A duffer excitedly showed a golf ball to another fellow and gushed, "This ball is fantastic. You lose it in the rough and it emits little puffs of yellow smoke. Lose it in the woods and it sends out electronic pings. Knock it in the water and a little flotation collar pops out with a small flag."
"That's sensational," the other fellow said. "Where'd you get it?"
"I found it over by the second hole."
The Associated Press came out with its first weekly college football poll of the 1981 season early last week, and the ever-vigilant David Montgomery promptly began updating his statistics on the subject of the AP poll. In a labor of love, Montgomery, a state Health Department official in Lincoln, Neb., has pored over newspaper microfilm to research the results of all such polls since the first one on Oct. 20, 1936. Not just the final polls, understand, but every weekly poll during the season, too. According to Montgomery, there have been 492 weekly football polls so far, with 151 different teams appearing one or more times in the Top 20.
Notre Dame leads the way, having been in the Top 20 for at least one week in 44 of the 46 years of the AP poll's existence—398 weeks all told, well ahead of runner-up Ohio State, which has 347 Top 20 appearances. Michigan, which topped last week's inaugural AP weekly poll but should take quite a tumble this week following Saturday's 21-14 loss to Wisconsin (page 58), holds the record for the most consecutive Top 20 appearances with 149, a streak that spanned the 1970s, beginning on Oct. 28, 1969 and ending last Sept. 30 after the Wolverines lost two of their first three games of the 1980 season. Oklahoma currently has a 143-week streak, having been in the Top 20 every week since Dec. 2, 1970. The Sooners could break Michigan's record during the eighth week of this season.
Schools that have cracked the Top 20 at one time or another also include Lafayette, which was 18th, 18th and 19th in three polls in 1940, and Washington and Lee, which was 19th and 18th in the last two weeks of 1950. Schools with only one appearance include Williams (No. 20, Nov. 10, 1942), Muhlenberg (No. 19, Nov. 20, 1946), Catawba (No. 20, Dec. 2, 1947) and Bucknell (No. 20, Nov. 21, 1951). Brown is the only Ivy League school never to have made the Top 20. The University of Chicago never did, either; the inaugural AP poll came out the season after Chicago's Jay Berwanger became the first Heisman Trophy winner in 1935.
So much for the Top 20. Now for those schools that have been No. 1. Thirty-four teams have been voted tops in the country for at least one week, and again Notre Dame leads with 62 such appearances, followed by Ohio State with 57, Oklahoma 45, USC 42, Texas 37 and Michigan State and Alabama 28. each. Four teams have been No. 1 every week of a season—Notre Dame in 1943, Army in 1945, Nebraska in 1971 and USC in 1972. After their '72 sweep, the Trojans also were top-ranked the first three weeks of '73, giving them a record 17-week stay as No. 1.
Only one team ever lost its final game of the season yet retained its No. 1 ranking—Notre Dame, whose year-ending loss in 1943 was to Great Lakes Naval Training Center. Cornell is the only Ivy League school to be ranked No. 1, but its reign at the top, in each of the first four weeks of the 1940 season, occurred before there was an official Ivy League. Illinois and Indiana are the only Big Ten schools that haven't been No. 1. Northwestern has been top-ranked five different weeks vs. Penn State's four. Army has 27 No. 1 placements, Arizona State none. Those with exactly one week as No. 1: Arkansas, Boston College, Missouri, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Dan Jenkins' alma mater, TCU (SI, Aug. 31), made it to the top of the weekly AP poll twice in 1938 but hasn't even cracked the Top 20 since 1962.
HOW ABOUT THE DELHI CONTESSAS?
Inspired by the fact that the Poca (W. Va.) High School football team is nicknamed the Dots and by the fact that there used to be a minor-league hockey team called the Macon Whoopees, one of our Florida-based correspondents, Charles Gillespie, thought of other communities whose names might lend themselves to similarly evocative nicknames like, say, the Tarzana Stripes or the Charlotte Tans. Thereupon Reporter Franz Lidz weighed in with the Spokane Words, Juneau Whats, Nome Chomskys, Pusan Boots and Algiers Hisses. Then somebody else thought of the Vichy Swabs and the Cali Flowers. And, of course, the Augusta Winds. And the Malta Milks. And...