You are here

Celebrating 150 Years of College Football

On Nov. 6, 1869, two teams from East Coast universities took the field and kicked off a storied tradition. About 100 spectators cheered student-athletes from Princeton and Rutgers in what is regarded as the first collegiate football game in history. It was a humble beginning to a sport that now captivates millions of people every year, from the athletes who suit up in helmets and pads to the fans who swarm stadiums on game day. Even more impactful than memorable plays on the field, football has served as the catalyst to crucial advances in all sports, starting with the formation of the NCAA in 1906. College football has left an indelible imprint on our culture in its first century and half — one that is worth celebrating all season long.

A Gridiron Milestone

gridiron timeline image

Since its beginnings in a matchup between a pair of East Coast schools, college football has had a long history intermingled with efforts to make the game safer. Here are highlights from the sport’s first century and a half.

Explore the Timeline >>

Did You Know?

  • The Division I bowl games and the College Football Playoff are independently operated, and the NCAA does not receive revenue from these events. 
  • One of every 4 NCAA football student-athletes are first-generation college students. That’s the highest percentage of first-generation college students participating in any NCAA sport, according to the NCAA GOALS study.  
  • While participation in football is falling at the youth level, the number of NCAA schools sponsoring the sport has increased 6.7 percent over the past decade. In 2018, more than 60% of NCAA schools sponsored football. 
  • The NCAA-U.S. Department of Defense Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium is the largest concussion and repetitive head impact study in history. The project, funded by the NCAA and DOD, launched in 2014 and now includes participants on 30 campuses across the country.

College Football's Already Rich Playoff History

Think the College Football Playoff is something new? Here, the seven most thrilling, surprising, exhilarating games from the first 41 years of college football playoffs.

Read More > >
NCAA chief medical officer reflects on progress of concussion research

With concussion and its consequences — particularly among those who play football — emerging as one of the foremost concerns in college sports, two veteran neuroscientists recently joined forces to edit a comprehensive review of sport and the brain.

Read More > >
East Stroudsburg football coach calls it a career with an unmatched exit

Dennis Douds never circled 2018 as the end of his football coaching career.

Read More > >
#CFB150: Inside the making of a season-long celebration

The NCAA recently caught up with Kevin Weiberg, the executive director of the College Football 150th Anniversary, to learn more about this season of celebration.

Read More >
Lost and Found

Shut down for two years, UAB football is back after program finds strength and solution in its community.

Read More > >
The Play, Annotated

Few moments achieve enough infamy to become known by a single noun, but The Play qualifies.

Read More > >
Linfield has produced 62 consecutive winning football seasons as another campaign draws near

“The Mickey Mouse Club” debuted on American television in 1955. That same year, Linfield football posted a 3-6 record.

Read More > >
A Tone of Tradition

On the second weekend in November, two communities in west central Indiana collide in the oldest football rivalry west of the Allegheny Mountains. In its 119th year, the Monon Bell Classic extends beyond the campuses of DePauw University in Greencastle and Wabash College in Crawfordsville to transcend the sport itself.

Read More > >
College quarterback loves his roles as a star of stage and turf

Whenever Zach Fogel needs a reminder not to take off for Broadway, he reads a note he left to himself on his phone titled “Why I Play Football.”

Read More > >
Impact Player

Football places Vanderbilt's Oren Burks in position to tackle society's pressing questions.

Read More > >
An unforgettable finish: 1999 Division II Football Championship Final

Down 17 at halftime and by 15 with only three minutes to play, Northwest Missouri State refused to buckle. J.R. Hill caught a pair of touchdown passes in the final three minutes, the second of which was followed by a 2-point conversion.

Read More > >
An unforgettable finish: 1984 Division II Football Championship Final

With starting quarterback Jeff Bentrim sidelined with an injury and North Dakota State trailing Troy State (now known as Troy) by 1 point, fifth-year backup Dale Hammerschmidt guided the Bison on a 78-yard drive. 

Read More > >