NCAA Division I Football Championship

The NCAA Division I Football Championship is a annual post-season college football game, played since 2006, used to determine a national champion of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). From 1978 to 2005, the game was known as the NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship.

NCAA Division I
Football Championship
NCAA Division I FCS logo.jpg
StadiumToyota Stadium (2010–present)
LocationFrisco, Texas (2010–present)
Previous stadiumsFinley Stadium (1997–2009)
Marshall University Stadium (1992–1996)
various (1978–1991)
Previous locationsChattanooga, Tennessee (1997–2009)
Huntington, West Virginia (1992–1996)
various (1978–1991)
Operated2006–present
Preceded byNCAA Division I-AA Football Championship (1978–2005)
2017 season matchup
North Dakota State vs. James Madison
(North Dakota State 17–13)
2018 season matchup
North Dakota State vs. Eastern Washington
(North Dakota State 38–24)

The game serves as the final match of an annual postseason bracket tournament between top teams in FCS. Since 2013, 24 teams participate in the tournament, with some teams receiving automatic bids upon winning their conference championship, and other teams determined by a selection committee. The reigning national champions are the North Dakota State Bison, who have won seven championship games in the past eight seasons (2011–2015, 2017–2018).

The FCS is the highest division in college football to hold a playoff tournament sanctioned by the NCAA to determine its champion. The four-team College Football Playoff used by the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) is not sanctioned by the NCAA.

Contents

HistoryEdit

Playoff formatEdit

In the inaugural season of Division I-AA, the 1978 postseason included just four teams; three regional champions (East, West, and South) plus an at-large selection.[1] The field doubled to eight teams in 1981, with champions of five conferences—Big Sky, Mid-Eastern, Ohio Valley, Southwestern, and Yankee—receiving automatic bids.[2] The top four teams were seeded, and then matched against the four remaining teams based on geographical proximity.[3] The tournament was expanded to 12 teams in 1982, with each of the top four seeds receiving a first-round bye and a home game in the quarterfinals.[4] Champions of the Southern and Southland conferences also received automatic bids.[5]

The number of automatic bids has varied over time, due to changes in the number and size of conferences, with an automatic bid typically granted only to champions of conferences with at least six teams.[6] Initially, the tournament was played in December; since the expansion to twelve teams in 1982, earlier rounds have been held in late November.

The playoffs expanded to a 16-team format in 1986, requiring four postseason victories to win the title. Initially, only the top four teams were seeded,[7] with other teams geographically placed in the bracket. From 1995 through 2000, all 16 teams were seeded, independent of geography. In 2001, the number of seeded teams was reduced to four, with the seeded teams assured of home games in early tournament rounds, and other teams once again placed in the bracket to minimize travel.[8] Home team designation in games between unseeded teams is determined based on several factors, including attendance history and revenue potential.[9]

In April 2008, the NCAA announced that the playoff field would expand to 20 teams in 2010, with the Big South and Northeast Conference earning automatic bids for the first time.[10] That bracket structure included seeding of the top five teams. Twelve teams received first-round byes; the remaining eight teams played first-round games, with the four winners advancing to face the top four seeds. The playoffs expanded to 24 teams beginning in 2013, with the champion of the Pioneer Football League receiving an automatic bid for the first time.[11] The number of seeded teams was increased to eight, with the 16 unseeded teams playing in first-round games.

The field is traditionally set the Sunday before Thanksgiving and play begins that weekend.

 
Appalachian State's National Championship trophies for 2005 (I-AA), 2006 (FCS), and 2007 (FCS).
Playoff Format
Season(s) Bracket
size
Seeded
teams
1st round
byes
1978–1980 4
1981 8 4
1982–1985 12 4 4
1986–1994 16 4
1995–2000 16
2001–2009 4
2010–2012 20 5 12
2013–present 24 8 8

Team selectionEdit

At-large selections and seeding within the bracket are determined by the FCS Playoff Selection Committee, which consists of one athletic director from each conference with an automatic bid.[12] As of the 2018 season, there are 10 conferences with automatic bids and the selection committee makes 14 at-large selections.[12] For the 2018 season, the committee was chaired by Dr. Brad Teague of the University of Central Arkansas.[13]

Championship gameEdit

 
The 2015 championship game between North Dakota State and Jacksonville State at Toyota Stadium

The tournament culminates with the national championship game, played between the two remaining teams from the playoff bracket. Originally played in December, with the 2010 expansion to a 20-team field, the championship game moved to January, with two or three weeks between the semifinals and final.

From 1997 through 2009, the title game was played at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the home field of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. In the five prior years (1992–1996) it was held at Marshall University Stadium (now Joan C. Edwards Stadium) in Huntington, West Virginia.

Since 2010, the title game has been played in Frisco, Texas, a suburb north of Dallas, at Toyota Stadium , a multi-purpose stadium primarily used by FC Dallas of Major League Soccer. The stadium was 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. The original contract with Frisco began in the 2010 season and ran through the 2012 season.[14] The contract has since been extended three times; first through the 2015 season,[15] then through the 2019 season,[16] and most recently through the 2024 season with an option for the 2025 season.[17]

Non-participantsEdit

Three FCS conferences usually do not participate in the tournament. The Ivy League, which has been at the FCS level since 1982 and prohibits its members from awarding athletic scholarships in any sport, plays a strict ten-game regular season and does not participate in any postseason football, citing academic concerns.[18][19] The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), two conferences consisting of historically black colleges and universities, opt to play the Celebration Bowl (which was established in 2015) instead of the FCS tournament. MEAC gave up its automatic spot in the tournament prior to the 2015 season, while SWAC (whose regular season extends through the Turkey Day Classic and Bayou Classic at the end of November and holds its own championship game in December) has not sent a team to the tournament since 1997.[20] Teams from the MEAC and SWAC may accept at-large bids, so long as they aren't committed to other postseason games that would conflict with the tournament. The most recent team from the MEAC to accept a bid were the 2016 North Carolina A&T Aggies, while the most recent SWAC team to participate in the tournament were the Jackson State Tigers in 1997.

Historically, conferences in FCS that did not offer athletic scholarships were not granted automatic bids into the tournament and, although in theory were eligible for at-large bids, never received any. The last non-scholarship conference in the subdivision, the Pioneer Football League, now receives a tournament bid, which was initiated with the 2013 postseason.

FCS conferencesEdit

Conference Nickname Founded Football Members Sports Headquarters
Big Sky Conference Big Sky 1963 12 16 Ogden, Utah
Big South Conference Big South 1983 10 19 Charlotte, North Carolina
Colonial Athletic Association CAA 1979 10 21 Richmond, Virginia
Ivy League % 1954 8 33 Princeton, New Jersey
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference   MEAC 1970 13 16 Norfolk, Virginia
Missouri Valley Football Conference MVFC 1982 10 1 St. Louis, Missouri
Northeast Conference NEC 1981 10 22 Somerset, New Jersey
Ohio Valley Conference OVC 1948 12 18 Brentwood, Tennessee
Patriot League 1986 10 24 Center Valley, Pennsylvania
Pioneer Football League PFL 1991 11 1 St. Louis, Missouri
Southern Conference SoCon 1921 10 20 Spartanburg, South Carolina
Southland Conference 1963 11 17 Frisco, Texas
Southwestern Athletic Conference   SWAC 1920 10 18 Birmingham, Alabama

% The Ivy League abstains from the championship tournament and all postseason play.

  The MEAC champion, since 2015, forgoes its automatic bid to allow its champion to participate in the Celebration Bowl. Non-champions are eligible for at-large bids (an example being the 2016 North Carolina A&T Aggies football team).

  The SWAC abstains from the championship tournament to allow for a longer regular season, a conference championship game, and participation in the Celebration Bowl against the MEAC champion since 2015.

ChampionsEdit

The following table lists the champion for each season, starting with the inaugural season of Division I-AA play, 1978.[21] The runner-up, and score of the championship game, are also noted, along with the stadium, host city, attendance at the championship game, and head coach of the championship team.

Season Champion Runner-up Score
(notes)
Venue Location Attendance Winning
head coach
1978 Florida A&M UMass 35–28 Memorial Stadium Wichita Falls, TX 13,604 Rudy Hubbard
1979 Eastern Kentucky Lehigh 30–7 Orlando Stadium Orlando, FL 5,500 Roy Kidd
1980 Boise State Eastern Kentucky 31–29 Hughes Stadium Sacramento, CA 8,157 Jim Criner
1981 Idaho State Eastern Kentucky 34–23 Memorial Stadium Wichita Falls, TX 11,003 Dave Kragthorpe
1982 Eastern Kentucky (2) Delaware 17–14 Memorial Stadium Wichita Falls, TX 11,257 Roy Kidd (2)
1983 Southern Illinois Western Carolina 43–7 Johnson Hagood Stadium Charleston, SC 15,950 Rey Dempsey
1984 Montana State Louisiana Tech 19–6 Johnson Hagood Stadium Charleston, SC 9,125 Dave Arnold
1985 Georgia Southern Furman 44–42 Tacoma Dome Tacoma, WA 5,306 Erk Russell
1986 Georgia Southern (2) Arkansas State 48–21 Tacoma Dome Tacoma, WA 4,419 Erk Russell (2)
1987 Northeast Louisiana Marshall 43–42 Minidome Pocatello, ID 11,513 Pat Collins
1988 Furman Georgia Southern 17–12 Holt Arena Pocatello, ID 11,500 Jimmy Satterfield
1989 Georgia Southern (3) Stephen F. Austin 37–34 Paulson Stadium Statesboro, GA 25,725 Erk Russell (3)
1990 Georgia Southern (4) Nevada 36–13 Paulson Stadium Statesboro, GA 23,204 Tim Stowers
1991 Youngstown State Marshall 25–17 Paulson Stadium Statesboro, GA 12,667 Jim Tressel
1992 Marshall Youngstown State 31–28 Marshall University Stadium Huntington, WV 31,304 Jim Donnan
1993 Youngstown State (2) Marshall 17–5 Marshall University Stadium Huntington, WV 29,218 Jim Tressel (2)
1994 Youngstown State (3) Boise State 28–14 Marshall University Stadium Huntington, WV 27,674 Jim Tressel (3)
1995 Montana Marshall 22–20 Marshall University Stadium Huntington, WV 32,106 Don Read
1996 Marshall (2) Montana 49–29 Marshall University Stadium Huntington, WV 30,052 Bob Pruett
1997 Youngstown State (4) McNeese State 10–9 Finley Stadium Chattanooga, TN 14,771 Jim Tressel (4)
1998 UMass Georgia Southern 55–43 Finley Stadium Chattanooga, TN 17,501 Mark Whipple
1999 Georgia Southern (5) Youngstown State 59–24 Finley Stadium Chattanooga, TN 20,052 Paul Johnson
2000 Georgia Southern (6) Montana 27–25 Finley Stadium Chattanooga, TN 17,156 Paul Johnson (2)
2001 Montana (2) Furman 13–6 Finley Stadium Chattanooga, TN 12,698 Joe Glenn
2002 Western Kentucky McNeese State 34–14 Finley Stadium Chattanooga, TN 12,360 Jack Harbaugh
2003 Delaware Colgate 40–0 Finley Stadium Chattanooga, TN 14,281 K. C. Keeler
2004 James Madison Montana 31–21 Finley Stadium Chattanooga, TN 16,771 Mickey Matthews
2005 Appalachian State Northern Iowa 21–16 Finley Stadium Chattanooga, TN 20,236 Jerry Moore
2006 Appalachian State (2) UMass 28–17 Finley Stadium Chattanooga, TN 22,808 Jerry Moore (2)
2007 Appalachian State (3) Delaware 49–21 Finley Stadium Chattanooga, TN 23,010 Jerry Moore (3)
2008 Richmond Montana 24–7 Finley Stadium Chattanooga, TN 17,823 Mike London
2009 Villanova Montana 23–21 Finley Stadium Chattanooga, TN 14,328 Andy Talley
2010 Eastern Washington Delaware 20–19 Pizza Hut Park Frisco, TX 13,027 Beau Baldwin
2011 North Dakota State Sam Houston State 17–6 Pizza Hut Park‡ Frisco, TX 20,586 Craig Bohl
2012 North Dakota State (2) Sam Houston State 39–13 FC Dallas Stadium Frisco, TX 21,411 Craig Bohl (2)
2013 North Dakota State (3) Towson 35–7 Toyota Stadium Frisco, TX 19,802 Craig Bohl (3)
2014 North Dakota State (4) Illinois State 29–27 Toyota Stadium Frisco, TX 20,918 Chris Klieman
2015 North Dakota State (5) Jacksonville State 37–10 Toyota Stadium Frisco, TX 21,836 Chris Klieman (2)
2016 James Madison (2) Youngstown State 28–14 Toyota Stadium Frisco, TX 14,423* Mike Houston
2017 North Dakota State (6) James Madison 17–13 Toyota Stadium Frisco, TX 19,090* Chris Klieman (3)
2018 North Dakota State (7) Eastern Washington 38–24 Toyota Stadium Frisco, TX 17,802 Chris Klieman (4)

For the 2019 season, the championship game will be held on January 11, 2020, at Toyota Stadium in Frisco.[22]

Known as University of Louisiana at Monroe since 1999.
Now Toyota Stadium
* Toyota Stadium capacity reduced due to construction

MVPsEdit

 
Bo Levi Mitchell was MVP of the championship game for the 2010 season.

Since 2009, a Most Outstanding Player has been named for each championship game.[23]

Season Player Team Position
2009 Matt Szczur Villanova WR
2010 Bo Levi Mitchell Eastern Washington QB
2011 Travis Beck North Dakota State LB
2012 Brock Jensen North Dakota State QB
2013 Brock Jensen North Dakota State QB
2014 Carson Wentz North Dakota State QB
2015 Carson Wentz North Dakota State QB
2016 Bryan Schor James Madison QB
2017 Easton Stick North Dakota State QB
2018 Darrius Shepherd North Dakota State WR

Note: starting with the 2010 season, the championship game is played in January of the next calendar year.

Most appearancesEdit

The following table summarizes appearances in the championship game, by team, since the 1978 season, the first year of Division I-AA (the predecessor of FCS). Updated through completion of the 2018 season (41 championship games, 82 total appearances).

Team Record Appearances by season
Games W L Win pct. Won Lost
Georgia Southern^
8
6 2 .750 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1999, 2000 1988, 1998
North Dakota State
7
7 0 1.000 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018
Youngstown State
7
4 3 .571 1991, 1993, 1994, 1997 1992, 1999, 2016
Montana
7
2 5 .286 1995, 2001 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2009
Marshall^
6
2 4 .333 1992, 1996 1987, 1991, 1993, 1995
Eastern Kentucky
4
2 2 .500 1979, 1982 1980, 1981
Delaware
4
1 3 .250 2003 1982, 2007, 2010
Appalachian State^
3
3 0 1.000 2005, 2006, 2007
James Madison
3
2 1 .667 2004, 2016 2017
Furman
3
1 2 .333 1988 1985, 2001
UMass^
3
1 2 .333 1998 1978, 2006
Boise State^
2
1 1 .500 1980 1994
Eastern Washington
2
1 1 .500 2010 2018
McNeese State
2
0 2 .000 1997, 2002
Sam Houston State
2
0 2 .000 2011, 2012
Florida A&M
1
1 0 1.000 1978
Idaho State
1
1 0 1.000 1981
Northeast Louisiana^
1
1 0 1.000 1987
Montana State
1
1 0 1.000 1984
Richmond
1
1 0 1.000 2008
Southern Illinois
1
1 0 1.000 1983
Villanova
1
1 0 1.000 2009
Western Kentucky^
1
1 0 1.000 2002
Arkansas State^
1
0 1 .000 1986
Colgate
1
0 1 .000 2003
Illinois State
1
0 1 .000 2014
Jacksonville State
1
0 1 .000 2015
Lehigh
1
0 1 .000 1979
Louisiana Tech^
1
0 1 .000 1984
Nevada^
1
0 1 .000 1990
Northern Iowa
1
0 1 .000 2005
Stephen F. Austin
1
0 1 .000 1989
Towson
1
0 1 .000 2013
Western Carolina
1
0 1 .000 1983

^ Team is now a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

Map

The below map shows the locations of teams that have won the championship; the color of the dot indicates the number of titles.

 
 
Georgia Southern
 
North
Dakota
State
 
Youngstown State
 
Appalachian State
 
Montana
 
Marshall
 
EKU
 
JMU
 

Delaware
 
Furman
 
UMass
 
Boise
State
 
Eastern Washington
 
Florida A&M
 
Idaho
State
 
Northeast
Louisiana
 
Montana State
 
Richmond
 
Southern Illinois
 
Villanova
 
WKU
Schools with FCS championships
  – 7 championships,   – 6 championships,   – 4 championships
  – 3 championships,   – 2 championships,   – 1 championship
Italics indicate schools that have since moved to FBS

Game recordsEdit

  Record Team Opponent Year
Most points scored (one team) 59 Georgia Southern Youngstown State 1999
Most points scored (losing team) 43 Georgia Southern UMass 1998
Most points scored (both teams) 98 UMass (55) Georgia Southern (43) 1998
Fewest points allowed 0 Delaware Colgate 2003
Largest margin of victory 40 Delaware (40) Colgate (0) 2003
Attendance 32,106 Montana vs. Marshall 1995

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Television Debut May Ignite FAMU". The Palm Beach Post. AP. November 18, 1978. p. 49. Retrieved January 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  2. ^ "Recommends expansion for I-AA playoffs". The Des Moines Register. AP. April 10, 1982. p. 8. Retrieved January 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  3. ^ Sutton, Stan (November 29, 1981). "Delaware will be Eastern's playoff foe". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. p. C9. Retrieved February 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Blue Hens Get Berth; Earn Opening Bye". The Daily Times. Salisbury, Maryland. AP. November 22, 1982. p. 10. Retrieved February 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  5. ^ Sutton, Stan (September 9, 1982). "Will I-AA numbers hamper Eastern's playoff bid?". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. p. 11. Retrieved January 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "SWAC loses automatic bid". The Times. Shreveport, Louisiana. October 28, 1983. p. 6. Retrieved January 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "I-AA playoffs". Daily Press. Newport News, Virginia. November 24, 1986. p. C5. Retrieved February 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  8. ^ Kasper, Jon (November 12, 2001). "NCAA changes format for playoff pairings". Missoulian. Missoula, Montana. p. D1. Retrieved February 2, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  9. ^ Kasper, Jon (November 12, 2001). "NCAA changes format for playoff pairings (cont'd)". Missoulian. Missoula, Montana. p. D6. Retrieved February 2, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  10. ^ Graham, Tony (April 26, 2008). "NEC granted access to playoffs". Asbury Park Press. Asbury Park, New Jersey. p. 28. Retrieved January 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  11. ^ Moorman, Chris (August 4, 2013). "Flyers set sights on playoff prize". Dayton Daily News. Dayton, Ohio. p. 37. Retrieved January 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  12. ^ a b Barnett, Zach (November 15, 2018). "With one week to go, here's your FCS playoff primer". footballscoop.com. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  13. ^ "Dr. Brad Teague - Staff Directory". ucasports.com. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  14. ^ Caplan, Jeff (2010-02-26). "20 teams to compete for FCS crown". ESPNDallas.com. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
  15. ^ "NCAA inks three-year extension to keep FCS title game in Frisco, Texas" (Press release). NCAA. December 19, 2012. Archived from the original on 2013-02-20. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  16. ^ "NCAA keeping FCS title game in Frisco through at least 2020". USA Today. Associated Press. January 8, 2016. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  17. ^ "FCS Championship Will Stay in Frisco Through 2025 With Option for 2026" (Press release). Southland Conference. January 4, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  18. ^ Torre, Pablo (2007-11-29). "No playoffs for you!". SI. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
  19. ^ David Burrick (2003-09-18). "Ivy League not likely to see I-AA playoffs". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved 2009-06-27.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ Craig T. Greenlee (2000-01-06). "Not Exactly for THE SPORT OF IT". Black Issues in Higher Education. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
  21. ^ "FCS Football Championship History". NCAA.com. January 2019. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  22. ^ "Future Dates & Sites". ncaa.com. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  23. ^ "Outstanding players of FCS championship game". ESPN. AP. January 5, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2019.

External linksEdit