The Legends Poll was a college football poll that rated the Top 25 teams weekly during the college football season. Its aim was to identify the two best teams in its opinion by the end of the season who should compete in a national championship game. The voters were a group of retired coaches, most of whom were in the College Football Hall of Fame. The Legends Poll was founded by Andy Curtin in 2005 as the Master Coaches Survey, but changed its name in 2008 to better reflect the make-up of its voting members. Curtin and his partner, Pete Wolek implemented the original plan and operated the Legends Poll since its inception. The Legends Poll appears in the Sporting News each week and is published by other media web sites such as ESPN.
The Legends Poll started in July 2005 when Andy Curtin and four partners convened a three-day conference in Thomasville, Georgia that was attended by fifteen retired college football coaches. These coaches were introduced to a polling system that was quite different than any previous poll. The main differences in the proposed poll were threefold. The voters in the new poll would be provided game DVDs to watch each week, the voters would discuss the recent games on an hour-long conference call each week, and there would be no pre-season poll. The first poll wouldn’t take place until after the voters had seen three weeks’ worth of games.
After unanimously approving this new polling idea, the coaches agreed to become the Master Coaches Survey and began voting in the 2005 college football season. Prior to the 2008 season, the poll name was changed to the Legends Poll to reflect the legendary status of the famous coaches involved, and to replace the word “Survey” with “Poll” to reduce confusion with the fans as to what was actually taking place.
The basic idea of the poll was that one would get the best poll results by utilizing the most expert talent to vote, especially when they had no current ties to college football programs, and they had the time to watch all the relevant games played each week. The weekly conference call allowed the coaches to point out to each other the strengths and weaknesses of the various teams. Each coach was assigned one or two teams to follow and become an expert on. During the conference call each coach would present his synopsis on his assigned team, and the other coaches would comment on or question what had been presented. This system thus allows all of its voters the shared expertise of the entire group. As the season progressed and more teams dropped from contention for the top spots in the poll, coaches who lost teams from that process would be assigned new teams to follow, which allowed the Legends Poll to have multiple experts looking at the top teams as the season wound down.
The ultimate goal of the Legends Poll is not to get the exact 25 teams in exactly correct numerical order each week, but to get the correct two teams listed as # 1 & 2 at the conclusion of the season, after watching the entire body of work of all the contending teams throughout that season.
The original 16 members of the poll in 2005 were: John Cooper, Vince Dooley, Pat Dye, LaVell Edwards, Hayden Fry, Don James, Frank Kush, Dick MacPherson, Bill Mallory, Don Nehlen, John Ralston, John Robinson, Bo Schembechler, R. C. Slocum, Gene Stallings and George Welsh.
Bo Schembechler died in November 2006. He was replaced by Tom Osborne in the 2007 season. Due to prior commitments, Terry Donahue, an original invitee, was unable to join the group until 2006. When Tom Osborne became the Nebraska Athletics Director after the 2007 season, he was replaced by Bill Snyder in 2008. Hayden Fry asked to be relieved of his voting duties in 2008 and he was replaced by Frank Broyles. Fisher DeBerry was also added to the group in 2008. Bill Snyder left the group after returning to coaching in 2008. In March 2010, Bobby Ross became the group's newest member. Bobby Bowden was added to the group in April 2010, mere months after coaching his final game at Florida State.
There was discussion about the Legends Poll forming part of the College Football Playoff Selection committee as they transitioned away from the BCS, but that did not happen and the poll became dormant.
|Legends Poll Members||School(s)||Record|
|Bobby Bowden||Florida State, West Virginia, Howard||375–129–4 (44 seasons)|
|Frank Broyles||Arkansas, Missouri||149–62–6 (20 seasons)|
|John Cooper||Ohio State, Arizona State, Tulsa||192–84–6 (24 seasons)|
|Fisher DeBerry||Air Force||169–107–1 (23 seasons)|
|Terry Donahue||UCLA||151–74–8 (20 seasons)|
|Vince Dooley||Georgia||201–77–10 (25 seasons)|
|Pat Dye||Auburn, Wyoming, E. Carolina||153–62–5 (19 seasons)|
|LaVell Edwards||BYU||257–101–3 (29 seasons)|
|Frank Kush||Arizona State||176–54–1 (22 seasons)|
|Dick MacPherson||Syracuse||111–73–5 (17 seasons)|
|Bill Mallory||Indiana, Colorado, Miami (OH), N. Illinois||165–121–4 (27 seasons)|
|Don Nehlen||West Virginia, Bowling Green||202–128–8 (30 seasons)|
|John Ralston||Stanford, Utah State, San Jose State||97–81–4 (17 seasons)|
|John Robinson||USC, UNLV||132–77–4 (18 seasons)|
|Bobby Ross||Georgia Tech, Maryland, Army, The Citadel||103–101–2 (18 seasons)|
|R. C. Slocum||Texas A&M||123–47–2 (14 seasons)|
|Gene Stallings||Alabama, Texas A&M||89–70–1 (14 seasons)|
|George Welsh||Virginia, Navy||189–132–4 (28 seasons)|
|Former Legends Poll Members||School(s)||Record|
|Hayden Fry||Iowa, North Texas, SMU||232–178–10 (37 seasons)|
|Don James||Washington, Kent State||178–76–3 (22 seasons)|
|Tom Osborne||Nebraska||255–49–3 (25 seasons)|
|Bo Schembechler||Michigan, Miami(O)||234–65–8 (26 seasons)|
|Bill Snyder||Kansas State||136–68–1 (17 seasons)|
- Kaipust, Rich (21 May 2013). "Osborne plugs 'Legends' voters to be part of playoff selection process". Retrieved 2 November 2020.
- Ferrante, Bob (7 April 2012). "Bobby Bowden to vote in weekly poll, helps him stay connected to college football". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
- Feldman, Bruce (13 May 2013). "Legends Poll the most viable selection route?". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2 November 2020.