NCAA Division I FBS National Football Championship

NCAA Division I FBS National Football Championship

The NCAA Division I FBS National Football Championship is a mythical national championship won by what many consider the best team(s) in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The FBS is the only sport that does not have an official NCAA national championship. Over the years, many selectors using polls and mathematical systems have named national champions. Selections made by the most "legitimate" polls and, since 1998, the BCS are often considered "consensus" championships. These "national championships" have been a point of major controversy since the creation of the Dickinson System in 1926.


In 1926, Frank Dickinson created the Dickinson System, which ranked college football teams nationally for the first time. The concept of a national champion predated the mathematical system, but Dickinson was the first to organize the argument. His system named 10-0 Stanford the national champion of 1926, prior to their tie with Alabama in the Rose Bowl. A curious Knute Rockne, then coach of Notre Dame, had Dickinson backdate two seasons, which produced Notre Dame as the 1924 national champion (and Dartmouth in 1925).

A number of other mathematical systems were born in the 1920s and '30's and were the only organized methods selecting national champions until the Associated Press began polling sportswriters in 1936 to obtain rankings. Alan J. Gould, the creator of the AP poll, named Minnesota, Princeton, and SMU tri-champions in 1935, and polled writers the next year, which resulted in a national championship for juggernaut Minnesota. The AP poll was the most sensational and famous selector from its inception until 1950.

The AP's main competition, United Press, created the first poll of coaches in 1950. For that year and the next three, the AP and UP agreed on the national champion. The first "split" championship occurred in 1954, when the writers selected Ohio State and the coaches chose UCLA. The polls also disagreed in 1957, 1965, 1970, 1973, 1974, and 1978, the latter of which was followed by eleven years of agreement. The coaches poll would stay with UP when they merged with INS to form UPI but was acquired by USA Today and CNN in 1991. The poll was in the hands of ESPN from 1997 to 2005 before moving to its present sole ownership by USA Today.

Though some of the math systems selected champions after the bowl games, both of the major polls released their rankings after the end of the regular season until the AP polled writers after the bowls in 1965, resulting in a better championship selection (Alabama) than UPI's (Michigan State). After 1965, the AP voted before the bowls for two years, permanently returning to a post-bowl vote in 1968. The coaches did not vote after the bowls until 1974, in the wake of awarding their 1973 championship to Alabama, who lost to the AP champion, undefeated Notre Dame, in the Sugar Bowl.

The AP and coaches polls remain the major rankings to this day, alongside the Bowl Championship Series, the modern math giant. The BCS was the successor of the Bowl Alliance (1995-1997), which was the successor of the Bowl Coalition (1992-1994). Besides the many adjustments it undergoes each season, including a large overhaul following the 2004 season that included the replacement of the AP poll with the Harris poll, the BCS has remained a mixture of math and polls since its inception in 1998, with the goal of matching the best two teams in the nation in a national championship game (1998-2005) and later the BCS title game (2006-present). The BCS has resulted in a number of controversies, most notably those that followed the 2003 and 2004 seasons.



The mathematical system is the oldest systematic selector of college football national champions. Many of the math selectors were created during the "championship rush" of the 1920s and '30's, beginning with Frank Dickinson's system, or during the dawn of the computer age in the 1990s. Selectors are listed below with years selected retroactively in "italics". The BCS, while also using polls, is the only math selector to have ever been considered a consensus selector. Its years are listed in bold to show that.

National Champions (Year-by-Year)

Below is a list of the national champions of college football from 1869-present (with the exception of 1871, in which no games were played). Many teams did not have coaches as late as 1899, when coach-less Princeton won a non-consensus national championship. Champions and selectors are in "italics" when retroactive and bold when consensus.

Consensus selectors are those from the [ list] on the official web site of the NCAA, which is nearly identical to most other lists. From 1869–1935, these selectors were the National Championship Foundation, the Helms Athletic Foundation, and the College Football Researchers Association. From 1936-present, these selectors have been the AP, coaches, FWAA, and NFF polls. From 1998-present the BCS has been the "flagship" consensus selector (with the exception of 2003, in which non-BCS champion USC won the AP championship). Non-consensus selectors are from the NCAA records book and vary widely in credibility.

The first contemporaneous selection was made by Casper Whitney in 1905 (Yale) and the last retroactive selection was made by Clyde Berryman in 1989 (Notre Dame). The tie was removed from college football in 1995 and the last champion with a tie in its record was Florida State in 1994. It is notable that, though Michigan is often credited with a national championship in 1947 on the basis of a "free poll" conducted by an AP sportswriter after the Rose Bowl, that poll was unofficial and it is not recognized in the official [ NCAA records book] .

BCS National Champions by CONFERENCE (1998-present)


TOTAL Consensus & Non-Consensus National Champions (All-Time)


The National Title count listed below is a culmination of ALL polls and National Titles claimed since 1869, regardless of consensus or non-consensus status (these numbers can be said to be LARGELY disputed, where the count is taken from a culmination of all the polls listed earlier in this article)

ee also

*NCAA Division I Football Championship
*NCAA Division II National Football Championship
*NCAA Division III National Football Championship


[ 2007 NCAA Division I Football Records Book]

[ FBS History]

MacCambridge, M. (2005) "ESPN College Football Encyclopedia". New York: ESPN Books. ISBN 1-4013-3703-1

External links

* [ National Collegiate Athletic Association]

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