NCAA Division I Football Championship

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This article is about the NCAA Division I FCS (formerly I-AA) championship. For the NCAA Division I FBS (formerly I-A) championship, see College football national championships in NCAA Division I FBS.

The NCAA Division I Football Championship[1] is an American college football tournament played each year to determine the champion of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Prior to 2006, the game was known as the NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship. The FCS has historically been the highest division in college football to hold a playoff tournament to determine its champion; its 24-team tournament is still far larger than the four-team playoff system to be used by the Bowl Subdivision beginning in the 2014 season.

The reigning national champions are the North Dakota State Bison, which also won the championship in 2011 and 2012. They are the first team to win three consecutive titles since Appalachian State accomplished this feat in 2005–2007.


Appalachian State's National Championship trophies showing the differences between 2005 (I-AA), 2006 (FCS), and 2007 (FCS).

When Division I-AA was formed for football in 1978, the playoffs included just four teams, doubling to eight teams in its fourth season of 1981. In 1982 the I-AA playoffs were expanded to 12 teams, with each of the top four seeds receiving a first-round bye and a home game in the quarterfinals. In its ninth season of 1986, the I-AA playoffs were expanded again to a 16-team format, requiring four post-season victories to win the title. Eight conference champions received automatic bids, with the remaining eight bids available on an at-large basis. The field is traditionally set the Sunday before Thanksgiving and play begins that weekend. The top four teams are seeded; however, the matchups are not strictly set up by these seedings as geographic considerations are also taken into account to minimize travel. In April 2008 the NCAA announced that the playoff field would again expand to include 20 teams beginning in 2010. At the same time, it announced that the number of conferences receiving automatic bids would increase to 10. The structure then adopted included eight teams playing in four first round games. The four first round winners advance to the second Round of Sixteen where they play the top four seeds.

The playoffs expanded to 24 teams beginning with the 2013 season. The number of conferences whose champions receive automatic bids increased to 11 with the addition of a bid for the Pioneer Football League and the number of first-round games increased from four to eight.

The tournament has historically been played in November and December; with the 2010 expansion to a 20-team field, the championship game moved from December to January. From 1997 through 2009, the title game had been played in Chattanooga, Tennessee at Finley Stadium, the home football venue of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and at Marshall University Stadium (now Joan C. Edwards Stadium) on the Marshall University campus in the 5 years prior to that. The title game is now played in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas at Toyota Stadium (known as Pizza Hut Park until the day after the championship game of the 2011 season, and then as FC Dallas Stadium until September 2013), a multi-purpose stadium primarily used by FC Dallas of Major League Soccer. The original contract with Frisco began in the 2010 season and ran through the 2012 season;[2] it has since been extended through the 2015 season.[3]

Two Football Championship Subdivision conferences usually do not participate in the tournament, and a third did not participate until the 2013 season. The Ivy League, I-AA since 1982, plays a strict ten-game regular season and does not participate in any post-season football, citing academic concerns.[4][5] Three Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) teams have regular seasons that extend into the start of the tournament (Alabama State in the Turkey Day Classic and Grambling and Southern in the Bayou Classic), which in turn prevents the championship of that conference from being decided until December; Alabama State announced it would end the Turkey Day Classic after the 2013 contest to allow itself to participate in the tournament if it qualified.[6] The SWAC has not sent a team since Jackson State in 1997. The Pioneer Football League (PFL) members did not have an automatic bid into the tournament until 2013 and none of its teams ever received an at-large bid into the tournament before then.[7]

FCS Conferences[edit]

+By choice, the Ivy League abstains from the championship tournament.


YearChampion[8]Runner-upScoreVenueLocationAttendanceWinning Head Coach
1978Florida A&MMassachusetts42–28Memorial StadiumWichita Falls, Texas13,604Hubbard, RudyRudy Hubbard
1979Eastern KentuckyLehigh30–7Orlando StadiumOrlando, Florida5,500Kidd, RoyRoy Kidd
1980Boise StateEastern Kentucky31–29Hughes StadiumSacramento, California8,157Criner, JimJim Criner
1981Idaho StateEastern Kentucky34–23Memorial StadiumWichita Falls, Texas11,003Kragthorpe, DaveDave Kragthorpe
1982Eastern Kentucky (2)Delaware17–14Memorial StadiumWichita Falls, Texas11,257Roy Kidd
1983Southern IllinoisWestern Carolina43–7Johnson Hagood StadiumCharleston, South Carolina15,950Dempsey, ReyRey Dempsey
1984Montana StateLouisiana Tech19–6Johnson Hagood StadiumCharleston, South Carolina9,125Dave Arnold
1985Georgia SouthernFurman44–42Tacoma DomeTacoma, Washington5,306Russell, ErkErk Russell
1986Georgia Southern (2)Arkansas State48–21Tacoma DomeTacoma, Washington4,419Erk Russell
1987Northeast LouisianaMarshall43–42Mini DomePocatello, Idaho11,513Collins, PatPat Collins
1988FurmanGeorgia Southern17–12Holt ArenaPocatello, Idaho11,500Jimmy Satterfield
1989Georgia Southern (3)Stephen F. Austin37–34Paulson StadiumStatesboro, Georgia25,725Erk Russell
1990Georgia Southern (4)Nevada36–13Paulson StadiumStatesboro, Georgia23,204Tim Stowers
1991Youngstown StateMarshall25–17Paulson StadiumStatesboro, Georgia12,667Tressel, JimJim Tressel
1992MarshallYoungstown State31–28Marshall University StadiumHuntington, West Virginia31,304Donnan, JimJim Donnan
1993Youngstown State (2)Marshall17–5Marshall University StadiumHuntington, West Virginia29,218Jim Tressel
1994Youngstown State (3)Boise State28–14Marshall University StadiumHuntington, West Virginia27,674Jim Tressel
1995MontanaMarshall22–20Marshall University StadiumHuntington, West Virginia32,106Read, DonDon Read
1996Marshall (2)Montana49–29Marshall University StadiumHuntington, West Virginia30,052Pruett, BobBob Pruett
1997Youngstown State (4)McNeese State10–9Finley StadiumChattanooga, Tennessee14,771Jim Tressel
1998MassachusettsGeorgia Southern55–43Finley StadiumChattanooga, Tennessee17,501Whipple, MarkMark Whipple
1999Georgia Southern (5)Youngstown State59–24Finley StadiumChattanooga, Tennessee20,052Johnson, PaulPaul Johnson
2000Georgia Southern (6)Montana27–25Finley StadiumChattanooga, Tennessee17,156Paul Johnson
2001Montana (2)Furman13–6Finley StadiumChattanooga, Tennessee12,698Glenn, JoeJoe Glenn
2002Western KentuckyMcNeese State34–14Finley StadiumChattanooga, Tennessee12,360Harbaugh, JackJack Harbaugh
2003DelawareColgate40–0Finley StadiumChattanooga, Tennessee14,281Keeler, K. C.K. C. Keeler
2004James MadisonMontana31–21Finley StadiumChattanooga, Tennessee16,771Mickey Matthews
2005Appalachian StateNorthern Iowa21–16Finley StadiumChattanooga, Tennessee20,236Moore, JerryJerry Moore
2006Appalachian State (2)Massachusetts28–17Finley StadiumChattanooga, Tennessee22,808Jerry Moore
2007Appalachian State (3)Delaware49–21Finley StadiumChattanooga, Tennessee23,010Jerry Moore
2008RichmondMontana24–7Finley StadiumChattanooga, Tennessee17,823London, MikeMike London
2009VillanovaMontana23–21Finley StadiumChattanooga, Tennessee14,328Talley, AndyAndy Talley
2010Eastern WashingtonDelaware20–19Pizza Hut ParkFrisco, Texas13,027Baldwin, BeauBeau Baldwin
2011North Dakota StateSam Houston State17–6Pizza Hut ParkFrisco, Texas20,586Bohl, CraigCraig Bohl
2012North Dakota State (2)Sam Houston State39–13FC Dallas StadiumFrisco, Texas21,411Craig Bohl
2013North Dakota State (3)Towson35–7Toyota StadiumFrisco, Texas19,802Craig Bohl
2014Toyota StadiumFrisco, Texas

† Known as University of Louisiana at Monroe since 1999.

‡ Now Toyota Stadium

Most national championships[edit]

TeamTitlesTitle YearsFinalsRunner-up
Georgia Southern^61985, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1999, 200081988, 1998
Youngstown State41991, 1993, 1994, 199761992, 1999
Appalachian State^32005, 2006, 20073
North Dakota State32011, 2012, 20133
Montana21995, 200171996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2009
Marshall^21992, 199661987, 1991, 1993, 1995
Eastern Kentucky21979, 198241980, 1981
Delaware1200341982, 2007, 2010
Furman1198831985, 2001
Massachusetts^1199831978, 2006
Boise State^1198021994
Eastern Washington120101
Florida A&M119781
Idaho State119811
James Madison120041
Northeast Louisiana^119871
Montana State119841
Southern Illinois119831
Western Kentucky^120021
McNeese State021997, 2002
Sam Houston State022011, 2012
Arkansas State^011986
Louisiana Tech^011984
Northern Iowa012005
Stephen F. Austin011989
Western Carolina011983

^ Now a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ NCAA Division I Football Championship - Official Web Site
  2. ^ Caplan, Jeff (2010-02-26). "20 teams to compete for FCS crown". Retrieved 2010-02-26. 
  3. ^ "NCAA inks three-year extension to keep FCS title game in Frisco, Texas" (Press release). NCAA. December 19, 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2012. 
  4. ^ Pablo Torre (2007-11-29). "No playoffs for you!". SI. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  5. ^ David Burrick (2003-09-18). "Ivy League not likely to see I-AA playoffs". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  6. ^ Craig T. Greenlee (2000-01-06). "Not Exactly for THE SPORT OF IT". Black Issues in Higher Education. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ NCAA (2008). "FCS History". 

External links[edit]