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From Polls to Playoff, Part 2: The System Breaks

From Polls to Playoff, Part 2: The System Breaks

Beginning in 1936, the Associated Press ranked the nation’s top twenty football teams and awarded a national championship at the end of the regular season. Although bowl games (usually somewhere between five and seven) existed in these early days, the bowls were not taken into account when determining the national champion. There were several reasons the bowls were not included, including maintaining the amateur emphasis of college football, the fact the bowls were exhibitions, and the fact that most schools or conferences attempted to share the wealth by forbidding teams from attending the same bowl game in consecutive years.

From Polls to Playoff: A brief history of the evolution of how college football determines the national champion

2014 will see the first-ever formal playoff at the highest level of college football. Playoffs have been held for years among the lower divisions, but this will be the first time that the FBS (formerly Division I-A) presents a round of semi-final playoffs followed by a recognized championship game. Unlike other sports that have had playoffs almost from day one, college football has maintained a poll system, followed by a bowl system, and then a series of computer/human selections to determine the two most worthy adversaries in their post-season.

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BCS wrap-up: Alabama, not Notre Dame, wakes up the echoes of past domination

At some point in the next few weeks, after the confetti has been cleared from Sun Life Stadium and the mainstream media’s focus finally diverts from its much-preferred Notre Dame, the question will be asked whether this is the greatest era in Alabama football history.

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