USC Coach Lane Kiffin directs his players during a team practice session… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
USC is No.1.
Can you believe it?
The school socked with major NCAA probation and banned from post-season play the last two years emerged as No.1 in Saturday's release of the first Associated Press college football poll.
The Trojans earned the top spot, with 25 first-place votes, followed by defending champion Alabama and Louisiana State. Oklahoma is fourth, followed by Oregon, Georgia, Florida State, Michigan, South Carolina and Arkansas.
The Southeastern Conference, which has won the last six Bowl Championship Series titles, has five teams in the AP top 10.
The AP poll is no longer used in the formula that comprises the BCS standings, but has crowned an independent champion since 1936.
The AP poll has been very kind to USC. This is the seventh time the Trojans have opened in the No. 1 spot.
In 2003, the AP defied the BCS standings, which had USC third behind Oklahoma and LSU, and crowned the Trojans champions after they defeated Michigan in the Rose Bowl. LSU won the BCS title that year.
The AP also did not strip USC of its 2004 trophy after the NCAA placed USC on major probation in the wake of Reggie Bush's improprieties.
The BCS stripped USC of its 2004 trophy even though the Trojans dominated Oklahoma, 55-19, in the Orange Bowl.
For what it's worth, this year's BCS title game is being played again in South Florida, the site where USC claimed its only BCS title under Pete Carroll.
The AP insisted on being removed from the BCS after a poll voting controversy in 2004 involving Texas and California. The Harris Poll has replaced the AP in the BCS standings formula.
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