the ACC it's Virginia Tech at No. 32 if you include Notre Dame. Otherwise, it's No. 39 North Carolina.

The sixth-place team in the Pac-12 is No. 35 Arizona State. The fifth-place team in the 10-team Big 12 is West Virginia, tied for 41st.  

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Comments (4)
No. 1-4
Bamaboi48
Bamaboi48

Bama's Top 5 number seems low (7). Please correct it, as appreciate.

Joey Blackwell
Joey Blackwell

Editor

It's quite impressive that the gap is so large between Ohio State and Michigan for third and fourth place. The top three programs have really put an impressive lead over the other programs.

NikeSaban
NikeSaban

Can we check the All-Time Top 5 for Bama & make the correction please?...Thanks

Christopher Walsh
Christopher Walsh

Editor

Sorry gang, it was supposed to be 27. We apologize for the glitch.


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