The Associated Press embarked on a project this offseason to rank the all-time college football top 100. The AP, of course, has been one of the primary college football polls used in the game since the poll debuted in 1936, and remains a fixture to this day.
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).
Arkansas came in ranked 21st in the top 100 using that formula. That’s the 8th spot among current SEC teams and - since Arkansas did spend the majority of that time in the Southwest Conference - 3rd among the old SWC schools (Texas is ranked 8th and A&M is slightly above Arkansas at 18th).
This is the profile for Arkansas:
Total appearances: 410, 37.17% of all polls
First appearance: 1936
No.1 ranking: One
Best full decade: 1970s appeared in 66.22% of polls.
Worst full decade: 1940s appeared in 7.95% of polls.
Poll point: The Razorbacks have 30 top-three appearances, but only one (Nov. 20, 2011) since 1978.
That’s a pretty respectable resume, and it’s nice to know the Hogs have appeared in more than one out of every three AP polls that have ever come out.
It’s the AP’s project and they use whatever formula they please, but I see some pretty glaring flaws in their system:
- The most obvious to Arkansas fans - the AP didn’t release a poll after the bowl games until 1965, which is why Arkansas is listed as having 0 national championships here. In 1964, Arkansas was the only team to finish the year undefeated after the bowl games, but Alabama was undefeated and ranked #1 following the regular season. They lost to Texas in the Orange Bowl while Arkansas defeated Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl, but Alabama still claims the national title that year since they were #1 in the final AP poll.
- Any poll appearance between #2 and #25 is ranked equally with one point. I don’t know exactly how Arkansas would end up in the rankings if they weighted the points based on how high a team was ranked, but those great Arkansas teams in the 60s and 70s didn’t get their full credit (Arkansas was ranked in the top 5 each week in 1965 and 1969 - until after the last bowl game).
- The polls aren’t weighted from preseason to postseason, meaning a meaningless preseason ranking is counted the same as a ranking in November or even after the bowl games.
I don’t know that the top 100 would be terribly different if they took the above factors into account (most of those top 10 programs would almost definitely still be the top 10 programs), but I bet it would be somewhat different.
But still, a solid showing for the Razorbacks. The Hogs have been just on the cusp of the top 25 for the last couple of seasons. They’re due to get back in.