The AP College Football Top 25 poll of college football rankings for the results of the first week of the 2011 NCAA College Football season is out, and it includes a shocker. Neither USC or Notre Dame are on the list, and that’s never happened before in the history of the AP Poll, going back to 2002.
There are many examples where USC or Notre Dame has not been on the poll during a season, but this blogger has not found one year where USC and Notre Dame were both not on the AP Top 25 poll of college football rankings.
What happened is the result of two storied programs with a long history of success going in the same direction for different reasons. USC’s problem stem from not from NCAA sanctions, which were only recently applied, but from a more challenging recruiting environment, where non-traditional Pac-10 (now Pac-12) rivals have successfully challenged USC for talent nationwide.
Moreover, the rise in the use of the Internet to share information on college football strategies and tactics, has removed what advantage USC may have had in the past.
Today, anyone can look at game film from past USC contests online, whereas that was not true prior to 2006, which saw the establishment and growth of video-sharing sites like YouTube. And a number of websites devoted to football strategy have been installed over that time, like Coach Huey’s Forum, which I use. Additionally, a small market for the buying and selling of football playbooks has formed.
Now, I can get the entire playbook for Notre Dame or for a number of teams, some directly via online search, others through a small, informal coaches network that anyone can buy into.
That has impacted how teams like the University of South Florida, which beat Notre Dame 23 to 20, form game plans against not just Notre Dame, and USC, but all teams. There’s are least five easily accessible online videos for every NCAA college football team by my cursory estimation, and perhaps more.
This free exchange of information, air travel, health and fitness methods, and social media, have all served to spread the talent base and make up for differences in money that goes to football programs. It’s easier than ever to field a nationally-competitive football team at a Division 1 NCAA school.
That fact is why USC and Notre Dame are not, as of this writing, in the AP College Football Top 25 poll of college football rankings for the first week of the college football season.