College football national championships in NCAA Division I FBS

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National championships in NCAA Division I FBS
Current SystemCollege Football Playoff (2014–present)
National Championship TrophiesAP (since 1936),
AFCA (since 1986),
MacArthur (since 1959),
Grantland Rice (since 1954)
Longest Continuous SelectorAssociated Press (1936–present)
First Season Awarded1869
Last Completed Season2013
 
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National championships in NCAA Division I FBS
Current SystemCollege Football Playoff (2014–present)
National Championship TrophiesAP (since 1936),
AFCA (since 1986),
MacArthur (since 1959),
Grantland Rice (since 1954)
Longest Continuous SelectorAssociated Press (1936–present)
First Season Awarded1869
Last Completed Season2013

A college football national championship in the highest level of play in the United States, currently the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), is a designation awarded annually by various third-party organizations to their selection(s) of the best college football team(s). Division I FBS football is the only NCAA sport in which a yearly champion is not determined by an NCAA-sanctioned championship event. Because of this, it is sometimes unofficially referred to as a "mythical national championship".[1][2][3][4]

Due to the lack of an official NCAA championship, determining the nation's top college football team has often engendered controversy.[5] A championship team is independently declared by various individuals and organizations, often referred to as "selectors".[6][7] These choices are sometimes not unanimous.[5] While the NCAA has never officially endorsed a championship team, it has documented the choices of several selectors in the official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records.[8] In addition, various third party analysts have independently published their own lists of what they have determined to be the most legitimate selections for each season. These are also often at odds with each other as well as individual school's claims on national championships, which, for any particular season, may or may not correlate to the selections published elsewhere.

Currently, two widely recognized national champion selectors are the Associated Press, which conducts a poll of sportswriters, and the Coaches' Poll, a poll of American Football Coaches Association active coaches from around the country.

History[edit]

The concept of a national championship in college football dates to the early years of the sport in late 19th century,[9] and the earliest contemporaneous polls can be traced to Caspar Whitney, Charles Patterson, and The Sun in 1901.[10] Therefore, the concept of polls and national champions predated mathematical ranking systems, but it was Frank Dickinson's math system that was one of the first to be widely popularized. 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 1930s 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 following year, which resulted in a national championship for Minnesota. 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 two polls also disagreed in 1957, 1965, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1991, 1997, and 2003. The Coaches' Poll would stay with United Press (UP) when they merged with International News Service (INS) to form United Press International (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 what was perceived at the time as a better championship selection (Alabama) than UPI's (Michigan State). After 1965, the AP again voted before the bowls for two years, before permanently returning to a post-bowl vote in 1968. The coaches did not conduct a 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.

The Bowl Championship Series, considered the modern math giant, was the successor of the Bowl Alliance (1995–1997), which was itself 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 remained a mixture of math and human polls since its inception in 1998, with the goal of matching the best two teams in the nation in a national championship bowl game which rotated yearly between the Sugar, Fiesta, Rose, and Orange from 1998 to 2005, and later a standalone game titled the BCS National Championship Game (2006 to 2013). The winner of the BCS Championship Game was awarded the national championship of the Coaches' Poll thus winning the AFCA National Championship Trophy. The BCS winner also received the MacArthur Trophy from the National Football Foundation. Neither the AP Poll, nor other current selectors, had contractual obligations to select the BCS champion as their national champion.[11][12] The BCS resulted in a number of controversies, most notably after the 2003 season, when the BCS championship game did not include eventual AP champion USC, the only time the two championships have diverged since the advent of the BCS. After many seasons of controversy, the BCS was replaced with the College Football Playoff, a Plus-One system aimed at reducing the controversy involved in which teams get to play in a championship game through use of a playoff.

National championships in the official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision records[edit]

The NCAA maintains an official records book of historical statistics and records for football. In the records book, with consultation from various college football historians, it has created and maintains a list of "major selectors" of national championships throughout the history of college football along with their championship picks for each season.[8]

Major selectors[edit]

A variety of selectors have named national champions throughout the years. They generally can be divided into three categories: those determined by mathematical formula, human polls, and historical research. The selectors below are listed in the official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records as having been deemed to be "major selectors" for which the criteria is that the poll or selector be "national in scope either through distribution in newspaper, television, radio and/or computer online".[6] The former selectors, deemed instrumental in the sport of college football, and selectors that were included for the calculation of the BCS standing, are listed together.[13]

Math[edit]

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 1930s, 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.[14][15]

SelectorNameSeasons
A&HAnderson & Hester1997–present
ASAlderson System1994–1998
B(QPRS)Berryman (QPRS)1940–1989, 1990–2006
BCS*Bowl Championship Series1998–2013
BRBillingsley Report1869–1870, 1872–1969, 1970–present
BSBoand System1919–1929, 1930–1960
CCRCongrove Computer Rankings1993–present
CMColley Matrix2001–present
CWCaspar Whitney1905–1907
DeSDeVold System1939–1944, 1945–2006
DiSDickinson System1924–1925, 1926–1940
DuSDunkel System1929–present
ERSEck Ratings System1987–2005
HSHoulgate System1885, 1887–1905, 1907–1926, 1927–1949
LLitkenhous1934–1972, 1974, 1978, 1981–1984
MCFRMassey College Football Ratings1995–present
MGRMatthews Grid Ratings1966–1972, 1974–2006
NYTNew York Times1979–2004
PSPoling System1924–1934, 1935–1955, 1957–1984
R(FACT)Rothman (FACT)1968–2006
SRSagarin Ratings1919–1977, 1978–present
WWolfe2001–present
WSWilliamson System1931, 1932–1963

*The BCS used a mathematical system that combined polls (Coaches' and Harris) and multiple computer rankings (including some individual selectors listed above) to determine a season ending matchup between its top two ranked teams in the BCS Championship Game. The champion of that game was contractually awarded the Coaches' Poll and National Football Foundation championships.

Poll[edit]

The poll has been the dominant national champion selector since the inception of the AP Poll in 1936. It is notable that the NFF merged with UPI from 1991 to 1992 and USA Today from 1993 to 1994. Selectors are listed below with years selected retroactively in italics.

For many years, the national champion of various polls were selected prior to the bowl games. The national champion was selected before bowl games as follows: AP (1936–1964 and 1966–1967), Coaches' Poll (1950–1973), FWAA (1954), and NFF (1959–1970). In all other latter-day polls, champions were selected after bowl games.[8]

During the BCS era, the winner of BCS Championship Game was automatically awarded the national championship of the Coaches' Poll and the National Football Foundation.

SelectorNameSeasons
APAssociated Press1936–present
Coaches'
  UPI
  USAT/CNN
  USAT/ESPN
  USAT
  USAT/AMWAY
American Football Coaches Association
  United Press International
  USA Today/CNN
  USA Today/ESPN
  USA Today
  USA Today/Amway
1950–present
  1950–1990
  1991–1996
  1997–2004
  2005–2013
  2014-present
CFRACollege Football Researchers Association1919–1935, 1936–1981, 1982–1992, 2010–present
FNFootball News1958–2002
FWAAFootball Writers Association of America1954–2013
FWAA/NFFFWAA-NFF Grantland Rice Super 162014–presente
HAFHelms Athletic Foundation1883–1935, 1936–1940, 1941–1982
INSInternational News Service1952–1957
NCFNational Championship Foundation1869–1870, 1872–1935, 1936–1979, 1980–2000
NFFNational Football Foundation1959–1990,b,d 1995–2013
SNSporting News1975–2006
UPIUnited Press International1950–1990,a 1993–1995
UPI/NFFUnited Press International/National Football Foundation1991–1992b
USATUSA Today2005–2013a
USAT/AMWAYUSA Today/Amway2014-presenta
USAT/CNNUSA Today/CNN1982–1996c
USAT/ESPNUSA Today/ESPN1997–2004a
USAT/NFFUSA Today/National Football Foundation1993–1994d

aServed as the Coaches' Poll during the designated years. The 2004 AFCA National Championship awarded to USC in conjunction with the BCS was vacated by the BCS and the AFCA Coaches' Trophy was returned.[16]

bThe UPI Poll conducted the Coaches' Poll through the 1990 season, which was subsequently taken over by the CNN/USAToday. UPI then conducted a poll of National Football Foundation members in 1991 and 1992, the winner of which was designated by the NFF as its national champion and received the MacArthur Trophy.

cUSAT/CNN conducted its own poll of college football sportswriters until it took over the Coaches' Poll starting with the 1991 season.

dUSA Today took over the poll of the National Football Foundation's members in 1993 from the UPI, and its winner was designated by the NFF as its national champion and received the MacArthur Trophy. The poll was conducted by USA Today through the 1996 season, although national championship selections in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records do not distinguish the NFF from the USAT/NFF poll in 1995 and 1996. USA Today conducted this poll separately from the CNN/USAToday Coaches' Poll, and the two should not be confused.

eThe Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation partnered to form the FWAA-NFF Grantland Rice Super 16 poll beginning in 2014[17]

In addition to these, since 2005 the BCS has commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct a poll of former college football players, coaches, and administrators. This human poll is used to help calculate the BCS standings. No final poll is taken after the BCS championship game and no national championship is awarded or named by Harris Interactive.[18]

Research[edit]

College football historian Parke H. Davis is the only selector considered by the NCAA to have primarily used research in his selections.[6] Davis did all of his work in 1933, naming retroactive national champions for most of the years from 1869 to 1932 and naming Michigan and Princeton (his alma mater) co-champions at the end of the 1933 season.

SelectorNameSeasons
PDParke H. Davis1869–1870, 1872–1909, 1911–1916, 1919–1932, 1933

Yearly national championship selections from major selectors[edit]

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) deemed to be chosen by "major selectors" as listed in the official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records.[8] Many teams did not have coaches as late as 1899. "Consensus" selectors in the official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records correspond to the period from 1950 to present which began with the introduction of the two poll system upon the appearance of the Coaches Poll in 1950. Selectors used to determine teams listed as "Consensus National Champions" in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records include the AP Poll, Coaches' Poll, Football Writers Association of America, and the National Football Foundation/College Football Hall of Fame.[19]

The first contemporaneous poll to include teams across the country and selection of a national champions can be traced to Caspar Whitney in 1901.[10] 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 consensus champion with a tie in its record was Georgia Tech in 1990. The 1947 Michigan Wolverines are often credited with a national championship on the basis of a "free poll" conducted by an AP sportswriter after the 1948 Rose Bowl, though that poll was unofficial and it is not recognized in the official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records.[6]

Note that the Harris Interactive Poll (2005–present) was contracted by the BCS to help formulate its standings, and although its final ranking which occurs prior to the bowl games is listed in the official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records, it does not conduct a final poll or award or name a national champion on its own and so has been eliminated from the following table.[18]

As designated by the official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records, the table below shows:

SeasonChampion(s)RecordCoachSelector(s)
1869Princeton1–1BR, NCF, PD
Rutgers1–1PD
1870Princeton1–0BR, NCF, PD
1871None (no games)N/AN/A
1872Princeton1–0BR, NCF, PD
Yale1–0PD
1873Princeton1–0BR, NCF, PD
1874Harvard1–1PD
Princeton2–0BR, PD
Yale3–0NCF, PD
1875Columbia3–1–1PD
Harvard4–0NCF, PD
Princeton2–0BR, PD
1876Yale3–0BR, NCF, PD
1877Princeton2–0–1BR, PD
Yale3–0–1NCF, PD
1878Princeton6–0BR, NCF, PD
1879Princeton4–0–1BR, NCF, PD
Yale3–0–2PD
1880Princeton4–0–1NCF, PD
Yale4–0–1BR, NCF, PD
1881Princeton7–0–2BR, PD
Yale5–0–1NCF, PD
1882Yale8–0BR, NCF, PD
1883Yale9–0BR, HAF, NCF, PD
1884Princeton9–0–1BR, PD
Yale8–0–1HAF, NCF, PD
1885Princeton9–0BR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
1886Princeton7–0–1BR, PD
Yale9–0–1HAF, NCF, PD
1887Yale9–0BR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
1888Yale13–0Walter CampBR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
1889Princeton10–0BR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
1890Harvard11–0George C. Adams, George A. StewartBR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
1891Yale13–0Walter CampBR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
1892Yale13–0Walter CampBR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
1893Princeton11–0BR, HAF, HS, NCF
Yale10–1William RhodesPD
1894Penn12–0George Washington WoodruffPD
Princeton8–2HS
Yale16–0William RhodesBR, HAF, NCF, PD
1895Penn14–0George Washington WoodruffBR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
Yale13–0–2Josh HartwellPD
1896Lafayette11–0–1Parke H. DavisNCF, PD
Princeton10–0–1BR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
1897Penn15–0George Washington WoodruffBR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
Yale9–0–2Frank ButterworthPD
1898Harvard11–0William ForbesBR, HAF, HS, NCF
Princeton11–0–1PD
1899Harvard10–0–1Benjamin DibbleeHAF, HS, NCF
Princeton12–1BR, PD
1900Yale12–0Malcolm McBrideBR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
1901Harvard12–0Bill ReidBR
Michigan11–0Fielding H. YostHAF, HS, NCF
Yale11–1–1George S. StillmanPD
1902Michigan11–0Fielding H. YostBR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
Yale11–0–1Joseph R. SwanPD
1903Michigan11–0–1Fielding H. YostNCF
Princeton11–0Art HillebrandBR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
1904Michigan10–0Fielding H. YostNCF
Minnesota13–0Henry WilliamsBR
Penn12–0Carl S. WilliamsHAF, HS, NCF, PD
1905Chicago10–0Amos Alonzo StaggBR, HAF, HS, NCF
Yale10–0Jack OwsleyCW, PD
1906Princeton9–0–1William RoperHAF, NCF
Yale9–0–1Foster RockwellBR, CW, PD
1907Yale9–0–1William F. KnoxBR, CW, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
1908Harvard9–0–1Percy HaughtonBR
LSU10–0Edgar WingardNCF
Penn11–0–1Sol MetzgerHAF, HS, NCF, PD
1909Yale10–0Howard JonesBR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
1910Harvard8–0–1Percy HaughtonBR, HAF, HS, NCF
Pittsburgh9–0Joseph ThompsonNCF
1911Penn State8–0–1Bill HollenbackNCF
Princeton8–0–2William RoperBR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
1912Harvard9–0Percy HaughtonBR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
Penn State8–0Bill HollenbackNCF
1913Auburn8–0Mike DonahueBR
Chicago7–0Amos Alonzo StaggPD
Harvard9–0Percy HaughtonHAF, HS, NCF, PD
1914Army9–0Charles DalyHAF, HS, NCF, PD
Illinois7–0Robert ZuppkePD
Texas8–0Dave AllerdiceBR
1915Cornell9–0Albert SharpeHAF, HS, NCF, PD
Oklahoma10–0Bennie OwenBR
Pittsburgh8–0Glenn WarnerPD
1916Army9–0Charles DalyPD
Pittsburgh8–0Glenn WarnerBR, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
1917Georgia Tech9–0John HeismanBR, HAF, HS, NCF
1918Michigan5–0Fielding H. YostBR, NCF
Pittsburgh4–1Glenn WarnerHAF, HS, NCF
1919Centre9–0Charley MoranSR
Harvard9–0–1Bob FisherCFRA, HAF, HS, NCF, PD
Illinois6–1Robert ZuppkeBS, CFRA, PD, SR
Notre Dame9–0Knute RockneNCF, PD
Texas A&M10–0Dana BibleBR, NCF
1920California9–0Andy SmithCFRA, HAF, HS, NCF, SR
Harvard8–0–1Bob FisherBS
Notre Dame9–0Knute RockneBR, PD
Princeton6–0–1William RoperBS, PD
1921California9–0–1Andy SmithBR, BS, CFRA, SR
Cornell8–0Gil DobieHAF, HS, NCF, PD
Iowa7–0Howard JonesPD
Lafayette9–0Jock SutherlandBS, PD
Washington & Jefferson10–0–1Greasy NealeBS
1922California9–0Andy SmithBR, HS, NCF, SR
Cornell8–0Gil DobieHAF, PD
Princeton8–0William RoperBS, CFRA, NCF, PD, SR
1923California9–0–1Andy SmithHS
Cornell8–0Gil DobieSR
Illinois8–0Robert ZuppkeBS, CFRA, HAF, NCF, PD, SR
Michigan8–0Fielding H. YostBR, NCF
1924Notre Dame10–0Knute RockneBR, BS, CFRA, DiS, HAF, HS, NCF, PS, SR
Penn9–1–1Lou YoungPD
1925Alabama10–0Wallace WadeBR, BS, CFRA, HAF, HS, NCF, PS, SR
Dartmouth8–0Jesse HawleyDiS, PD
Michigan7–1Fielding H. YostSR
1926Alabama9–0–1Wallace WadeBR, CFRA, HAF, NCF, PS
Lafayette9–0Herb McCrackenPD
Michigan7–1Fielding H. YostSR
Navy9–0–1Bill IngramBS, HS
Stanford10–0–1Glenn WarnerDiS, HAF, NCF, SR
1927Georgia9–1George Cecil WoodruffBS, PS
Illinois7–0–1Robert ZuppkeBR, DiS, HAF, NCF, PD
Notre Dame7–1–1Knute RockneHS
Texas A&M8–0–1Dana BibleSR
Yale7–1Thomas JonesCFRA
1928Detroit9–0Gus DoraisPD
Georgia Tech10–0William AlexanderBR, BS, CFRA, HAF, HS, NCF, PD, PS, SR
USC9–0–1Howard JonesDiS, SR
1929Notre Dame9–0Knute RockneBR, BS, CFRA, DiS, DuS, HAF, NCF, PS, SR
Pittsburgh9–1Jock SutherlandPD
USC10–2Howard JonesHS, SR
1930Alabama10–0Wallace WadeCFRA, PD, SR
Notre Dame10–0Knute RockneBR, BS, DiS, DuS, HAF, HS, NCF, PD, PS
1931Pittsburgh8–1Jock SutherlandPD
Purdue9–1Noble KizerPD
USC10–1Howard JonesBR, BS, CFRA, DiS, DuS, HAF, HS, NCF, PS, SR, WS
1932Colgate9–0Andrew KerrPD
Michigan8–0Harry KipkeDiS, PD, SR
USC10–0Howard JonesBR, BS, CFRA, DuS, HAF, HS, NCF, PD, PS, SR, WS
1933Michigan7–0–1Harry KipkeBR, BS, CFRA, DiS, HAF, HS, NCF, PD, PS, SR
Ohio State7–1Sam WillamanDuS
Princeton9–0Fritz CrislerPD
USC10–1–1Howard JonesWS
1934Alabama10–0Frank ThomasDuS, HS, PS, WS
Minnesota8–0Bernie BiermanBR, BS, CFRA, DiS, HAF, L, NCF, SR
1935LSU9–2Bernie MooreWS
Minnesota8–0Bernie BiermanBR, BS, CFRA, HAF, L, NCF, PS
Princeton9–0Fritz CrislerDuS
SMU12–1Matty BellDiS, HS, SR
TCU12–1Dutch MeyerWS
1936LSU9–1–1Bernie MooreSR, WS
Minnesota7–1Bernie BiermanAP, BR, DiS, DuS, HAF, L, NCF, PS
Pittsburgh8–1–1Jock SutherlandBS, CFRA, HS
1937California10–0–1Stub AllisonDuS, HAF
Pittsburgh9–0–1Jock SutherlandAP, BR, BS, CFRA, DiS, HS, L, NCF, PS, SR, WS
1938Notre Dame8–1Elmer LaydenDiS
TCU11–0Dutch MeyerAP, HAF, NCF, WS
Tennessee11–0Robert NeylandBR, BS, CFRA, DuS, HS, L, PS, SR
1939Cornell8–0Carl SnavelyL, SR
Texas A&M11–0Homer NortonAP, BR, BS, CFRA, DeS, DuS, HAF, HS, NCF, PS, SR, WS
USC8–0–2Howard JonesDiS
1940Minnesota8–0Bernie BiermanAP, B(QPRS), BS, CFRA, DeS, DiS, HS, L, NCF, SR
Stanford10–0Clark ShaughnessyBR, HAF, PS
Tennessee10–1Bob NeylandDuS, WS
1941Alabama9–2Frank ThomasHS
Minnesota8–0Bernie BiermanAP, BR, BS, CFRA, DeS, DuS, HAF, L, NCF, PS, SR
Texas8–1–1Dana BibleB(QPRS), WS
1942Georgia11–1Wally ButtsB(QPRS), BR, DeS, HS, L, PS, SR, WS
Ohio State9–1Paul BrownAP, BS, DuS, CFRA, NCF
Wisconsin8–1–1Harry StuhldreherHAF
1943Notre Dame9–1Frank LeahyAP, B(QPRS), BR, BS, CFRA, DeS, DuS, HAF, HS, L, NCF, PS, SR, WS
1944Army9–0Earl BlaikAP, B(QPRS), BR, BS, CFRA, DeS, DuS, HAF, HS, L, NCF, PS, SR, WS
Ohio State9–0Carroll WiddoesNCF, SR
1945Alabama10–0Frank ThomasNCF
Army9–0Earl BlaikAP, B(QPRS), BR, BS, CFRA, DeS, DuS, HAF, HS, L, NCF, PS, SR, WS
1946Army9–0–1Earl BlaikBR, BS, CFRA, HAF, HS, PS
Georgia11–0Wally ButtsWS
Notre Dame8–0–1Frank LeahyAP, B(QPRS), BS, DeS, DuS, HAF, L, NCF, PS, SR
1947Michigan10–0Fritz CrislerB(QPRS), BR, BS, CFRA, DeS, DuS, HAF, HS, L, NCF, PS, SR
Notre Dame9–0Frank LeahyAP, HAF, WS
1948Michigan9–0Bennie OosterbaanAP, B(QPRS), BR, BS, CFRA, DeS, DuS, HAF, HS, L, NCF, PS, SR, WS
1949Notre Dame10–0Frank LeahyAP, B(QPRS), BR, BS, DeS, DuS, HAF, HS, L, NCF, PS, SR, WS
Oklahoma11–0Bud WilkinsonCFRA
1950Kentucky11–1Bear BryantSR
Oklahoma10–1Bud WilkinsonAP, B(QPRS), HAF, L, UPI, WS
Princeton9–0Charley CaldwellBS, PS
Tennessee11–1Robert NeylandBR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, NCF, SR
1951Georgia Tech11–0–1Bobby DoddB(QPRS), BS
Illinois9–0–1Ray EliotBS
Maryland10–0Jim TatumCFRA, DeS, DuS, NCF, SR
Michigan State9–0Biggie MunnBR, HAF, PS
Tennessee10–1Robert NeylandAP, L, UPI, WS
1952Georgia Tech12–0Bobby DoddB(QPRS), BR, INS, PS, SR
Michigan State9–0Biggie MunnAP, BS, CFRA, DeS, DuS, HAF, L, NCF, SR, UPI, WS
1953Maryland10–1Jim TatumAP, INS, UPI
Notre Dame9–0–1Frank LeahyBR, BS, DeS, DuS, HAF, L, NCF, PS, SR, WS
Oklahoma9–1–1Bud WilkinsonB(QPRS), CFRA
1954Ohio State10–0Woody HayesAP, B(QPRS), BR, BS, CFRA, DeS, HAF, INS, NCF, PS, SR, WS
UCLA9–0Henry SandersCFRA, DuS, FWAA, HAF, L, NCF, UPI
1955Michigan State9–1Duffy DaughertyBS
Oklahoma11–0Bud WilkinsonAP, B(QPRS), BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, FWAA, HAF, INS, L, NCF, PS, SR, UPI, WS
1956Georgia Tech10–1Bobby DoddB(QPRS), SR
Iowa9–1Forest EvashevskiCFRA
Oklahoma10–0Bud WilkinsonAP, BR, BS, DeS, DuS, FWAA, HAF, INS, L, NCF, SR, UPI, WS
Tennessee10–1Bowden WyattSR
1957Auburn10–0Ralph JordanAP, BR, CFRA, HAF, NCF, PS, SR, WS
Michigan State8–1Duffy DaughertyDuS
Ohio State9–1Woody HayesBS, DeS, FWAA, INS, L, UPI
Oklahoma10–1Bud WilkinsonB(QPRS)
1958Iowa8–1–1Forest EvashevskiFWAA
LSU11–0Paul DietzelAP, B(QPRS), BR, BS, CFRA, DeS, DuS, FN, HAF, L, NCF, PS, SR, UPI, WS
1959Mississippi10–1Johnny VaughtB(QPRS), DuS, SR
Syracuse11–0Ben SchwartzwalderAP, BR, BS, CFRA, DeS, FN, FWAA, HAF, L, NCF, NFF, PS, SR, UPI, WS
1960Iowa8–1Forest EvashevskiB(QPRS), BS, L, SR
Minnesota8–2Murray WarmathAP, FN, NFF, UPI
Mississippi10–0–1Johnny VaughtBR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, FWAA, NCF, WS
Missouri11–0*Dan DevinePS
Washington10–1Jim OwensHAF
1961Alabama11–0Bear BryantAP, B(QPRS), BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, FN, HAF, L, NCF, NFF, SR, UPI, WS
Ohio State8–0–1Woody HayesFWAA, PS
1962LSU9–1–1Charles McClendonB(QPRS)
Mississippi10–0Johnny VaughtBR, L, SR
USC11–0John McKayAP, B(QPRS), CFRA, DeS, DuS, FN, FWAA, HAF, NCF, NFF, PS, UPI, WS
1963Texas11–0Darrell RoyalAP, B(QPRS), BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, FN, FWAA, HAF, L, NCF, NFF, PS, SR, UPI, WS
1964Alabama10–1Bear BryantAP, B(QPRS), L, UPI
Arkansas11–0Frank BroylesBR, CFRA, FWAA, HAF, NCF, PS, SR
Michigan9–1Bump ElliottDuS
Notre Dame9–1Ara ParseghianDeS, FN, NFF
1965Alabama9–1–1Bear BryantAP, CFRA, FWAA, NCF
Michigan State10–1Duffy DaughertyB(QPRS), BR, DeS, DuS, FN, FWAA, HAF, L, NFF, PS, SR, UPI
1966Alabama11–0Bear BryantB(QPRS), SR
Michigan State9–0–1Duffy DaughertyCFRA, HAF, NFF, PS
Notre Dame9–0–1Ara ParseghianAP, BR, DeS, DuS, FN, FWAA, HAF, L, MGR, NCF, NFF, PS, SR, UPI
1967Notre Dame8–2Ara ParseghianDuS
Oklahoma10–1Chuck FairbanksPS
USC10–1John McKayAP, B(QPRS), BR, CFRA, DeS, FN, FWAA, HAF, MGR, NCF, NFF, SR, UPI
Tennessee9–2Doug DickeyL
1968Georgia8–1–2Vince DooleyL
Ohio State10–0Woody HayesAP, B(QPRS), BR, CFRA, DuS, FN, FWAA, HAF, NCF, NFF, PS, R(FACT), SR, UPI
Texas9–1–1Darrell RoyalDeS, MGR, SR
1969Ohio State8–1Woody HayesMGR
Penn State11–0Joe PaternoR(FACT), SR
Texas11–0Darrell RoyalAP, B(QPRS), BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, FN, FWAA, HAF, L, NCF, NFF, PS, R(FACT), SR, UPI
1970Arizona State11–0Frank KushPS
Nebraska11–0–1Bob DevaneyAP, BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, FN, FWAA, HAF, NCF, R(FACT), SR
Notre Dame10–1Ara ParseghianMGR, R(FACT), SR
Ohio State9–1Woody HayesNFF
Texas10–1Darrell RoyalB(QPRS), L, NFF, R(FACT), UPI
1971Nebraska13–0Bob DevaneyAP, B(QPRS), BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, FN, FWAA, HAF, L, MGR, NCF, NFF, PS, R(FACT), SR, UPI
1972USC12–0John McKayAP, B(QPRS), BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, FN, FWAA, HAF, L, MGR, NCF, NFF, PS, R(FACT), SR, UPI
1973Alabama11–1Bear BryantB(QPRS), UPI
Michigan10–0–1Bo SchembechlerNCF, PS
Notre Dame11–0Ara ParseghianAP, BR, FN, FWAA, HAF, NCF, NFF
Ohio State10–0–1Woody HayesNCF, PS, R(FACT), SR
Oklahoma10–0–1Barry SwitzerCFRA, DeS, DuS, SR
1974Ohio State10–2Woody HayesMGR
Oklahoma11–0Barry SwitzerAP, B(QPRS), BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, FN, HAF, L, NCF, PS, R(FACT), SR
USC10–1–1John McKayFWAA, HAF, NCF, NFF, UPI
1975Alabama11–1Bear BryantMGR
Arizona State12–0Frank KushNCF, SN
Ohio State11–1Woody HayesB(QPRS), HAF, MGR, PS, R(FACT)
Oklahoma11–1Barry SwitzerAP, BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, FN, FWAA, HAF, NCF, NFF, R(FACT), SR, UPI
1976Pittsburgh12–0Johnny MajorsAP, FN, FWAA, HAF, NCF, NFF, PS, R(FACT), SN, SR, UPI
USC11–1John RobinsonB(QPRS), BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, MGR
1977Alabama11–1Bear BryantCFRA
Arkansas11–1Lou HoltzR(FACT)
Notre Dame11–1Dan DevineAP, BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, FN, FWAA, HAF, MGR, NCF, NFF, PS, R(FACT), SN, SR, UPI
Texas11–1Fred AkersB(QPRS), R(FACT), SR
1978Alabama11–1Bear BryantAP, CFRA, FWAA, HAF, NCF, NFF, R(FACT)
Oklahoma11–1Barry SwitzerDeS, DuS, HAF, L, MGR, PS, R(FACT), SR
USC12–1John RobinsonB(QPRS), BR, FN, HAF, NCF, R(FACT), SN, SR, UPI
1979Alabama12–0Bear BryantAP, B(QPRS), BR, DeS, DuS, FN, FWAA, HAF, MGR, NCF, NFF, NYT, PS, R(FACT), SN, SR, UPI
USC11–0–1John RobinsonCFRA
1980Florida State10–2Bobby BowdenR(FACT)
Georgia12–0Vince DooleyAP, B(QPRS), BR, FN, FWAA, HAF, NCF, NFF, PS, R(FACT), SN, SR, UPI
Nebraska10–2Tom OsborneR(FACT)
Oklahoma10–2Barry SwitzerDuS, MGR
Pittsburgh11–1Jackie SherrillCFRA, DeS, NYT, R(FACT), SR
1981Clemson12–0Danny FordAP, B(QPRS), BR, CFRA, DeS, FN, FWAA, HAF, L, MGR, NCF, NFF, NYT, PS, R(FACT), SN, SR, UPI
Nebraska9–3Tom OsborneNCF
Penn State10–2Joe PaternoDuS
Pittsburgh11–1Jackie SherrillNCF
SMU10–1Ron MeyerNCF
Texas10–1–1Fred AkersNCF
1982Nebraska12–1Tom OsborneB(QPRS)
Penn State11–1Joe PaternoAP, BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, FN, FWAA, HAF, L, MGR, NCF, NFF, NYT, PS, R(FACT), SN, SR, UPI, USAT/CNN
SMU11–0–1Bobby CollinsHAF
1983Auburn11–1Pat DyeBR, CFRA, NYT, R(FACT), SR
Miami11–1Howard SchnellenbergerAP, DuS, FN, FWAA, NCF, NFF, SN, UPI, USAT/CNN
Nebraska12–1Tom OsborneB(QPRS), DeS, L, MGR, PS, R(FACT), SR
1984BYU13–0LaVell EdwardsAP, BR, CFRA, FWAA, NCF, NFF, PS, SR, UPI, USAT/CNN
Florida9–1–1Galen HallDeS, DuS, MGR, NYT, R(FACT), SN, SR
Nebraska10–2Tom OsborneL
Washington11–1Don JamesB(QPRS), FN, NCF
1985Florida9–1–1Galen HallSR
Michigan10–1–1Bo SchembechlerMGR
Oklahoma11–1Barry SwitzerAP, B(QPRS), BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, FN, FWAA, NCF, NFF, NYT, R(FACT), SN, UPI, USAT/CNN
1986Miami11–1Jimmy JohnsonR(FACT)
Oklahoma11–1Barry SwitzerB(QPRS), CFRA, DeS, DuS, NYT, SR
Penn State12–0Joe PaternoAP, BR, FN, FWAA, MGR, NCF, NFF, R(FACT), SN, SR, UPI, USAT/CNN
1987Florida State11–1Bobby BowdenB(QPRS)
Miami12–0Jimmy JohnsonAP, BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, ERS, FN, FWAA, MGR, NCF, NFF, NYT, R(FACT), SN, SR, UPI, USAT/CNN
1988Miami11–1Jimmy JohnsonB(QPRS)
Notre Dame12–0Lou HoltzAP, BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, ERS, FN, FWAA, MGR, NCF, NFF, NYT, R(FACT), SN, SR, UPI, USAT/CNN
1989Miami11–1Dennis EricksonAP, BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, FN, FWAA, MGR, NCF, NFF, NYT, R(FACT), SN, UPI, USAT/CNN
Notre Dame12–1Lou HoltzB(QPRS), ERS, R(FACT), SR
1990Colorado11–1–1Bill McCartneyAP, B(QPRS), BR, CFRA, DeS, FN, FWAA, MGR, NCF, NFF, R(FACT), SN, USAT/CNN
Georgia Tech11–0–1Bobby RossDuS, NCF, R(FACT), SR, UPI
Miami10–2Dennis EricksonERS, NYT, R(FACT), SR
Washington10–2Don JamesR(FACT)
1991Miami12–0Dennis EricksonAP, BR, CFRA, ERS, NCF, NYT, SN, SR
Washington12–0Don JamesB(QPRS), DeS, DuS, FN, FWAA, MGR, NCF, R(FACT), SR, UPI/NFF, USAT/CNN
1992Alabama13–0Gene StallingsAP, B(QPRS), BR, CFRA, DeS, DuS, ERS, FN, FWAA, MGR, NCF, NYT, R(FACT), SN, SR, UPI/NFF, USAT/CNN
Florida State11–1Bobby BowdenSR
1993Auburn11–0Terry BowdenNCF
Florida State12–1Bobby BowdenAP, B(QPRS), BR, CCR, DeS, DuS, ERS, FN, FWAA, NCF, NYT, R(FACT), SN, SR, UPI, USAT/CNN, USAT/NFF
Nebraska11–1Tom OsborneNCF
Notre Dame11–1Lou HoltzMGR, NCF
1994Florida State10–1–1Bobby BowdenDuS
Nebraska13–0Tom OsborneAP, AS, B(QPRS), BR, FN, FWAA, NCF, R(FACT), SN, SR, UPI, USAT/CNN, USAT/NFF
Penn State12–0Joe PaternoCCR, DeS, ERS, MGR, NCF, NYT, R(FACT), SR
1995Nebraska12–0Tom OsborneAP, AS, B(QPRS), BR, CCR, DeS, DuS, ERS, FN, FWAA, MGR, NCF, NFF, NYT, R(FACT), SN, SR, UPI, USAT/CNN
1996Florida12–1Steve SpurrierAP, B(QPRS), BR, CCR, DeS, DuS, ERS, FN, FWAA, MGR, NCF, NFF, NYT, R(FACT), SN, SR, USAT/CNN
Florida State11–1Bobby BowdenAS
1997Michigan12–0Lloyd CarrAP, FN, FWAA, NCF, NFF, SN
Nebraska13–0Tom OsborneA&H, AS, B(QPRS), BR, CCR, DeS, DuS, ERS, MGR, NCF, NYT, R(FACT), SR, USAT/ESPN
1998Tennessee13–0Phillip FulmerA&H, AP, AS, B(QPRS), BCS, BR, CCR, DeS, DuS, ERS, FN, FWAA, MGR, NCF, NFF, NYT, R(FACT), SN, USAT/ESPN
1999Florida State12–0Bobby BowdenA&H, AP, B(QPRS), BCS, BR, CCR, DeS, DuS, ERS, FN, FWAA, MCFR, MGR, NCF, NFF, NYT, R(FACT), SN, SR, USAT/ESPN
2000Miami11–1Butch DavisNYT
Oklahoma13–0Bob StoopsA&H, AP, B(QPRS), BCS, BR, CCR, DeS, DuS, ERS, FN, FWAA, MCFR, MGR, NCF, NFF, R(FACT), SN, SR, USAT/ESPN
2001Miami12–0Larry CokerA&H, AP, B(QPRS), BCS, BR, CCR, CM, DeS, DuS, ERS, FN, FWAA, MCFR, MGR, NFF, NYT, R(FACT), SN, SR, USAT/ESPN, W
2002Ohio State14–0Jim TresselA&H, AP, B(QPRS), BCS, BR, CCR, CM, DeS, ERS, FN, FWAA, MCFR, NFF, NYT, R(FACT), SN, SR, USAT/ESPN, W
USC11–2Pete CarrollDuS, MGR, SR
2003LSU13–1Nick SabanA&H, BCS, BR, CM, DeS, DuS, MCFR, NFF, R(FACT), SR, USAT/ESPN, W
Oklahoma12–2Bob StoopsB(QPRS)
USC12–1Pete CarrollAP, CCR, ERS, FWAA, MGR, NYT, SN
2004USC[20]11–0[21]Pete CarrollA&H, AP, B(QPRS), BR, CCR, CM, DeS, DuS, ERS, MCFR, MGR, NFF, NYT, R(FACT), SN, SR, W
2005Texas13–0Mack BrownA&H, AP, B(QPRS), BCS, BR, CCR, CM, DeS, DuS, ERS, FWAA, MCFR, MGR, NFF, R(FACT), SN, SR, USAT, W
2006Florida13–1Urban MeyerA&H, AP, B(QPRS), BCS, BR, CCR, CM, DuS, FWAA, MCFR, MGR, NFF, R(FACT), SN, SR, USAT, W
Ohio State12–1Jim TresselR(FACT)
2007LSU12–2Les MilesAP, BCS, BR, CCR, CM, FWAA, MCFR, NFF, SR, USAT, W
Missouri12–2Gary PinkelA&H
USC11–2Pete CarrollDuS
2008Florida13–1Urban MeyerAP, BCS, BR, CCR, CM, DuS, FWAA, NFF, SR, USAT
Utah13–0Kyle WhittinghamA&H, MCFR, W
2009Alabama14–0Nick SabanA&H, AP, BCS, BR, CCR, CFRA, CM, DuS, FWAA, MCFR, NFF, SR, USAT, W
2010Auburn14–0Gene ChizikA&H, AP, BCS, BR, CFRA, CM, DuS, FWAA, MCFR, NFF, SR, USAT, W
TCU13–0Gary PattersonCCR
2011Alabama12–1Nick SabanAP, BCS, BR, CFRA, DuS, FWAA, MCFR, NFF, SR, USAT, W
LSU13–1Les MilesA&H, CCR
Oklahoma State12–1Mike GundyCM
2012Alabama13–1Nick SabanA&H, AP, BCS, BR, CCR, CFRA, DuS, FWAA, MCFR, NFF, SR, USAT, W
Notre Dame12–1Brian KellyCM
2013Florida State14–0Jimbo FisherA&H, AP, BCS, BR, CCR, CFRA, CM, DuS, FWAA, MCFR, NFF, SR, USAT, W

Total championship selections from major selectors by school[edit]

The national title count listed below is a culmination of all championship awarded since 1869, regardless of consensus or non-consensus status, as listed in the table above according to the selectors deemed to be major as listed in the official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records (minus the Harris Interactive poll, 2005–present, that is listed but does not conduct a final poll or award a championship).[8]

The totals can be said to be disputed. Individual schools may claim national championships not accounted for by the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records or may not claim national championship selections that do appear in the official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records (see National championship claims by school below). For an alternative independent view of national championship totals for each team, please see the College Football Data Warehouse recognized national champions or Poll era (1936–present) selections in the tables below.

SchoolChampionships
Princeton28
Yale27
Notre Dame22
Alabama19
Oklahoma17
USC17
Michigan16
Ohio State14
Harvard12
Nebraska11
Pittsburgh11
Miami9
Texas9
Florida State8
LSU8
Minnesota7
Penn State7
Tennessee7
Georgia Tech6
Michigan State6
Penn6
Army5
Auburn5
California5
Cornell5
Florida5
Georgia5
Illinois5
Iowa4
Washington4
Lafayette3
Mississippi3
SMU3
TCU3
Texas A&M3
Arizona State2
Arkansas2
Chicago2
Maryland2
Missouri2
Stanford2
BYU1
Centre1
Clemson1
Colgate1
Colorado1
Columbia1
Dartmouth1
Detroit1
Kentucky1
Navy1
Oklahoma State1
Purdue1
Rutgers1
Syracuse1
UCLA1
Washington & Jefferson1
Wisconsin1

National championship claims by school[edit]

The following is a table of known schools' claims on national championships at the highest level of play in college football. Several of these schools no longer compete at the highest level, which is currently NCAA Division I FBS, but nonetheless maintain claims to titles from when they did compete at the highest level.

Because there is no one governing or official body that regulates, recognizes, or awards national championships in college football, and because many independent selectors of championships exist, many of the claims by the schools listed below are shared, contradict each other, or are controversial.[5][8] In addition, because there is no one body overseeing national championships, no standardized requirements exist in order for a school to make a claim on a national championship, as any particular institution is free to make any declaration it deems to be fit. However, all known national championship claims are for seasons in which a National Championship, or share of a championship, was believed to be awarded to that particular school by at least one independent third-party selector.[22][23][24][25] The majority of these claims, but not all, are based on championships awarded from selectors listed as "major" in the official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records.[6] Not all championships awarded by third party selectors, nor those listed in the official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records, are necessarily claimed by each school.[26] Therefore, these claims represent how each individual school sees their own history on the subject of national championships.

This table below includes only national championship claims originating from each particular school and therefore represents the point-of-view of each individual institution. Each total number of championships, and the years for which they are claimed, are documented by the particular school on its official website, in its football media guide, or in other official publications or literature (see Source). If a championship is not mentioned by a school for any particular season, regardless of whether it was awarded by a selector or listed in a third-party publication such as the official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records, it is not considered to be claimed by that institution.[27]

SchoolClaimed National ChampionshipsSeasonsSource
Princeton281869, 1870, 1872, 1873, 1874, 1875, 1877, 1878, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1884, 1885, 1886, 1889, 1893, 1894, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1906, 1911, 1920, 1922, 1933, 1935, 1950[28]
Yale271872, 1874, 1876, 1877, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1897, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1909, 1927[29][30]
Alabama151925, 1926, 1930, 1934, 1941, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1992, 2009, 2011, 2012[31][32]
Michigan111901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1918, 1923, 1932, 1933, 1947, 1948, 1997[33][34]
Notre Dame111924, 1929, 1930, 1943, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1966, 1973, 1977, 1988[35]
USC11a1928, 1931, 1932, 1939, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1974, 1978, 2003, 2004[36]
Pittsburgh91915, 1916, 1918, 1929, 1931, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1976[37]
Harvard71890, 1898, 1899, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1919[38]
Minnesota71904, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1941, 1960[39]
Ohio State71942, 1954, 1957, 1961, 1968, 1970, 2002[40]
Oklahoma71950, 1955, 1956, 1974, 1975, 1985, 2000[41]
Penn71894, 1895, 1897, 1904, 1907, 1908, 1924[42]
Michigan St61951, 1952, 1955, 1957, 1965, 1966[43][44]
Tennessee61938, 1940, 1950, 1951, 1967, 1998[45][46]
Auburn51913, 1957, 1983, 1993, 2010[47]
California51920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1937[48][49]
Cornell51915, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1939[50]
Georgia5b1927, 1942, 1946, 1968, 1980[51][52]
Illinois51914, 1919, 1923, 1927, 1951[53]
Miami51983, 1987, 1989, 1991, 2001[54]
Nebraska51970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997[55]
Georgia Tech41917, 1928, 1952, 1990[56]
Texas41963, 1969, 1970, 2005[57]
Army31944, 1945, 1946[58][59]
Florida31996, 2006, 2008[60]
Florida State31993, 1999, 2013[61][62]
Lafayette31896, 1921, 1926[63]
LSU31958, 2003, 2007[64]
Mississippi31959, 1960, 1962[65]
SMU31935, 1981, 1982[66][67]
Texas A&M31919, 1927, 1939[68]
Chicago21905, 1913[69]
Penn State21982, 1986[70]
TCU21935, 1938[71]
Washington2c1960, 1991[72]
Arkansas11964[73]
Boston College11940[74]
BYU11984[75]
Clemson11981[76]
Colorado11990[77]
Dartmouth11925[78]
Iowa1d1958[79][80]
Kentucky11950[81][82]
Maryland11953[83]
Navy11926[84]
Stanford11926[85][86]
Syracuse11959[87]
UCLA11954[88][89]

aUSC's January 4, 2005 win over Oklahoma in the BCS Championship Game was vacated as mandated by the NCAA, its 2004 BCS National Championship vacated by the BCS, and its AFCA Coaches' Trophy returned. NCAA sanctions mandate that "any reference to the vacated results, including championships, shall be removed." USC still retains the 2004 Associated Press National Championship and has not abandoned its claim to a 2004 National Championship.[16][90]
b In an on-line list of the university's national championships, Georgia lists only two for football (1942 and 1980).[91] However, in Georgia's football media guide, although those years are highlighted as consensus championships, each of the five championships are described separately[51] and those seasons are highlighted as national championships in the year-by-year results.[52]
c Washington's 2012 official record book notes four National Championships awarded from selectors in 1960, 1984, 1990, and 1991, while the school has claimed the 1960 and 1991 National Championship seasons.[72][92]
d Iowa lists the awarding of the 1958 Grantland Rice National Championship in various publications, but does not appear to directly comment on a claim.

College Football Data Warehouse recognized national champions[edit]

College Football Data Warehouse (CFBDW) is an online resource and database that has collected and researched information on college football and national championship selections. It provides a comprehensive list of national championship selectors[93][94] and has itself recognized selectors that it has deemed to be the most acceptable throughout history. These include the National Championship Foundation (1869–1882), the Helms Athletic Foundation (1883–1935), the College Football Researchers Association (1919–1935), the Associated Press Poll (1936–present), and the Coaches Poll (1950–present).[7] From its research, it has compiled a list of Recognized National Championships for each season.[95] Some years include recognition of multiple teams for a particular season. Please note that the CFBDW list of Recognized Champions does not confer any additional legitimacy to the titles. In this regard, some universities claim championships not recognized by CFBDW or do not claim championships that are recognized by CFBDW. Please consult the above table of National championship claims by school or individual team articles and websites for possible additional or alternative national championship claims.

Below is a list of all of the CFBDW recognized national championships from 1869 to present.

SchoolChampionshipsSeasons
Princeton261869, 1870, 1872, 1873, 1874, 1875, 1877, 1878, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1884, 1885, 1886, 1889, 1893, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1906, 1911, 1920, 1922, 1933, 1935
Yale181874, 1876, 1877, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1891, 1892, 1894, 1900, 1907, 1909, 1927
Alabama141925, 1926, 1930, 1934, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1992, 2009, 2011, 2012
Notre Dame131919, 1924, 1929, 1930, 1943, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1964, 1966, 1973, 1977, 1988
Michigan111901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1918, 1923, 1932, 1933, 1947, 1948, 1997
USC101928, 1931, 1932, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1974, 1978, 2003, 2004
Pittsburgh91910, 1915, 1916, 1918, 1929, 1931, 1936, 1937, 1976
Harvard81875, 1890, 1898, 1899, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1919
Ohio State71942, 1954, 1957, 1961, 1968, 1970, 2002
Oklahoma71950, 1955, 1956, 1974, 1975, 1985, 2000
Minnesota61934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1941, 1960
Penn61894, 1895, 1897, 1904, 1907, 1908
Army51914, 1916, 1944, 1945, 1946
Miami51983, 1987, 1989, 1991, 2001
Nebraska51970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997
California41920, 1921, 1922, 1937
Georgia Tech41917, 1928, 1952, 1990
Illinois41914, 1919, 1923, 1927
LSU41908, 1958, 2003, 2007
Michigan St41951, 1952, 1965, 1966
Penn State41911, 1912, 1982, 1986
Tennessee41938, 1950, 1951, 1998
Texas41963, 1969, 1970, 2005
Auburn31913, 1957, 2010
Cornell31915, 1921, 1922
Florida31996, 2006, 2008
Florida State31993, 1999, 2013
Lafayette31896, 1921, 1926
Georgia21942, 1980
Mississippi21960, 1962
Texas A&M21919, 1939
TCU21935, 1938
Arkansas11964
Boston College11940
BYU11984
Chicago11905
Clemson11981
Colorado11990
Dartmouth11925
Iowa11958
Maryland11953
SMU11935
Stanford11926
Syracuse11959
UCLA11954
Washington11991

Poll era (1936–present)[edit]

The polling system first gained widespread consistency with the introduction of the AP poll in 1936, followed by the Coaches' Poll in 1950. National championships are often popularly considered to be "consensus" when both of these polls are in agreement with their national championship selections, although other selectors exist and do make alternative selections. A more modern incarnation, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), was a consortium of college football conferences that uses a combination of various computer rankings and human polls to mathematically determine a post-season matchup between the two top teams as determined by its formula. The USA Today Coaches' Poll was contractually obligated to name the BCS champion as its national champion.

AP Poll[edit]

Main article: AP Poll

The AP college football poll has a long history. The news media began running their own polls of sports writers to determine who was, by popular opinion, the best football team in the country at the end of the season. One of the earliest such polls was the AP College Football Poll, first run in 1934 (compiled and organized by Charles Woodroof, former SEC Assistant Director of Media Relations, but not recognized in the official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records) and then continuously from 1936. Due to the long-standing historical ties between individual college football conferences and high-paying bowl games like the Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl, the NCAA has never held a tournament or championship game to determine the champion of what is now the highest division, NCAA Division I, Football Bowl Subdivision (the Division I, Football Championship Subdivision and lower divisions do hold championship tournaments). As a result, the public and the media began to take the leading vote-getter in the final AP Poll as the national champion for that season.

While the AP Poll currently lists the Top 25 teams in the nation, from 1936 to 1961 the wire service only ranked 20 teams. And from 1962 to 1967 only 10 teams were recognized. From 1968 to 1988, the AP again resumed its Top 20 before expanding to 25 teams in 1989.

Until the 1968 college football season, the final AP Poll of the season was released following the end of the regular season, with the exception of the 1965 season. In 1964, Alabama was named the national champion in the final AP Poll following the completion of the regular season, but lost in the Orange Bowl to Texas, leaving Arkansas as the only undefeated, untied team after the Razorbacks defeated Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl Classic. In 1965, the AP's decision to wait to crown its champion paid off, as top-ranked Michigan State lost to UCLA in the Rose Bowl, number two Arkansas lost to LSU in the Cotton Bowl Classic, and fourth-ranked Alabama defeated third-ranked Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, vaulting the Crimson Tide to the top of the AP's final poll. Michigan State was named national champion in the final United Press International poll of coaches, which did not conduct a post-bowl poll. At the end of the 1947 season, the AP released an unofficial post-bowl poll which differed from the regular season final poll. The AP national championship had been awarded before bowl games were played.

Beginning in the 1968 season, a post bowl game poll was released and the AP championship reflected the bowl game results. The UPI did not follow suit with the coaches' poll until the 1974 season.

Coaches' Poll[edit]

Main article: Coaches' Poll

The Coaches' poll began selecting the top 20 teams on a weekly basis during the 1950–1951 college football season. It is conducted among selected members of the American Football Coaches Association. In 1990 the poll expanded to a top 25, and it has retained this format since. The Coaches' Poll took their final poll prior to the bowl games from 1950–1973, and since 1974, has taken their final poll after bowl games. The Coaches' Poll does not include teams on either NCAA or conference-sanction probation, which also differentiates it from the AP poll.[96] The poll has been released through various media outlets and with differing sponsors over its history, and thus has taken a succession of different names, including United Press (UP) from 1950 thru 1957, the United Press International (UPI) from 1958 thru 1990, USA Today/CNN from 1991 thru 1996, USA Today/ESPN from 1997 to 2004, and USA Today from 2005 to present. The National Champion from this poll has usually been the same champion from the AP Poll, although it has disagreed with the AP eleven times over its history. The Coaches' Poll is now under contractual obligation to award its national championship selection to the winner of the BCS Championship game. During the BCS era, this selection has differed from the AP Poll only once, in 2003.

National poll championships (1936–present)[edit]

The following table contains the National Championships that have been recognized by the final AP or Coaches' Poll. Originally both the AP and Coaches' poll champions were crowned after the regular season, but since 1968 and 1974, respectively, both polls crown their champions after the bowl games are completed. The BCS champion is automatically awarded the Coaches' Poll championship. Of the current 120+ Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS, formerly Division I-A) schools, only 30 have won at least a share of a national title by the AP or Coaches' poll. Of these 30 teams, only 19 teams have won multiple titles. Of the 19 teams, only 7 have won five or more national titles: Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC, Miami, Nebraska, and Ohio State. The years listed in the table below indicate a national championship selection by the AP or Coaches' Poll. The selections are noted with (AP) or (Coaches) when a national champion selection differed between the two polls for that particular season, which has occurred in eleven different seasons since the polls first came to coexist in 1950.

SchoolChampionshipsSeasons
Alabama101961, 1964, 1965 (AP), 1973 (Coaches), 1978 (AP), 1979, 1992, 2009, 2011, 2012
Notre Dame81943, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1966, 1973 (AP), 1977, 1988
Oklahoma71950, 1955, 1956, 1974 (AP), 1975, 1985, 2000
USC71962, 1967, 1972, 1974 (Coaches), 1978 (Coaches), 2003 (AP), 2004 (AP)*
Miami51983, 1987, 1989, 1991 (AP), 2001
Nebraska51970 (AP), 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997 (Coaches)
Ohio State51942, 1954 (AP), 1957 (Coaches), 1968, 2002
Minnesota41936, 1940, 1941, 1960
Texas41963, 1969, 1970 (Coaches), 2005
Florida31996, 2006, 2008
Florida State31993, 1999, 2013
LSU31958, 2003 (Coaches), 2007
Army21944, 1945
Auburn21957 (AP), 2010
Michigan21948, 1997 (AP)
Michigan State21952, 1965 (Coaches)
Penn State21982, 1986
Pittsburgh21937, 1976
Tennessee21951, 1998
BYU11984
Clemson11981
Colorado11990 (AP)
Georgia11980
Georgia Tech11990 (Coaches)
Maryland11953
Syracuse11959
TCU11938
Texas A&M11939
UCLA11954 (Coaches)
Washington11991 (Coaches)

* USC's 2004–2005 BCS National Championship was vacated by the BCS and the AFCA Coaches' Trophy returned.[16]

BCS championships[edit]

The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was a selection system designed to give the top two teams in the NCAA Division I-Football Bowl Subdivision System (formerly Division I-A) an opportunity to compete in a "national championship game". This championship was intended as a surrogate for a playoff system since the NCAA does not formally determine a champion in this category. It began during the 1998 season, but a number of controversial selections spurred changes to the format over the years. Prior to the 2006 season, eight teams competed in four BCS Bowls (the Orange, Sugar, Rose, and Fiesta). The BCS replaced the Bowl Alliance (in place from 1995–1997), which itself followed the Bowl Coalition (in place from 1992–1994). One of the main differences was that the Rose Bowl participated in the BCS; previously, the Big Ten and Pac-12 champions automatically played in the Rose Bowl regardless of their poll rankings. However after the change, those teams played in the BCS National Championship Game if they finished No. 1 or No. 2 in the BCS standings.

The BCS relied on a combination of the Coaches' and Harris polls and an average of various computer rankings to determine relative team rankings, and to narrow the field to two teams to play in the BCS National Championship Game held after the other college bowl games. The winner of this game was crowned Coaches' Poll national champion winning the AFCA National Championship Trophy and was also awarded the MacArthur Trophy by the National Football Foundation.[11][12]

BCS National Championships by school (1998–2013)[edit]

SchoolChampionshipsSeasons
Alabama32009, 2011, 2012
Florida22006, 2008
Florida State21999, 2013
LSU22003, 2007
Auburn12010
Miami12001
Oklahoma12000
Ohio State12002
Tennessee11998
Texas12005
USC0*2004*

* USC's victory in the 2005 Orange Bowl and subsequent 2004–05 BCS National Championship was vacated by the BCS.[16][97]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Additional sources[edit]