The Associated Press plans to run its weekly Top 25 college football poll even though numerous FBS conferences have announced they will postpone their seasons amid the COVID-19 pandemic, per the AP's Ralph D. Russo.
The preseason poll will be published Aug. 24 and include all Division I teams, including those in conferences that have opted against playing football this fall. Voters will not include those teams in subsequent polls, however.
The AP also plans to reveal its preseason All-America team Aug. 25.
Michael Giarrusso, AP's global sports editor, explained the rationale for including all teams in the preseason poll: "The preseason poll has always been a speculative ranking of teams based on last year's results and knowledge about the new makeup of teams. This year, we think it is crucial to give all the teams and all their fans a snapshot look at what the Top 25 would have been to open the season."
Giarrusso then outlined why the AP will pivot when games begin: "The AP will collect and distribute the votes of our media panel as we always have. Once games kick off, it does not make sense to rank teams that are not participating. There is no solution that will satisfy every fan or every team. But ranking teams that play is the one that makes the most sense."
The AP will also produce polls if there is a spring 2021 season.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 have opted against playing fall sports in 2020, as have the Mid-American and Mountain West conferences. The Big 12, ACC and SEC will attempt to hold adjusted seasons that will start later in September and feature slates almost entirely comprised of intra-conference games.
The American Athletic Conference, Sun Belt Conference and Conference USA will also play on. The College Football Playoff National Championship is still scheduled to be held, per Emily Giambalvo of the Washington Post.
The first FBS football games on the 2020 ledger are scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 3, when FCS team Murray State plays Georgia State, while South Alabama visits Southern Mississippi. The first game to feature a Power Five team will take place one week later when Miami hosts UAB.