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CRAZY PRESS POLLS…PART 1

I mentioned last time, in the blogs on the 1968-71 Auburndale team, about some of the crazy things that happened in the press polls.


What did poet Ezra Pound, auto maker Henry Ford and industrialist (Known mostly for chewing gum and owning the Chicago Cubs) William Wrigley, Jr have in common? They are all attributed as saying “When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary”. That could have been said of the Associated Press and the United Press International high school football polls. Not that they sometimes didn’t agree on who was the #1 or #2 team some seasons but often their polls were real head scratchers from week to week.


The AP was made up of 7-9 members of the press from the largest newspapers from around the state. They were often from Milwaukee, Madison, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Superior, Green Bay and a writer from the Wisconsin River region plus occasionally a writer or two from other areas of the state. They would vote on Monday or Tuesday by phone, with calls to Milwaukee and the results would be posted in the press on Wednesday or Thursday. In 1947 the AP did the first high school football press poll, but they didn’t start up again until 1965.


The UPI began polls in 1956 with their poll. The coaches selected at random each season to represent the state was made up of 30-37 members each season. Sometimes a coach would vote one week but for some reason not the next or their votes didn’t get turned in time to the person (s) doing the tabulating. Often a voter would feel another team that didn’t make the top ten listing deserved a #1 placing and the next ten teams receiving voted weren’t always printed, depending on the newspaper. The UPI poll would be printed, usually in the Thursday or Friday editions of local newspapers.


On Saturday’s many papers would print an AP recap of the top games from the night before. A reader could learn about a game from Kenosha, Milwaukee, Madison, Sheboygan, Wausau, Durand, Hillsboro, West Bend, Mariette and other locations. In addition to the polls, the AP and UPI would cite a player-of-the week and a list of other top performances, often in conjunction with a story about the rankings. In 1961 the UPI polls reflected one weekly listing for the top largest schools and one for the smallest ones. When the AP debuted, they followed suit with two polls as well. The polls went by different names like Big 10, Little 10, Big Schools, Little Schools and later Big, Large, Medium and Small schools. Often the press poll would change the names throughout the season from Big to Large and back to Big. The UPI also, occasionally conducted a “Private and Parochial” poll while the AP included those schools in their writings when they began in 1965. By 1968 the two press organizations included those private schools in their polls.


While looking at the polls for the 1968-71 seasons for Auburndale I came across a few strange postings. I could spend hours recounting each year, but I decided to point out how different the two sets of polls were for just two years, 1965 and 1968, to give you an idea of what I found.


First, the 1965 AP polls:

The week before the final posting on the left and finals on the right.




Oshkosh and Green Bay East tied in their final game so East jumped up in the finals. Don Bosco lost their final game and dropped four spots. The other schools remained the same. Note that Granville High School no longer exists, and its school district was later split with some moving to Milwaukee as some of the area was annexed and the other part became Brown Deer.


Now the UPI ratings and again, the semi-final poll is on the left and the final is on the right:



The UPI waited several weeks before announcing their final poll and you can see that Milwaukee Boy’s Tech dropped to the #3 spot in the final and Green Bay East jumped from #5 to the #2 position. When looking at the UPI polls you can count the number of first place votes. In the semi-final listing Oshkosh had 29 of the 30 votes while in the final they still had a commanding overall point total but only received 13 of the 31 votes cast.


Now for some really crazy small school rankings. First, the AP:



Not a lot of shifting in the polls overall but the sports writers (AP) differed greatly with the coaches (UPI) as they thought very highly of Lomira and not as much of Barron’s record. Luck was higher in the UPI than in the AP by a wide margin. But the big difference was that the AP liked Randolph for the #! Spot where the UPI voted then to the final #6 spot, down from a tie for #4, even though their record stayed the same.


Now, the UPI final Small School polls:







Please look at the UPI poll closely. It shows a (6) 8-0 record or a 6—8-0 record for Barron and some other teams have a () number or a similar #--record. If you count the numbers in parentheses or the numbers before the – you get the first-place votes. The AP didn’t list their first-place votes. When the semi-final UPI poll for the small schools was recorded there appeared to only have been 26 voters participating. However, they didn’t release their “Also receiving votes” part of the poll so when the final results were tabulated you can count, including those schools in the dark print, 22 first place votes for teams in the top 10 and 12 first place votes for schools in the lower tier. #2 in the semi-final poll Holcombe stayed undefeated but dropped to the “also” category. #6 Alma jumped to the #2 spot without playing any additional games and a few other schools switched positions. If 34 voters were part of the semi-final and final polls and only 26 first place votes were recorded in the semis, then another 8 votes were for lower “also” teams.

As mentioned, the UPI published a Private and Parochial poll whereas the AP included those schools in their rankings. There were 32 coaches who voted in this final posting. Milwaukee Don Bosco finished in the top spot of the UPI and #7 in the overall AP poll while Wisconsin Rapids Assumption followed in the #8 AP spot.


As mentioned, the UPI published a Private and Parochial poll whereas the AP included those schools in their rankings. There were 32 coaches who voted in this final posting. Milwaukee Don Bosco finished in the top spot of the UPI and #7 in the overall AP poll while Wisconsin Rapids Assumption followed in the #8 AP spot.


Next time, 1968.





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