College football timeline and discourse

14 01 2010

College Football Competition Timeline

1869 – Rutgers and Princeton played a rugby-soccer-football hybrid game, considered to be the inaugural college football season.  Modern football began to develop from rugby.

1880Walter Camp is widely considered the father of modern American football. He was instrumental in changing the rules that resemble modern football regulations.

1902 – Championship college football first began when the first bowl game played was called the Tournament East-West football game, which was later was renamed the Rose Bowl.

1935 – The popularity of college football grows and an award is created for most the outstanding player called the Downtown Athletic Club trophy, later renamed the Heisman Trophy.

1936 – The AP creates its first poll and chooses its first national champion.  Controversy surrounds Minnesota’s title with Northwestern ending the season with identical records.

1940College football popularity reaches an all-time high with five bowl games in existence: the Rose, Orange, Sugar, Sun and Cotton Bowl.  Specific conferences are tied to specific bowl games.

1958 – The United Press International creates its own voting poll to choose a national champion with controversy surrounding the Associated Press polls.

1997 – The AP poll crowns Michigan national champion while the USA Today/Coaches poll crowns Nebraska.  The 18th time in history there are split national champions.

1998 – Fans demand a ‘true’ national champion.  The Bowl Championship Series is formed; mandating the #1 team and the #2 team according to blended polls to play each other.

2009 College Football Playoff Act of 2009 is introduced to the House of Energy and Commerce.

College Football Playoff Discourse

College football bowl games are big business with 68 teams participating in 2009’s bowl lineup.  The Big 10 conference stands to earn $37 million in revenue from the seven bowl games to which it is affiliated.;col1

There is contention that the bowl system would be devalued or made to be defunct by a playoff.  This is an article explaining why there are too many bowl games and that a college playoff would not hurt a system that is already devalued.

A Quinnipiac University survey shows 63 percent favor getting rid of the current BCS system in favor of a playoff, while 26 percent want to keep the BCS.  The poll also shows 48 percent believe it is a bad idea if federal lawmakers force college football to start a playoff system.

This article explains that legislation is pending to prohibit any bowl game from calling itself a “national championship” unless the game is “the final game of a single elimination post-season playoff system.”

This is a FAQ written by the Playoff Political Action Committee on the legislation proposed by Congressman Joe Barton’s College Football Playoff Act.  The page also includes a link to the bill in its entirety.


With its inception nearly 150 years ago, college football has gradually become one of America’s favorite pastimes.  As the sport grew, colleges around the nation created their own football teams prompting the Associated Press to devise a poll to settle national disputes and determine a national champion.  The very first national champion crowned by the AP in 1936 came with much controversy.

Regional bowl tie-ins as well as human polls repeatedly accused of bias have prevented the top teams in the nation from deciding a ‘true’ champion.  With a profitable and tradition rich bowl system in place, the Bowl Championship Series was created in lieu of a playoff to match the top two teams in a single game and is still arbitrarily decided by voting.

In 2009, Representative Joe Barton introduces legislation to ban any post-season game calling itself a ‘national championship’ unless it is part of a fair and equitable playoff system.