Rank #1: California Pushes NCAA Toward the Inevitable
A new California law is pushing the NCAA toward allowing college athletes to make money off their names, images and likenesses. It is being built up as tipping point for college athletics, a change in the landscape that could finally bring the NCAA down. But in reality, it is just forcing the NCAA to do something it probably should have done a long time ago. Andy Staples from The Athletic joins AP’s Ralph Russo to talk about the consequences, intended and unintended, from Fair Pay to Play and why fans shouldn’t fear this being what ruins college sports. Also, during the first month of the season the gap between Clemson and Alabama and the field seems to have closed. And Andy talked to Gus Malzahn about why the Auburn coach went back to calling plays. The Tigers face Florida in the game of the week in college football.
Oct 01 2019
Rank #2: Strange Days at USC and Michigan
There is so much more than a Clay Helton hot-watch going on at the University of Southern California these days. ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg joins AP’s Ralph Russo to discuss the Trojans. Both were in LA for last week’s game against Utah, which had plenty of side stories with Reggie Bush and Urban Meyer in the Coliseum. Rittenberg and Russo look back at Michigan’s mess, discuss the odd news out of Houston regarding star quarterback D’Eriq King deciding to sit out the rest of this season, and they search for second-tier playoff contenders. Plus, what will it take for Jonathan Taylor to run past a slew of talented quarterbacks and win the Heisman?
Sep 24 2019
Rank #3: Talking recruiting: Signing day preview
The early signing period debuted in college football last year and it quickly became the main signing period. Most prospects signed their national letters of intent and most schools had their classes all but complete in December. With the early signing period beginning on Dec. 19, Mike Farrell, the national recruiting director from Rivals, joins AP's Ralph Russo to survey the landscape. How have coaches and prospects adjusted to the new date? What teams are set to clean up? What highly touted prospects figure to wrap up their recruitment in December? Which ones will wait until February?
Dec 10 2018
Rank #4: UCONN MAKES A MOVE
UConn is heading back to the Big East, leaving the American Athletic Conference in a move made to prioritize basketball over football. The Huskies are likely heading for football independence. Neill Ostrout, longtime UConn beat writer from the Journal Inquirer of Manchester, joins AP's Ralph Russo to discuss how UConn got to where it is and the ramifications of the move. Huskies football has been run into a ditch, but more damaging to the school is it seems the conference and its failures in football were also hurting a men's basketball program that has won four national titles. UConn will try to recapture its old hoops glory by aligning itself with some familiar rivals.
Jun 24 2019
Rank #5: Where do Clemson and Alabama go from here?
The 2018 season is a wrap. Clemson is the champion after a unprecedented beat down of Alabama. The final AP Top 25 college football podcast of the season takes a look at what went right for the Tigers; what went wrong for the Tide; and where college football's superpowers go from here. The USA Today college sports crew of Dan Wolken, Paul Myerberg and George Schroeder join AP's Ralph Russo for a roundtable that puts a bow on 2018 and looks toward the story lines for 2019.
Jan 07 2019
Rank #6: The future of the College Football Playoff
Two things are safe to say about the future of the College Football Playoff: Someday it will expand to include more than four teams. That expansion is unlikely to happen soon.
ESPN playoff reporter Heather Dinich joins AP's Ralph Russo this week for an all playoff talk edition of the AP Top 25 College Football Podcast. They discuss why we are not on a fast track to expansion and what hurdles need to be cleared to get there. And what would be the best expand playoff formats and what would have to change to improve the way college football crowns a national champion.
May 13 2019
Rank #7: Who is most likely to succeed?
There are 27 first-year coaches in FBS this season. Who is most likely to succeed? Who is least likely? AP's Ralph Russo ranks the new coaches from 1 to 27 based on who is best positioned for long-term success. Recurring guest Paul Myerberg of USA Today joins the show to debate and breakdown Russo's rankings. Plus, Myerberg has his rankings of the 10 new coaches most likely to have a successful first season. We also spoil Avengers: Endgame in the final minutes. You have been warned.
May 07 2019
Rank #8: ACC Preview
The college football season is less than two months away and it's time to start previewing the Power Five conferences. We start with the Atlantic Coast Conference. David Hale of ESPN joins the AP's Ralph Russo to talk about the unpredictable ACC Coastal, where Miami might be the default favorite. What new coaches in the conference face the toughest tasks, but who is most likely to have long-term success? How will Florida State bounce back? And David has a creative way to tell you just how good Clemson is.
Jul 16 2019
Rank #9: Live From Scottsdale
It's College Football Meeting Time. This week, AP college football writer Ralph Russo sits down with his colleagues Nicole Auerbach and Max Olson of The Athletic while covering the meetings of the top college football conferences. They chew over the stunning selection of Duke's Daniel Jones over Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins in the first round of the NFL draft, and consider the rationale behind and effects of top-dollar contracts for top-level coaches.
Apr 30 2019
Rank #10: Who should be in the Hall of Fame?
The latest College Football Hall of Fame ballot of 76 major-college candidates is out and it's impossible to whittle down the list for the class of 2020. It includes Heisman Trophy winners Eric Crouch and Carson Palmer, Miami stars Jerome Brown and Ray Lewis and dozens of other former stars who would be hall of fame worthy. AP Top 25 voter Matt Brown of The Athletic joins AP's Ralph Russo take on the task and putting together next year's class of hall of famers. They also discuss why Eric Dickerson has yet to be inducted. Plus, a quick look at The Athletic's 150 years of college football series.
Jun 03 2019
Rank #11: Big Ten breakdown and Saban's "rant"
With the college football championships out of the way, it's time to turn back to football. Bill Bender of The Sporting News joins the AP's Ralph Russo to talk about the first look at quarterback Justin Fields, playing for Ryan Day's Ohio State program. Plus is this finally Jim Harbaugh's year to beat the Buckeyes? And which of 2018's surprise teams _ Washington State, Syracuse, Missouri _ can build on their successes, and which will regress? Also, Nick Saban's so-called rant about players leaving early.
Apr 09 2019
Rank #12: Manny Diaz Takes on Miami
New Miami coach Manny Diaz grew up in south Florida when the Hurricanes were king. Now the son of the former mayor is the 'Canes head coach. He hopes his connection to the program and community can help bring Miami championships again. Diaz joins AP's Ralph Russo for an interview that ranges from his Miami roots to working the transfer portal.
Apr 23 2019
Rank #13: Tough Jobs: What new coaches have their work cut out for them?
Stepping into a new job is always challenging, but what new coaches have the toughest tasks ahead of them in college football? Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports and The Athletic joins the AP's Ralph D. Russo to talk dirty jobs and heavy liftiong. Nobody seems to have his work cut out for him more than Scott Satterfield at Louisville. Mike Locksley at Maryland is also walking into a tricky situation. Bruce and Ralph also discuss which new coaches at Group of Five schools could be the next rising stars and what first-year starting quarterbacks could be ready to break out the way Kyler Murray and Tua Tagovailoa did last year. Plus a little Tiger Woods talk.
Apr 15 2019
Rank #14: Taggart’s Task: Rebuilding Florida State
Florida State coach Willie Taggart sits down for an interview with AP's Ralph Russo. Taggart talks about rebuilding a broken program at Florida State the way he did at previous stops. And why he believes the Seminoles are on track for a turnaround.
Jun 30 2019
Rank #15: College Football By the Numbers
Figuring out what to make of early season college football results can be hard. Bill Connolly of ESPN joins AP’s Ralph Russo to sort through the noise using Bill’s SP+ rankings. The advance metric system looks beyond wins and losses to judge the performance of each team. College football followers are often too quick to dismiss results of any game that doesn’t qualify as a big game. Every team is terrible. Every schedule is soft. Connolly’s system helps quantify the value of each team and game. It allows us to see why it’s significant that Georgia beat Arkansas State 55-0 and why being the 17th ranked team in the country is not so different from being the 37th ranked team in the country. Plus, why Russo might be ready to jump on the UCF bandwagon.
Sep 17 2019
Rank #16: Briles is Back. Why?
Former Baylor coach Art Briles, fired amid a scandal at the school three years ago, has landed a job at a mid-sized East Texas High School. The news surprised many who assumed the results of an investigation into the improper handling of sexual assault allegations at Baylor would tarnish Briles beyond repair.
Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News joins AP's Ralph Russo to try to explain why the Mount Vernon Independent School District hired Briles and if leadership there can ride out the criticism.
Plus, Carlton gives an update from the uncharacteristically quiet Big 12 meetings, the latest on the comings and goings of Bru McCoy at Texas and who is No. 3 in the Big 12.
May 28 2019
Rank #17: SEC Preview
Georgia and Alabama appear to be heading toward another high-stakes matchup in the Southeastern Conference. Can any of the other SEC teams stand in the way of the league’s two superpowers meeting again? Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports and SiriusXM joins AP’s Ralph Russo to preview the SEC from top to bottom. Why Tennessee is trending up while Kentucky is likely going in the other direction. Why Texas A&M might be Alabama’s biggest challenger in the SEC West, not LSU.
Jul 23 2019
Rank #18: In the trenches with Aaron Taylor
Former Notre Dame offensive linemen and current CBS analyst Aaron Taylor joins AP's Ralph Russo to talk about his favorite subject: blocking. Taylor breaks down how Florida State might be able to fix its problems up front, how Oklahoma will replace four players who were selected in April's draft and why Georgia could be the favorite for this year's Joe Moore Award, which goes to the best offensive line in the country. Who are some of the best offensive line coaches in the country? Plus, Taylor gives his assessment on the state of Notre Dame under Brian Kelly, whether anybody can catch up to Clemson and Alabama this season and what it will be like for Ryan Day to replace Urban Meyer at Ohio State.
Jul 08 2019
Rank #19: Fitz on College Football
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald led the Wildcats to a Big Ten West championship last season and a bowl victory against Utah. This season he replaces a four-year starting quarterback with a former five-star recruit and Clemson transfer as Northwestern tries to maintain a remarkable level of success and consistency.
Fitzgerald joins AP's Ralph Russo to talk transfer rules, compensating players and how he handles it when NFL teams come calling.
May 20 2019
Rank #20: Alabama vs. Clemson _ again
Cole Cubelic of the SEC Network joins AP's Ralph Russo to break down the College Football Playoff national championship game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson. Paul Myerberg also joins the show to talk winners and losers from bowl season. It was a good month for the Big 12 and not so great for Jim Harbaugh. Will Urban Meyer coach again? Can Notre Dame do better than Brian Kelly?
Jan 01 2019