Selection Criteria

The basic criteria used in the selection of at-large participants are:

  • Win-loss record.
  • Strength of schedule.
  • Eligibility and availability of student-athletes for the NCAA championship.

The committee will also consider comparative data of individual teams, including but not limited to:

  • Overall record.
  • Record against Division I opponents.
  • Record against opponents from other automatic qualifying conferences.
  • Record against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.
  • Head-to-head record.
  • Common opponents’ record.
  • FCS coaches poll
  • NCAA Simple Rating System data.
  • Input from Regional Advisory Committees. 

The win-loss record of a team is scrutinized to determine a team’s strength of schedule; however, fewer than six Division I wins may place a team in jeopardy of not being selected.

The committee may give more consideration to teams that have played all Division I opponents.

Selection and Bracketing Process/Order

  1. Determine the 10 automatic qualifying teams.
  2. Select the 14 best at-large teams.
  3. Seed the top eight teams.
  4. Place the 24 teams into the championship bracket.
  5. Determine the host sites for the eight first-round contests and the eight second-round contests.
  6. At no point in the process shall a committee member vote for a team the individual represents as an athletics administrator or conference commissioner.
  7. A committee member shall not be present during discussions regarding the selection, seeding or bracketing of a team the individual represents as an athletics administrator or conference commissioner.
  8. All votes will be by secret ballot.
  9. All selection, seeding and bracketing decisions will require a vote of 70 percent among the committee members present, unless otherwise specified in the official selection principles and procedures.

NCAA Simple Rating System

The NCAA Simple Rating System has been used as an evaluation tool to rank Football Championship Subdivision football teams. Over the years, the system has been improved with several adjustments. It considers the following factors:

  • Home/away wins and losses.
  • Out-of-division wins and losses (Football Bowl Subdivision, Division II).
  • Capacitated margin of victory (capped at 21 points).
  • Strength of schedule.

Automatic Qualifiers

A total of 10 conferences will place an automatic qualifier in the NCAA tournament field. These qualifiers are the conference champions as determined by each automatic qualifying conference.

The 10 AQ conferences for the 2019 NCAA Division I Football Championship are:

  • Big Sky Conference
  • Big South Conference
  • Colonial Athletic Association
  • Missouri Valley Football Conference
  • Northeast Conference
  • Ohio Valley Conference
  • Patriot League
  • Pioneer Football League
  • Southern Conference
  • Southland Conference


With the tournament field of 24, there are 14 at-large spots beyond the automatic qualifiers. The committee selects the 14 best teams to fill the at-large berths. There is no limit on the number of at-large teams the committee may select from one conference.


The committee will seed only the top eight teams in the tournament.

2019 Division I Football Championship Timeline

Selection Sunday
12:30 p.m. Eastern time Nov. 24 on ESPNU

First Round (8 games)
Saturday, Nov. 30 — campus sites

Second Round (8 games)
Saturday, Dec. 7 — campus sites

Quarterfinal Round (4 games)
Friday, Dec. 13, and Saturday, Dec. 14 — campus sites

Semifinal Round (2 games)
Saturday, Dec. 21 — campus sites

2020 FCS Championship Game (1 game)
Saturday, Jan. 11 — noon Eastern time, Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas on ABC