The 1972 NCAA University Division football season saw the USC Trojans, coached by John McKay, go undefeated and win the national championship as the unanimous choice of the 50 AP panelists. Eighth-ranked in the preseason, the Trojans were narrowly voted No. 1 in the first AP poll, and stayed out front for the rest of the year.

Prior to the 1972 season, two programs were elevated to the University Division. The new programs were Long Beach State and Tampa. The change brought the total number of programs in the University Division to 121.[2]

During the 20th century, the NCAA had no playoff for the major college football teams in the University Division, which became Division I in 1973 (and Division I-A in 1978). The NCAA Football Guide, however, did note an "unofficial national champion" based on the top ranked teams in the "wire service" (AP and UPI) polls. The "writers' poll" by Associated Press (AP) was the most popular, followed by the "coaches' poll" by United Press International) (UPI). Through the 1973 season, the UPI issued its final poll in early December before the bowls, but since 1968 (and 1965) the AP Trophy was withheld until the postseason was completed. The AP poll in 1972 consisted of the votes of fifty sportswriters, though not all of them voted in every poll. Those who cast votes would give their opinion of the ten best teams. Under a point system of twenty points for first place, nineteen for second, etc., the "overall" ranking was determined.

This season was historically significant because it was the first in which freshmen were eligible to play varsity football in the University Division.[3][4][5] The NCAA had historically prohibited freshmen from varsity competition, except during the United States involvement in World War II and the Korean War. In 1968, the NCAA allowed freshman eligibility in the University Division in all sports, except football and basketball, and extended the rule to those sports effective with the 1972–73 academic year.

Rule changes

Conference and program changes

NCAA structure

This was the last season for the "University" and "College" divisions. For the 1973 season, the NCAA created the three-division structure that exists today with teams and conferences designated accordingly:

Five years later in 1978, Division I was subdivided (for football only) into I-A and I-AA. In 2006, these were renamed Division I FBS and FCS, respectively. Many of the teams and conferences now in FCS (Big Sky, Ohio Valley, SWAC, Yankee) were initially in Division II and moved up to I-AA.

Membership changes

School 1971 Conference 1972 Conference
Appalachian State Mountaineers Independent Southern
McNeese State Cowboys Independent Southland
New Mexico State Aggies Independent Missouri Valley
Trinity (TX) Tigers Southland Independent

Program changes

September

October

November

In 1972, only the Rose Bowl (Big Ten vs. Pac-8) and Cotton Bowl (SWC winner) had rigid conference tie-ins. Thus, Big 8 champion Oklahoma passed up an Orange Bowl invitation to play in the Sugar Bowl against Penn State, while SEC champion Alabama turned down the Sugar to meet No. 7 Texas (which had breezed to the SWC title after its early-season loss to Oklahoma) in the Cotton. For the first time, the Sugar Bowl was played at night on New Year's Eve, rather than New Year's Day afternoon. With two consecutive victories in the Orange Bowl, No. 9 Nebraska was invited to a third against No. 12 Notre Dame.

Conference standings

1972 Atlantic Coast Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 12 North Carolina $ 6 0 0 11 1 0
No. 17 NC State 4 1 1 8 3 1
Maryland 3 2 1 5 5 1
Duke 3 3 0 5 6 0
Clemson 2 4 0 4 7 0
Virginia 1 5 0 4 7 0
Wake Forest 1 5 0 2 9 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll[6]
1972 Big Eight Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 2 Oklahoma $ 6 1 0 11 1 0
No. 4 Nebraska $ 5 1 1 9 2 1
No. 16 Colorado 4 3 0 8 4 0
Oklahoma State 4 3 0 6 5 0
Missouri 3 4 0 6 6 0
Iowa State 2 4 1 5 6 1
Kansas 2 5 0 4 7 0
Kansas State 1 6 0 3 8 0
  • $ – Conference champion
  • The Big 8 Conference mandated Oklahoma forfeits in three conference games, giving Nebraska the title. Oklahoma reverted this record at a later date; hence, both Oklahoma[7] and Nebraska[8] claim this title.
Rankings from AP Poll
1972 Big Ten Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 6 Michigan + 7 1 0 10 1 0
No. 9 Ohio State + 7 1 0 9 2 0
Purdue 6 2 0 6 5 0
Michigan State 5 2 1 5 5 1
Minnesota 4 4 0 4 7 0
Indiana 3 5 0 5 6 0
Illinois 3 5 0 3 8 0
Iowa 2 6 1 3 7 1
Wisconsin 2 6 0 4 7 0
Northwestern 1 8 0 2 9 0
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
1972 Ivy League football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
Dartmouth $ 5 1 1 7 1 1
Yale 5 2 0 7 2 0
Penn 4 3 0 6 3 0
Cornell 4 3 0 6 3 0
Harvard 3 3 1 4 4 1
Princeton 2 4 1 3 5 1
Columbia 2 4 1 3 5 1
Brown 1 6 0 1 8 0
  • $ – Conference champion
1972 Mid-American Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
Kent State $ 4 1 0 6 5 1
Bowling Green 3 1 1 6 3 1
Western Michigan 2 2 1 7 3 1
Miami 2 3 0 7 3 0
Toledo 2 3 0 6 5 0
Ohio 1 4 0 3 8 0
  • $ – Conference champion
1972 Missouri Valley Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 18 Louisville + 4 1 0 9 1 0
Drake + 4 1 0 7 5 0
West Texas State 3 1 0 5 5 0
Tulsa 3 1 0 4 7 0
Memphis State 3 2 0 5 5 1
Wichita State 2 4 0 6 5 0
New Mexico State 1 3 0 2 9 0
North Texas State 0 7 0 1 10 0
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll
1972 Pacific Coast Athletic Association football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
San Diego State $ 4 0 0 10 1 0
Pacific (CA) 3 1 0 8 3 0
Fresno State 1 3 0 6 4 1
Long Beach State 1 3 0 5 6 0
San Jose State 1 3 0 4 7 0
  • $ – Conference champion
1972 Pacific-8 Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 1 USC $ 7 0 0 12 0 0
No. 15 UCLA 5 2 0 8 3 0
No. 19 Washington State 4 3 0 7 4 0
Washington 4 3 0 8 3 0
California 3 4 0 3 8 0
Oregon 2 5 0 5 6 0
Stanford 2 5 0 6 5 0
Oregon State 1 6 0 2 9 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1972 Southern Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
East Carolina $ 6 0 0 9 2 0
Richmond 5 1 0 6 4 0
William & Mary 4 2 0 5 6 0
The Citadel 4 3 0 5 6 0
Davidson 2 3 1 3 7 1
VMI 1 5 0 2 9 0
Furman 1 6 0 2 9 0
Appalachian State 0 3 1 5 5 1
  • $ – Conference champion
1972 Southeastern Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 7 Alabama $ 7 1 0 10 2 0
No. 5 Auburn 6 1 0 10 1 0
No. 11 LSU 4 1 1 9 2 1
No. 8 Tennessee 4 2 0 10 2 0
Georgia 4 3 0 7 4 0
Florida 3 3 1 5 5 1
Ole Miss 2 5 0 5 5 0
Kentucky 2 5 0 3 8 0
Mississippi State 1 6 0 4 7 0
Vanderbilt 0 6 0 3 8 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1972 Southwest Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 3 Texas $ 7 0 0 10 1 0
Texas Tech 4 3 0 8 4 0
SMU 4 3 0 7 4 0
Arkansas 3 4 0 6 5 0
Rice 3 4 0 5 5 1
Baylor 3 4 0 5 6 0
TCU 2 5 0 5 6 0
Texas A&M 2 5 0 3 8 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1972 Western Athletic Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 13 Arizona State $ 5 1 0 10 2 0
BYU 5 2 0 7 4 0
Utah 5 2 0 6 5 0
Arizona 4 3 0 4 7 0
Wyoming 3 4 0 4 7 0
New Mexico 2 4 0 3 8 0
Colorado State 1 4 0 1 10 0
UTEP 1 6 0 2 8 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll
1972 NCAA University Division independents football records
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 10 Penn State     10 2 0
No. 14 Notre Dame     8 3 0
Utah State     8 3 0
West Virginia     8 4 0
Florida State     7 4 0
Northern Illinois     7 4 0
Rutgers     7 4 0
No. 20 Georgia Tech     7 4 1
Air Force     6 4 0
Army     6 4 0
Virginia Tech     6 4 1
Houston     6 4 1
Tulane     6 5 0
Temple     5 4 0
Colgate     5 4 1
Holy Cross     5 4 1
Syracuse     5 6 0
Miami (FL)     5 6 0
Dayton     4 6 1
Boston College     4 7 0
Navy     4 7 0
South Carolina     4 7 0
Southern Miss     3 7 1
Marshall     2 8 0
Xavier     2 8 0
Cincinnati     2 9 0
Villanova     2 9 0
Pittsburgh     1 10 0
Rankings from AP Poll

Bowl games

Major bowls

Sunday, December 31, 1972
Monday, January 1, 1973

Bowl game Winning team Losing team
Sugar No. 2 Oklahoma 14 No. 5 Penn State 0
Cotton No. 7 Texas 17 No. 4 Alabama 13
Rose No. 1 USC 42 No. 3 Ohio State 17
Orange No. 9 Nebraska 40 No. 12 Notre Dame 6

The final AP poll in January was: 1. USC (12–0), 2. Oklahoma (11–1), 3. Texas (10–1), 4. Nebraska (9–2–1), 5. Auburn (10–1) [9][10]

Other bowls

Bowl City State Date Winner Score Loser
Sun El Paso Texas December 30 No. 16 North Carolina 32–28 Texas Tech
Gator Jacksonville Florida December 30 No. 6 Auburn 24–3 No. 13 Colorado
Tangerine Orlando Florida December 29 Tampa 21–18 Kent State
Astro-Bluebonnet Houston Texas December 30 No. 11 Tennessee 24–17 No. 10 LSU
Liberty Memphis Tennessee December 18 Georgia Tech 31–30 Iowa State
Peach Atlanta Georgia December 29 NC State 49–13 No. 18 West Virginia
Fiesta Tempe Arizona December 23 No. 15 Arizona State 49–35 Missouri

[11]

Heisman Trophy

The Big Eight Conference dominated the Heisman race in 1972, as the top three were from Nebraska and Oklahoma:

  1. Johnny Rodgers, WB – Nebraska, 1310 points
  2. Greg Pruitt, RB – Oklahoma, 966
  3. Rich Glover, MG – Nebraska, 652
  4. Bert Jones, QB – LSU, 351
  5. Terry Davis, QB – Alabama, 338
  6. John Hufnagel, QB – Penn State, 292
  7. George Amundson, RB – Iowa State, 219
  8. Otis Armstrong, RB – Purdue, 208
  9. Don Strock, QB – Virginia Tech, 144
  10. Gary Huff, QB – Florida State, 138

Source:[12][13]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-02. Retrieved 2009-01-03.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Tampa, Long Beach Get Major Status". Star-Gazette. June 8, 1972. p. 36 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "Frosh now eligible for football, hoops". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. January 9, 1972. p. 1, sports.
  4. ^ "Frosh okayed for football, basketball". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). wire service reports. January 9, 1972. p. 1B.
  5. ^ Jenkins, Dan (October 30, 1972). "A locomotive for the class of '76". Sports Illustrated. p. 26.
  6. ^ "1972 Atlantic Coast Conference Year Summary". sports-reference.com. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
  7. ^ "2018 Media Guide" (PDF). soonersports.com. Oklahoma Athletics. p. 6. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  8. ^ "2018 Media Guide" (PDF). huskers.com. Nebraska Athletics. p. 206. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  9. ^ "Hey, guess what? USC acclaimed poll champs". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. Associated Press. January 3, 1973. p. 31.
  10. ^ CFB Data Warehouse Archived 2010-02-11 at the Wayback Machine – final AP polls – 1970–79
  11. ^ "Bowl games at a glance". Spokesman-Review. November 22, 1972. p. 15.
  12. ^ Heisman.com – 1972 – Johnny Rodgers
  13. ^ "Johnny Rodgers Heisman winner". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. December 6, 1972. p. 17.