Extending the Life Cycle of AP All-America
The Associated Press has been honoring the best players in college football since 1925 with its annual All-America team. The AP All-America team is one of five used by the NCAA to determine its consensus All-America team. The release of the team is widely anticipated each December, and even other news organizations that create their own teams report on AP's list. It is the longest running annual honor roll of the nation's top football players, and was first selected a decade before the Heisman Trophy.
For many football fans, the AP All-America team is the official All-America team of the season. Especially those who grew watching Bob Hope introduce the All-Americans to millions of television viewers during his yearly Christmas special.
Comedian Bob Hope is pictured at a taping session Monday, December 10, 1979, in NBC's Burbank Studios with members of the Associated Press All-America football team. With Hope are: Billy Sims of Oklahoma, left, and Charles White of USC, Heisman Trophy winner. Sims won the Heisman Trophy in 1978. (AP Photo)
In 2017, the AP is expanding the life cycle of the All-America team to include a preseason All-America Team, a mid-season All-America team and a weekly watch column by AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. Weekly mini-podcasts with panel voters will delve into the backgrounds of players with rising stock. The column will feature a player that may have started the season under the radar but who is rising, feature upcoming matchups between potential All America selections and "heat check" the performance of preseason selections. Video reports from campuses, secured through partnerships with individual schools, can highlight the rising players and introduce them to the wider audience.
Ahead of the NFL combine, the AP will offer a series of stories looking at best picks viewers have never heard of, pulling from the selections on AP's FCS and Little All-America teams. A player's selection to the team is already an important biographical fact, featured prominently in labeling on the NFL network and in background material.
By extending the life cycle of the All-America team from the start of the season through the NFL combine, we can create more anticipation for the team's end-of-season release and opportunities for engagement from schools and fan bases.
Schools are already connecting with AP's brand by promoting their selection to the team. AP offers All-America teams for FBS and FCS and compiles a "Little All-America" list honoring players from Divisions II, III and NAIA. By providing schools with AP's branding assets and suggested social media materials ahead of the release, we can bring consistency to the release and connect AP's brand with fans.
Expanding Our Expertise: New Polls
Pearl Gonzalez lands a punch against Cynthia Calvillo during a strawweight mixed martial arts bout at UFC 210, Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
The AP Top 25 brand itself has value beyond college sports. People trust the brand as a fair national ranking system. What if we brought the AP Top 25 brand to other competitions? UFC has reached out to us to discuss independent ranking of mixed martial arts athletes. Boxing rankings are notoriously rigged by promoters, but an AP ranking of fighters could bring better understanding to fans. Or, how about a global soccer club ranking so fans in Germany can compare their teams to those in Asia or South America? And new contests are emerging, particularly in esports, an industry crying out for legitimacy and a fair ranking system to help fans make sense of the crowded field.
The Future: Why It Matters
Making the Top 25 portfolio accessible for a new generation of fans ensures our brand remains credible to the audience that is discussing and debating the decisions of our voters. Without our audience's willingness to share and talk about our product, we risk losing some of the credibility we've build over the course of several decades of polls. We are also long overdue to monetize products AP is creating using its own network and expertise. Expanding the portfolio helps extend its reach, find new fans to follow it, and reach new audiences that other news organizations have not yet tapped.