Tip Top 25 in helmets, smaller

Fixing the Final 2000 AP College Football Poll

1) Oklahoma 13-0
2) Miami-Florida 11-1
3) Washington 11-1
4) Oregon State 11-1
5) Florida State 11-2
6) Virginia Tech 11-1
7) Oregon 10-2
8) Nebraska 10-2
9) Kansas State 11-3
10) Florida 10-3
11) Michigan 9-3
12) Texas 9-3
13) Purdue 8-4
14) Colorado State 10-2
15) Notre Dame 9-3
16) Clemson 9-3
17) Georgia Tech 9-3
18) Auburn 9-4
19) South Carolina 8-4
20) Georgia 8-4
21) Texas Christian 10-2
22) Louisiana State 8-4
23) Wisconsin 9-4
24) Mississippi State 8-4
25) Iowa State 9-3

To the left is the final 2000 AP college football top 25. The fixed final AP top 25 follows the article below. 

Much of the fixing this time involved accounting for head-to-head results that the AP poll ignored. Seven of them in all.

For example, 8-4 Louisiana State defeated 9-3 Georgia Tech 28-14 in the Peach Bowl, yet there they sit 5 places behind the Yellowjackets in the top 25. And Georgia Tech defeated 9-3 Clemson on the road 31-28, yet there they sit one spot behind the Tigers. The AP poll has these 3 teams backwards.

Then there's the fact that #15 Notre Dame defeated #13 Purdue, who defeated #11 Michigan. Again, the AP poll has them listed in the opposite order of logic and common sense. Why does this happen so often? Lastgamitis, of course.

The BCS championship race featured its own head-to-head controversy in 2000, as 11-1 Florida State was selected to face unbeaten Oklahoma over 10-1 Miami-Florida, who defeated the Seminoles 27-24.

Oklahoma wins 2000 national championship over Florida State

Oklahoma's defense smothered Florida State's previously powerful offense in a 13-2 win for the 2000 national championship.

The 2000 National Championship Race

Was the selection of 11-1 Florida State over 10-1 Miami-Florida an injustice? That is tough to judge. Miami's 27-24 win over FSU came at home, so it wasn't decisive. One could easily assume these teams to be equal on a neutral field based on that game. Both teams were incredibly dominant that season, winning by huge scores week after week. But the difference was FSU's schedule, which appeared, at the end of the regular season at least, to be far tougher than Miami's, including wins over 9-2 Georgia Tech, 9-2 Clemson, and 10-2 Florida. Miami fans were livid about the perceived injustice, but the problem is, if you are going to decide that head-to-head results trump everything else, then Miami did not belong in the national championship game anyway.

11-1 Washington did, as they defeated Miami at home 34-29. Washington, however, was never seriously considered a contender, so all the controversy centered on FSU and Miami. The reason for that was Washington's weak schedule and even weaker performance. They had 5 close wins over unrated opponents, winning those games by 3, 6, 3, 3, and 7 points. Meanwhile, Miami and FSU were destroying their opponents, even rated ones: Miami beat 11-1 Virginia Tech 41-21, and Florida State beat 9-3 Clemson 54-7 and 10-3 Florida 30-7. And Washington's win over Miami came early in the season, was played in Seattle, and was a close game.

I think Florida State was a legitimate choice for the national championship game due to their schedule. The problem is, that advantage
completely evaporated as the bowl games were played, and by the time the national championship game rolled around, FSU was no longer a legitimate choice to be playing in it. That is because the six bowl teams that FSU defeated went 1-5 in their bowl games, including a big loss by 9-2 Georgia Tech to 7-4 Louisiana State. And 9-2 Clemson was destroyed by 10-1 Virginia Tech (a Miami opponent) 41-20. And Miami defeated 10-2 Florida 37-20 in the Sugar Bowl.

The four bowl teams Miami had beaten, meanwhile, were 3-1, including a 49-38 upset by 6-5 West Virginia over 7-4 Mississippi. So by the time the national championship game arrived, it was apparent that Miami should have been playing in it. But you can't blame the BCS for that (other than blaming them for obstructing a real playoff, which would have rendered this controversy moot). No one could really know how overrated the ACC was until the bowl games exposed them.

Florida State

They say that women are fickle, but I am here to tell you that no creatures on Earth are so fickle as sportswriters, who jump on and off bandwagons with such alacrity, it is a marvel to witness. All season long they told us that Florida State was the bee's knees. The cock of the walk. The alpha alfalfa. Then one loss to unbeaten Oklahoma in the national championship game, and they fall all the way to #5. But what did Washington do-- let alone Oregon State-- to move past FSU in the final poll?

Washington defeated 8-4 Purdue in the Rose Bowl 34-24. But was there anyone-- anyone at all-- who believed that FSU would not have done better than that against Purdue? I'm thinking that FSU would have beaten Purdue something like 40-7, and their season-long outcomes back that up. Furthermore, I think the very sportswriters who dropped FSU knew it too. They just didn't ask themselves that question, or even think about it at all.

As stated above, Washington barely got by 5 unrated opponents. FSU did not have a single game like that. Washington is not even close enough to FSU to fruitfully compare. I would have more respect for the AP voters if they had rated Washington ahead of FSU before the bowls, but to switch them based on their bowl results is just ridiculous.

So we'll move FSU up to #3, and drop Washington to #4 and Oregon State to #5.

Kansas State 

Here is an example of the sort of mindlessness we see from AP poll voters every year. By the end of the regular season, 10-2 Kansas State had won the Big 12 North by means of a 29-28 home victory over 9-2 Nebraska. They were therefore ranked higher than Nebraska. So far so good.

KSU's reward was to play eventual national champion Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, losing 27-24, and thereby falling back behind Nebraska in the ratings! Nebraska had lost to Oklahoma 31-14. KSU came closer to Oklahoma than anyone else had all season. And yet they drop behind Nebraska? Again, I could look closely at this if the AP voters had ranked Nebraska higher before the Big 12 title game, but as it is this choice just looks senseless.

So we'll switch 'em. Kansas State to #8, Nebraska to #9.


Florida (10-3, #10) played a crazy 8 teams in the AP top 25, and a ninth who was ranked in the coaches' poll, and will be ranked in the fixed poll (8-4 Tennessee). That is flat-out amazing. Yes, they got drubbed by Miami and Florida State at season's end, but those teams drubbed practically everyone they played. Virginia Tech (11-1, #6), for example, lost to Miami 41-21, worse than Florida did. In fact, let's compare Virginia Tech and Florida further...

Virginia Tech had the better straight record, 11-1 to Florida's 10-3. But VT played 2 top 25 opponents, 1/4 the number Florida played! They were 1-1 against rated opponents, or 50%, compared to 5-3 for Florida (62.5%). VT had 2 close wins over unrated opponents, Florida 1-- and that one was over 8-4 Tennessee, who should be rated. So make it zero. Florida rolled over rated opponents by scores like 41-9, 38-7, 41-21, and 28-6.

So let's move Florida up past Virginia Tech to #6, dropping VT to #7, Oregon to #8, Kansas State to #9, and Nebraska to #10.

Notre Dame, Purdue, and Michigan

Notre Dame beat Purdue 23-21, and Purdue beat Michigan 32-31. Both wins were close home wins, but I don't see any schedule or season-long performance reasons to dismiss them. Before the bowls, Notre Dame was #10, Purdue #14, and Michigan #17. Now Notre Dame was thoroughly embarrassed in their bowl game, but it came against now-#5 Oregon State, who is ranked well above any of these 3 teams. Purdue lost to now-#4 Washington. Michigan beat #18 Auburn 31-28, which is good, but we have no reason to think Notre Dame or Purdue couldn't have squeaked by them also-- and Auburn is ranked behind all 3 of these teams anyway.

This is a serious case of lastgamitis, throwing out the whole season and looking only at the last games played. The cure is to put these 3 teams back in their proper order. We'll put Notre Dame ahead of Purdue and drop Michigan behind them. That moves Texas to #11, Notre Dame to #12, Purdue remains at #13, Michigan drops to #14, and Colorado State drops to #15. Actually, Colorado State is going to drop much further than that...

Colorado State and Texas Christian

Yes, it's that time again. Time to beat up on some little big teams. This year's victims are 10-2 Colorado State (#14) and 10-2 Texas Christian (#21). Neither of these teams played a single top 25 opponent. You might as well rank division 2 teams that had nice-looking records. Or college hockey teams. Because hockey teams played as many relevant football games as CSU and TCU did in 2000. Which is to say zip. Zero. Nada.

Both teams lost to 2 unrated opponents-- and TCU lost one of theirs in their bowl game (to Southern Miss)! I might have been willing to give TCU a break based on their performance, which was very strong (albeit against a terrible schedule), if not for that fact. CSU's performance, on the other hand, was very weak, with 5 close wins over unrated opponents.

Here's the thing. Even the people voting these teams up there do not for one minute believe that either team would have beaten unrated Tennessee (8-4, no losses to unranked opponents). I know it. They know it. Everyone knows it. These are token placements for a couple of little big teams with meaninglessly nice straight records. Now, I like the little big teams too, and always root for them. I like underdogs. And I love when the little bigs earn high ratings for great seasons. But they have to earn it. They should not be ranked highly out of a misplaced sense of "fairness." Because it is actually unfair to teams that deserve it.

So blow them a kiss and wave goodbye, because CSU and TCU are falling all the way out of the 2000 top 25, where they belong. We'll worry about who to replace them with below, but obviously one replacement will be Tennessee.

Auburn, Louisiana State, Georgia Tech, and Clemson

Here's an easy victory chain. #18 (original ranking) Auburn (9-4) beat #22 Louisiana State (8-4) 34-17, LSU beat #17 Georgia Tech (9-3) 28-14 in the Peach Bowl, and GT won at #16 Clemson (9-3) 31-28. The AP poll, unfortunately, has these teams in almost the complete opposite order of that easy set of head-to-head results.

Let's drop Clemson behind GT, and move Auburn and LSU ahead of them. That and Colorado State's exit (above) put Auburn at #15, LSU #16, GT #17, and Clemson #18.

Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina

Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina all finished 8-4 and defeated each other in a circle. But somehow Tennessee ended up outside the top 25, while SC finished #19 and Georgia #20. That doesn't really make much sense.

What separates these 3 teams is the fact that SC took an upset 27-17 loss to unranked Alabama, whereas Tennessee and Georgia suffered no such upset losses. And since Georgia defeated Tennessee 21-10 (and Tennessee won at SC 17-14), we'll order the teams like so: UGA > Tenn > SC.

Switch Georgia and South Carolina, and move Tennessee into the top 25 between them. Georgia #19, Tennessee #20, SC #21.

Ohio State

Ohio State finished 8-4 and unranked, while Wisconsin finished 9-4 and was originally ranked #23. Yet Ohio State won at Wisconsin 23-7. I'm shaking my head.

Move Mississippi State (8-4, originally #24) to #22, put Ohio State into the top 25 at #23, and drop Wisconsin to #24. That leaves 9-3 Iowa State at #25, but not for long...

Texas A&M

Texas A&M, 7-5 and unranked, won at Iowa State 30-7. Can it get much clearer than that? Yes, they had 2 more losses, but that is because they played (and lost to) ranked opponents Notre Dame and Mississippi State (whom they lost to 43-41 in overtime in the Independence Bowl), while ISU played no ranked nonconference opponents at all. Texas A&M also played #1 Oklahoma and now-#11 Texas, and ISU played neither of those teams. In all, A&M played 6 ranked opponents to ISU's 2. This is actually much clearer than the Ohio State/Wisconsin case, and a good learning point for AP poll voters. You cannot just look at straight records!

But why stop there? Ohio State and Texas A&M both took an upset loss to an unranked opponent, OSU losing to Minnesota 29-17 and A&M losing to Colorado 27-19. But Texas A&M also defeated #9 Kansas State 26-10. And they lost to #22 Mississippi State in overtime in their bowl game, whereas Ohio State lost 24-7 to #21 South Carolina in theirs.

So let's put Texas A&M ahead of the Buckeyes, at #23, dropping OSU to #24, Wisconsin to #25, and Iowa State into oblivion.

Fixed AP Top 25

The original top 25 had 30 total losses to lower-ranked opponents. The fixed top 25 has only 20 such losses. A huge improvement.

Colorado State, Texas Christian, and Iowa State fall out. Replacing them are Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Ohio State. The old teams had 5 losses to unranked opponents and no wins over ranked teams. Their replacements have only 2 losses to unranked opponents and a big 4 wins over teams the AP poll had ranked. And the new teams were 1-0 head-to-head against the dropouts (Texas A&M's 30-7 win over Iowa State). So, I'd call this year's fixed top 25 a winner over the original in a complete rout.

1) Oklahoma 13-0--
2) Miami-Florida 11-1--
3) Florida State 11-2+2
4) Washington 11-1-1
5) Oregon State 11-1-1
6) Florida 10-3+4
7) Virginia Tech 11-1-1
8) Oregon 10-2-1
9) Kansas State 11-3--
10) Nebraska 10-2-2
11) Texas 9-3+1
12) Notre Dame 9-3+3
13) Purdue 8-4--
14) Michigan 9-3-3
15) Auburn 9-4+3
16) Louisiana State 8-4+6
17) Georgia Tech 9-3--
18) Clemson 9-3-2
19) Georgia 8-4+1
20) Tennessee 8-4IN
21) South Carolina 8-4-2
22) Mississippi State 8-4+2
23) Texas A&M 7-5IN
24) Ohio State 8-4IN
25) Wisconsin 9-4-2

OUT: #14 Colorado State 10-2
#21 Texas Christian 10-2
#25 Iowa State 9-3

Fixed AP Polls