AP Women's Poll History: The Conference Scene

By Mel Greenberg

This week's Associated Press women's poll brought out a few notable occurrences led by Connecticut now taking single ownership of the longest run at No. 1. The Huskies have been ranked for 37 straight weeks dating to Feb. 18, 2008, snapping the 36-week, two-year wire-to-wire run by Louisiana Tech 1980-82.

The Techsters spent the first half in the final year of full participation in the former Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) and the second half in the inaugural year of NCAA competition, winning national titles both times.

Nebraska, in moving up to No. 4, made its first-ever Top 5 appearance after cracking the Top 10 for the first time several weeks ago. Xavier reached a new high at seventh, while Oklahoma State made its Top 10 debut at No. 10, although coach Kurt Budke has been there before with Louisiana Tech.

West Virginia matched a high reaching No. 11.

Matthew Mitchell made his coaching debut in the poll courtesy of Kentucky's return to the rankings.

Georgia with 444 appearances needs five more rankings to move into second place all-time in appearances ahead of Louisiana Tech and behind Tennessee. Connecticut needs four more rankings to move into sixth ahead of Penn State which dropped out after a one-week return.

The ouster of Virginia enabled Ohio State Jim Foster to move into a three-way tie for eighth place with Virginia coach Debbie Ryan and the late North Carolina State coach at 326 appearances. The total is 10 behind former Penn State coach Rene Portland. Foster is one of a few coaches topped by Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer.

Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow, the sister of Kay Yow, was the first to achieve the triple feat, a milestone she constantly reminds the Guru of whenever he visit the Terrapins for games in College Park.

St. John's, which returned to the rankings this week, has been there under three different coaches -- currently Kim Barnes Arico, and formerly under Don Perrelli and Joe Mullaney Jr., who is now an associate head coach to Harry Perretta at Villanova.

Here is a catch-up look at overall conference performance in the NCAA era by currently existing conferences. The first ranking includes conferences whose current members have been ranked, and the second is a ranking of actual conferences whose members were current at the time of the ranking.

An example is the Atlantic 10, which is 11th with current members but seventh when Rutgers and Penn State and West Virginia are factored in at the time they were in the conference.

None of the current group of independents have ever been ranked, but independents are included in the actual group due to Penn State's limbo season between the Atlantic 10 and Big 10, as well as time served by Louisiana Tech and a few others.

Princeton has made it a rarity for the Ivy League, getting votes and maybe eventual support to take the Ivies out of the list of conferences to have never had a team appear. The others are Big South, Mid-Eastern Athletic (MEAC), Northeast and Patriot. The SWAC and Atlantic Sun have never had an actual ranking, but the SWAC's Jackson State was ranked in the AIAW era, while the same goes for the Atlantic Sun's Mercer.

Here is the ranking of conference appearance totals of current members.

1. Southeastern 2,861 -- fueled by Tennessee, Georgia and Vanderbilt.

2. Atlantic Coast 1,962

3. Big Twelve 1,940

4. Big Ten 1,512

5. Big East 1,216

6. Pac-Ten 1,209

7. Western Athletic 511 (helped by Louisiana Tech)

8. Colonial Athletic Association 337 (helped by Old Dominion)

8. Mountain West 337

10. Big West 287

11. Atlantic Ten 247

12. Southland 239

13. Sun Belt 222

14. Conference-USA 146

15. Missouri Valley 95

16. Horizon 49 -- solely by Detroit (AIAW) and Wis.-Green Bay

17. Mid-American 43

18. Ohio Valley 36 helped by Tennessee Tech mainly in the Marynell Meadors era

19. Big Sky 23 all Montana

20. West Coast 20 San Francisco, Santa Clara and Gonzaga

21. America East 14 all Vermont

21. Atlantic Sun 14 all Mercer

23. Metro Atlantic 12 St. Peter's and Marist

23. Summit League 12 South Dakota State and Yow's one-week deal with Oral Roberts

25. SWAC 4 all Jackson State

25. Southern 4 all Tennessee-Chattanooga then coached by Sharon Fanning-Otis


Here are the rankings totals that went to conferences at the time of the ranking

1. Southeastern Southeastern 2,579

2. Atlantic Coast 1,632

3. Big Ten 1,321

4, Big Twelve 1,125

5.  Big East, 1,045

6. Pac-Ten 926

7. Atlantic Ten 443

8. Sun Belt 434 once had Louisiana Tech and Old Dominion

9. Independents 263 helped by Penn State, Louisiana Tech and Cheyney under Stringer

10. Big West 238

11. Colonial Athletic Association 171

12. Southland 146

13. Conference-USA 135 some now live in the Big East

14. Mountain West 132

15. Western Athletic 104

16. Missouri Valley 51

17. Big Sky 33

18. Horizon 32 all Wis.-Green Bay

19. Mid-American 26

20. Metro Atlantic 21 La Salle, St. Peter's and Marist

21. Ohio Valley 20

22. America East 14 all Veromont

23.  Summit League 11

24. West Coast 6

25. Southern 4

More dynmaics to come

  -- Mel