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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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Guest Commentary: A Look Back: When Bear Broke The Record

(On November 28, 1981 – thirty years ago this coming Monday – Paul William “Bear” Bryant surpassed Amos Alonzo Stagg to become the winningest coach in NCAA Division-I history. This post is a look back through the final phase of Bryant’s pursuit of the record along with some thoughts from an adolescent of 30 years ago viewed through adult eyes).

It hadn’t seemed possible just a few years earlier. But the countdown began on October 4, 1980, when Paul “Bear” Bryant became just the third coach in NCAA Division I-A history to win his 300th game with a 45-0 pasting of Kentucky. The Tide was in the midst of its greatest ever run, a decade-long dynasty that netted the Tide three national championships (and losing a fourth on a disputed vote), five straight 11-1 seasons, nine SEC titles, and an overall record (1971-81) of 117-14-1 for an unheard of winning percentage of .886. The win against Kentucky put Bryant within striking distance of the all-time record of NCAA wins held by Amos Alonzo Stagg, who coached for 65 years and won 314 games. Looking over the horizon, the Bama faithful began to count down the wins until Bryant would be the winningest coach in college football history.

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