The NCAA conducts 89 national championships in 23 sports. Competition is conducted in Divisions I, II and III, with 44 championships administered for women and 42 for men. Three are coed.
The NCAA hosts three football championships: the Division I Football Championship for teams in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, the Division II Football Championship and the Division III Football Championship. The FCS has a 20-team bracket, while the Division II has 24-team bracket and Division III has a 32-team bracket.
The FCS bracket history dates back to 1978-80 when there were only four teams in the field. The bracket expanded to eight teams in 1981; 12 teams (1982-85); 16 teams (1986-2009); and 20 teams 2010-present).
The Division II bracket history dates back to 1973-87 when there were eight teams in the bracket. The field expanded to 16 teams (1988-2003) and 24 teams (2004-present).
The Division III bracket history dates back to 1974 when there were four teams in the field. It expanded to eight teams (1975-84), 16 teams (1985-98), 28 teams (1999-2004) and 32 teams (2005-present).
The Division I Football Bowl Subdivision national championship is determined by the Bowl Championship Series. The BCS system is administered by the 11 FBS conferences and Notre Dame. The first year of the BCS system was 1998.
Football Championship Subdivision – The Division I Football Championship features a 20-team playoff. The top teams in 10 conferences automatically qualify while the other 10 teams are selected at-large by the Division I Football Championship Committee. From 1997 through 2010, the championship game was played in Chattanooga, Tenn., before moving to Frisco, Texas, in 2011. Before that, the championship game has been played in the following sites since 1978: Wichita Falls, Texas (1978, 1981-82); Orlando, Fla. (1979); Sacramento, Calif. (1980); Charleston, S.C. (1983-84); Tacoma, Wash. (1985-86); Pocatello, Idaho (1987-88); Statesboro, Ga. (1989-91); and Huntington, W.Va. (1992-96).
Division II – The Division II Football Championship consists of a 24-team playoff field. All teams are selected by the Division II Football Committee. Since 1986, the game has been played annually at Braly Municipal Stadium near the campus of the University of North Alabama in Florence, Ala.
Division III – The Division III Football Championship features 23 conference automatic qualifiers and nine additional teams selected by the Division III Football Committee. The championship game has been played at Salem Stadium in Salem, Va., since 1993.
Football Bowl Subdivision – The Division I Football Bowl Subdivision decides its champion through the Bowl Championship Series. The BCS is managed by the 11 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision conferences and the University of Notre Dame. The conferences are Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, Sun Belt, Pac-12, Southeastern and Western Athletic.
The Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC and Pac-12 conference winners are granted automatic qualification into the one the following bowl games (Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl). The other conference winners can qualify for a BCS bowl game by ranking in the top 12 or top 16 in the final BCS standings. The remaining teams that play in BCS games are chosen on at-large by the bowls.
The top two teams in the BCS standings play in the BCS National Championship Game. Those games are rotated among Glendale, Ariz.; Miami; New Orleans; and Pasadena, Calif.
The Harris Interactive College Football Poll, USA Today Coaches Poll and computer rankings each make up one-third of the BCS standings. Computer rankings used in this process are: Anderson & Hester, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin and Peter Wolfe. Each computer ranking provider accounts for schedule strength within its formula.
In June 2012, the 11 commissioners and the Notre Dame director of athletics approved a four-team, three-game playoff system to decide the Football Bowl Subdivision champion effective for the 2014 season.
The format calls for two of the major bowls to rotate as sites for national semifinal games on either New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day followed by a championship game the following week. However, the national championship game wouldn’t necessarily be played at a current major bowl site.
A selection committee will be formed to determine the playoff teams. Who and how many people will make up the selection committee, the name of the new system and how revenue from the playoffs will be distributed will be determined later.
Currently, there are 30 other bowl games that contractually tied to the FBS conferences. To become bowl eligible a team must have a winning record, which may include one win against a FCS opponent, or win their conference and the team must not be on postseason probation. The NCAA allows one victory per season over a FCS team to count toward an FBS team's bowl eligibility, so long as the FCS team has supplied financial aid for football averaging out to at at least at 90 percent of the 63 scholarships allowed over "a rolling two-year period" that can include the current season.Last Updated: Nov 20, 2012