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25 Years of Ignominy: Indiana Football and the AP Poll

A shame so old, it can now rent a car on its own.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

October 28th update: Once again, Indiana sits on the precipice. 4 votes received in this week’s AP Poll, also known as more votes than they’ve received the last two times they appeared in RV combined.

Could a win over Northwestern finally end this quarter-century long nightmare? Might this instead merely push us closer to 25 without actually breaking this curse? Will a potential 7-2 Hoosiers squad convince the Associated Press to RANK INDIANA, YOU COWARDS! Only time will tell. —C4B

On September 17th, 1994, the Indiana Hoosiers advanced to 3-0 on the season with a 59-29 thrashing of future “Dey supposed to be SEC” meme team Kentucky. Ahead of their showdown the following week with Wisconsin, Indiana would be voted the #25 team in the nation by the AP Poll. It was September 20th, 1994.

Indiana has yet to return to the Top 25.

In the intervening quarter century, IU has managed to make the “Receiving Votes” portion of the poll 5 times, but has never played another football game with that all-important number next to their name. Only 6 formerly ranked schools have gone longer without an AP ranking, and while Cornell and New Mexico State haven’t received votes in a very long time, every other team “ahead” of the Hoosiers has also graced “Receiving Votes” this decade, including such notable football teams as Rice, SMU, North Texas, and Louisiana.

Since Indiana was last in the AP Top 25:

  • 413 AP football polls have been conducted.
  • 298 different songs have hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart
  • the world’s population increased from 5.6 billion people to 7.7 billion
  • nearly 3 decades have ended
  • an entire millennium ended
  • Palau, Timor-Leste, Montenegro, Serbia, and South Sudan all became recognized independent nations
  • the entire Pokemon franchise came into existence
  • Pixar began releasing major theatrical films
  • Major League Soccer was founded
  • the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings, Cleveland Cavaliers, and New Orleans Saints all ended championship droughts of at least 40 years

In 1994 alone:

  • The Game Show Network debuted
  • Korn released their debut album
  • The Shawshank Redemption, Star Trek: Generations, Dumb and Dumber, Street Fighter, and Pulp Fiction hit US theaters
  • Friends debuted on NBC

So, as you can plainly see, a lot has happened since the last time the Associated Press thought Indiana football was one of the 25 best college football teams in the nation. And given how IU has looked for most of those 25 years, and particularly how they looked last Saturday, it may yet be another 25 years before they return to the rankings.