NCAA Division I Football Championship

Last updated
NCAA Division I
Football Championship
NCAA Division I FCS logo.svg
Stadium Toyota Stadium (2010–present)
Location Frisco, Texas (2010–present)
Previous stadiums Finley Stadium (1997–2009)
Marshall University Stadium (1992–1996)
various (1978–1991)
Previous locations Chattanooga, Tennessee (1997–2009)
Huntington, West Virginia (1992–1996)
various (1978–1991)
Operated2006–present
Preceded byNCAA Division I-AA Football Championship (1978–2005)
2022 season matchup
South Dakota State vs. North Dakota State
(South Dakota State 45–21)
2023 season matchup
South Dakota State vs. Montana
(South Dakota State 23–3)

The NCAA Division I Football Championship is an annual post-season college football game, played since 2006, used to determine a national champion of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). From 1978 to 2005, the game was known as the NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship.

Contents

The game serves as the final match of an annual postseason bracket tournament between top teams in FCS. Since 2013, 24 teams normally participate in the tournament, with some teams receiving automatic bids upon winning their conference championship, and other teams determined by a selection committee. The reigning national champions are the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, who have won back-to-back championship games for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

The FCS is the highest division in college football to hold a playoff tournament sanctioned by the NCAA to determine its champion, as the College Football Playoff currently used by the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) is not NCAA-sanctioned.

History

Playoff format

In the inaugural season of Division I-AA, the 1978 postseason included just four teams; three regional champions (East, West, and South) plus an at-large selection. [1] The field doubled to eight teams in 1981, with champions of five conferences—Big Sky, Mid-Eastern, Ohio Valley, Southwestern, and Yankee—receiving automatic bids. [2] The top four teams were seeded, and then matched against the four remaining teams based on geographical proximity. [3] The tournament was expanded to 12 teams in 1982, with each of the top four seeds receiving a first-round bye and a home game in the quarterfinals. [4] Champions of the Southern and Southland conferences also received automatic bids. [5]

The number of automatic bids has varied over time, due to changes in the number and size of conferences, with an automatic bid typically granted only to champions of conferences with at least six teams. [6] Initially, the tournament was played in December; since the expansion to twelve teams in 1982, earlier rounds have been held in late November.

The playoffs expanded to a 16-team format in 1986, requiring four postseason victories to win the title. Initially, only the top four teams were seeded, [7] with other teams geographically placed in the bracket. From 1995 through 2000, all 16 teams were seeded, independent of geography. In 2001, the number of seeded teams was reduced to four, with the seeded teams assured of home games in early tournament rounds, and other teams once again placed in the bracket to minimize travel. [8] Home team designation in games between unseeded teams is determined based on several factors, including attendance history and revenue potential. [9]

In April 2008, the NCAA announced that the playoff field would expand to 20 teams in 2010, with the Big South and Northeast Conference earning automatic bids for the first time. [10] That bracket structure included seeding of the top five teams. Twelve teams received first-round byes; the remaining eight teams played first-round games, with the four winners advancing to face the top four seeds. The playoffs expanded to 24 teams beginning in 2013, with the champion of the Pioneer Football League receiving an automatic bid for the first time. [11] The number of seeded teams was increased to eight, with the 16 unseeded teams playing in first-round games. The unseeded teams continue to be paired according to geographic proximity and then placed in the bracket according to geographic proximity to the top eight seeds. Teams cannot travel more than 400 miles via ground, and teams from the same conference that played each other during the regular season are not paired for first-round games. [12] For the 2020 season, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the bracket was reduced to 16 teams. [13] The bracket returned to 24 teams for the 2021 season. [14]

The field is traditionally set the Sunday before Thanksgiving and play begins that weekend.

Appalachian State's National Championship trophies for 2005 (I-AA), 2006 (FCS), and 2007 (FCS). NC TrophiesASU.jpg
Appalachian State's National Championship trophies for 2005 (I-AA), 2006 (FCS), and 2007 (FCS).
Playoff format
Season(s)Bracket
size
Seeded
teams
1st round
byes
1978–19804
198184
1982–19851244
1986–1994164
1995–200016
2001–20094
2010–201220512
2013–20192488
2020164
2021–20232488
2024–present16

Team selection

At-large selections and seeding within the bracket are determined by the FCS Playoff Selection Committee, which consists of one athletic director from each conference with an automatic bid. [15] As of the 2018 season, there were 10 conferences with automatic bids and the selection committee made 14 at-large selections. [15] An 11th automatic bid was added as of the 2021 season, reducing the number of at-large selections to 13. [14]

Championship final

The January 2015 final between North Dakota State and Illinois State at Toyota Stadium Toyotastadiumfcs.jpg
The January 2015 final between North Dakota State and Illinois State at Toyota Stadium

The tournament culminates with the national final, played between the two remaining teams from the playoff bracket. Unlike earlier round games in each year's playoff, which are played at campus sites, the title game is played at a site predetermined by the NCAA, akin to how the NFL predetermines the site for each Super Bowl. Originally played in December, with the 2010 expansion to a 20-team field, the final moved to January, with two or three weeks between the semifinals and final.

The inaugural title game was played in 1978 in Wichita Falls, Texas. The 1979 and 1980 games were held in Orlando, Florida, and Sacramento, California, respectively, and the game returned to Wichita Falls for 1981 and 1982. The games played in Wichita Falls were known as the Pioneer Bowl, while the game played in Sacramento was known as the Camellia Bowl—both names were used for various NCAA playoff games played in those locations, and were not specific to the I-AA championship. In 1983 and 1984, the game was played in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1985 and 1986, Tacoma, Washington, hosted the game, which the NCAA branded as the "Diamond Bowl". [16]

The 1987 and 1988 games were played in Pocatello, Idaho; and from 1989 through 1991, in Statesboro, Georgia. The 1992 through 1996 games were held in Huntington, West Virginia; and from 1997 through 2009, the title game was played in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Since 2010, the title game has been played in Frisco, Texas, a suburb north of Dallas, at Toyota Stadium, a multi-purpose stadium primarily used by FC Dallas of Major League Soccer. The stadium was known as Pizza Hut Park until the day after the final of the 2011 season, and then as FC Dallas Stadium until September 2013. The original contract with Frisco began in the 2010 season and ran through the 2012 season. [17] The contract has since been extended three times; first through the 2015 season, [18] then through the 2019 season, [19] and most recently through the 2024 season with an option for the 2025 season. [20]

Season(s)VenueLocationTenant NCAA teamTitle games by tenant
1978 Memorial Stadium Wichita Falls, Texas noneN/A
1979 Orlando Stadium Orlando, Florida UCF Knights (D-III)N/A
1980 Hughes Stadium Sacramento, California noneN/A
1981–1982Memorial StadiumWichita Falls, TexasnoneN/A
1983–1984 Johnson Hagood Stadium Charleston, South Carolina The Citadel Bulldogs none
1985–1986 Tacoma Dome Tacoma, Washington noneN/A
1987 Minidome Pocatello, Idaho Idaho State Bengals none
1988 Holt Arena
1989–1991 Paulson Stadium Statesboro, Georgia Georgia Southern Eagles 2: 1989, 1990
1992–1996 Marshall University Stadium Huntington, West Virginia Marshall Thundering Herd 4: 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996
1997–2009 Finley Stadium Chattanooga, Tennessee Chattanooga Mocs none
2010–2011 Pizza Hut Park Frisco, Texas noneN/A
2012 FC Dallas Stadium
2013–present Toyota Stadium

at the time games were played
earlier name of the same venue

There have been six instances where a team whose venue was predetermined to host the final game advanced to play for the championship on their own field. Georgia Southern won both title games they played at Paulson Stadium, while Marshall had a 2–2 record in four title games they played at Marshall University Stadium (now known as Joan C. Edwards Stadium).

Non-participants

Three FCS conferences usually do not participate in the tournament: the Ivy League, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC).

The Ivy League has been at the FCS level since 1982 and prohibits its members from awarding athletic scholarships in any sport, plays a strict ten-game regular season and does not participate in any postseason football, citing academic concerns. [21] [22] The MEAC and SWAC, two conferences consisting of historically black colleges and universities, opt to play the Celebration Bowl (which was established in 2015) instead of the FCS tournament. [23] MEAC gave up its automatic spot in the tournament prior to the 2015 season, [24] while the SWAC's regular season extends through the Turkey Day Classic and Bayou Classic at the end of November and the SWAC Championship Game is played in December. Teams from the MEAC and SWAC may accept at-large bids, so long as they aren't committed to other postseason games that would conflict with the tournament. The most recent MEAC and SWAC teams to accept bids were the 2016 North Carolina A&T Aggies and 2021 Florida A&M Rattlers, respectively.

Historically, conferences in FCS that did not offer athletic scholarships were not granted automatic bids into the tournament and, although in theory were eligible for at-large bids, never received any. The last non-scholarship conference in the subdivision, the Pioneer Football League, now receives a tournament bid, which was initiated with the 2013 postseason.

FCS conferences

ConferenceNicknameFoundedFootball membersSportsHeadquarters
Big Sky Conference Big Sky19631216 Ogden, Utah
Big South Conference [lower-alpha 1] Big South1983419 Charlotte, North Carolina
CAA Football [lower-alpha 2] CAA1946 [lower-alpha 3] 151 Richmond, Virginia
Independents 1 [lower-alpha 4] 1
Ivy League [lower-alpha 5] 1954833 Princeton, New Jersey
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference [lower-alpha 6] MEAC1970616 Norfolk, Virginia
Missouri Valley Football Conference MVFC198212 [lower-alpha 7] 1 St. Louis, Missouri
Northeast Conference NEC1981822 Somerset, New Jersey
Ohio Valley Conference [lower-alpha 1] OVC19486 [lower-alpha 8] 18 Brentwood, Tennessee
Patriot League 1986724 Center Valley, Pennsylvania
Pioneer Football League PFL1991111St. Louis, Missouri
Southern Conference SoCon1921920 Spartanburg, South Carolina
Southland Conference 1963617 Frisco, Texas
Southwestern Athletic Conference [lower-alpha 9] SWAC19201218 Birmingham, Alabama
United Athletic Conference UAC2022 [lower-alpha 10] 9 [lower-alpha 11] 1 Englewood, Colorado
Notes
  1. 1 2 The Big South and OVC effectively merged their football leagues in 2023. Both leagues will play full round-robin schedules within their own conferences, plus a smaller number of cross-conference games, and will share a single automatic playoff berth.
  2. CAA Football is administered by the multi-sports Colonial Athletic Association but is a separate legal entity.
  3. Although CAA Football did not exist in its current form until 2007, it claims the football histories of the Yankee Conference (formed in 1946, played football from 1947–1995) and Atlantic 10 Conference (football from 1996–2006). It does not claim the history of the New England Conference (1938–1946), even though four of the six charter Yankee Conference members were NEC members in its final season.
  4. The only independent in the 2023 season, Kennesaw State, is ineligible for the FCS playoffs, as it started a transition to FBS in July 2023. It will join Conference USA in 2024.
  5. The Ivy League abstains from the championship tournament and all postseason play.
  6. The MEAC champion, since 2015, forgoes its automatic bid to allow its champion to participate in the Celebration Bowl. Non-champions are eligible for at-large bids (an example being the 2016 North Carolina A&T Aggies football team).
  7. 11 football members in 2024 with loss of Western Illinois.
  8. 7 OVC football members in 2024 with addition of Western Illinois.
  9. The SWAC abstains from the championship tournament to allow for a longer regular season, a conference final, and participation in the Celebration Bowl against the MEAC champion since 2015.
  10. Formed in 2022 as a full merger of the football leagues of the ASUN Conference and Western Athletic Conference; first season in 2023.
  11. 10 members in 2025 with addition of UTRGV.

Champions

Championship game history

For each season since the inaugural year of Division I-AA play, 1978, the following table lists the date of each title game and the champion. [25] The score and runner-up are also noted, along with the host city, game attendance, and head coach of the championship team.

SeasonDateChampionScoreRunner-upLocationAttendanceWinning
head coach
1978 December 16, 1978 Florida A&M 35–28 Massachusetts Wichita Falls, TX 13,604 Rudy Hubbard
1979 December 15, 1979 Eastern Kentucky 30–7 Lehigh Orlando, FL 5,200 Roy Kidd
1980 December 20, 1980 Boise State 31–29 Eastern Kentucky Sacramento, CA 8,157 Jim Criner
1981 December 19, 1981 Idaho State 34–23 Eastern Kentucky Wichita Falls, TX11,002 Dave Kragthorpe
1982 December 18, 1982 Eastern Kentucky (2)17–14 Delaware Wichita Falls, TX11,257 Roy Kidd (2)
1983 December 17, 1983 Southern Illinois 43–7 Western Carolina Charleston, SC 15,950 Rey Dempsey
1984 December 15, 1984 Montana State 19–6 Louisiana Tech Charleston, SC9,125 Dave Arnold
1985 December 21, 1985 Georgia Southern 44–42 Furman Tacoma, WA 5,306 Erk Russell
1986 December 19, 1986 Georgia Southern (2)48–21 Arkansas State Tacoma, WA4,419 Erk Russell (2)
1987 December 19, 1987 Northeast Louisiana 43–42 Marshall Pocatello, ID 11,513 Pat Collins
1988 December 17, 1988 Furman 17–12 Georgia Southern Pocatello, ID9,714 Jimmy Satterfield
1989 December 16, 1989 Georgia Southern (3)37–34 Stephen F. Austin Statesboro, GA 25,725 Erk Russell (3)
1990 December 15, 1990 Georgia Southern (4)36–13 Nevada Statesboro, GA23,204 Tim Stowers
1991 December 21, 1991 Youngstown State 25–17 Marshall Statesboro, GA12,667 Jim Tressel
1992 December 19, 1992 Marshall 31–28 Youngstown State Huntington, WV 31,304 Jim Donnan
1993 December 18, 1993 Youngstown State (2)17–5 Marshall Huntington, WV29,218 Jim Tressel (2)
1994 December 17, 1994 Youngstown State (3)28–14 Boise State Huntington, WV27,674 Jim Tressel (3)
1995 December 16, 1995 Montana 22–20 Marshall Huntington, WV32,106 Don Read
1996 December 21, 1996 Marshall (2)49–29 Montana Huntington, WV30,052 Bob Pruett
1997 December 20, 1997 Youngstown State (4)10–9 McNeese State Chattanooga, TN 14,771 Jim Tressel (4)
1998 December 19, 1998 Massachusetts 55–43 Georgia Southern Chattanooga, TN17,501 Mark Whipple
1999 December 18, 1999 Georgia Southern (5)59–24 Youngstown State Chattanooga, TN20,052 Paul Johnson
2000 December 16, 2000 Georgia Southern (6)27–25 Montana Chattanooga, TN17,156 Paul Johnson (2)
2001 December 21, 2001 Montana (2)13–6 Furman Chattanooga, TN12,698 Joe Glenn
2002 December 20, 2002 Western Kentucky 34–14 McNeese State Chattanooga, TN12,360 Jack Harbaugh
2003 December 19, 2003 Delaware 40–0 Colgate Chattanooga, TN14,281 K. C. Keeler
2004 December 17, 2004 James Madison 31–21 Montana Chattanooga, TN16,771 Mickey Matthews
2005 December 16, 2005 Appalachian State 21–16 Northern Iowa Chattanooga, TN20,236 Jerry Moore
2006 December 15, 2006 Appalachian State (2)28–17 Massachusetts Chattanooga, TN22,808 Jerry Moore (2)
2007 December 14, 2007 Appalachian State (3)49–21 Delaware Chattanooga, TN23,010 Jerry Moore (3)
2008 December 19, 2008 Richmond 24–7 Montana Chattanooga, TN17,823 Mike London
2009 December 18, 2009 Villanova 23–21 Montana Chattanooga, TN14,328 Andy Talley
2010 January 7, 2011 Eastern Washington 20–19 Delaware Frisco, TX 13,027 Beau Baldwin
2011 January 7, 2012 North Dakota State 17–6 Sam Houston State Frisco, TX20,586 Craig Bohl
2012 January 5, 2013 North Dakota State (2)39–13 Sam Houston State Frisco, TX21,411 Craig Bohl (2)
2013 January 4, 2014 North Dakota State (3)35–7 Towson Frisco, TX19,802 Craig Bohl (3)
2014 January 10, 2015 North Dakota State (4)29–27 Illinois State Frisco, TX20,918 Chris Klieman
2015 January 9, 2016 North Dakota State (5)37–10 Jacksonville State Frisco, TX21,836 Chris Klieman (2)
2016 January 7, 2017 James Madison (2)28–14 Youngstown State Frisco, TX14,423 Mike Houston
2017 January 6, 2018 North Dakota State (6)17–13 James Madison Frisco, TX19,090 Chris Klieman (3)
2018 January 5, 2019 North Dakota State (7)38–24 Eastern Washington Frisco, TX17,802 Chris Klieman (4)
2019 January 11, 2020 North Dakota State (8)28–20 James Madison Frisco, TX17,866 Matt Entz
2020 May 16, 2021 Sam Houston 23–21 South Dakota State Frisco, TX7,840 K. C. Keeler (2)
2021 January 8, 2022 North Dakota State (9)38–10 Montana State Frisco, TX18,942 Matt Entz (2)
2022 January 8, 2023 South Dakota State 45–21 North Dakota State Frisco, TX18,023 John Stiegelmeier
2023 January 7, 2024 South Dakota State (2)23–3 Montana Frisco, TX19,512 Jimmy Rogers

Notes:

Appearances by team

Key

SchoolConference
(as of 2024)
#16QFSFCGCH 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
North Dakota State MVFC 14141412109QFCHCHCHCHCHSFCHCHCHQFCHRUSF
Georgia Southern FBS1919171386CHCHQFRUCHCHQFQFQFRUCHCHSFSF1616SFSFSF
Youngstown State MVFC 1313987416QF16CHRUCHCHCHRU16SFRU16
Appalachian State FBS20201263316SF161616QFQFQF16SFQF16CHCHCHQFSFQF1616
Montana Big Sky 28281512821216SF16SFCHRU161616RUCHQF16RU16SF16RURUSF161616QFQF16RU
Marshall FBS888762RUQFRUCHRUSFRUCH
Eastern Kentucky UAC 22199742CHRURUCH1212SFQFSF1616SF1616QF16161616
James Madison FBS1817974216QFQF1616CH1616SF1616CHRU16RUSFSF
South Dakota State MVFC 1312763216161616QFSFSF16RUSFCHCH
Delaware Coastal 191813841QFRUQF1616SFQFQF16SFSFCHQFRURUSF1616
Sam Houston FBS1313107311616QFSFRURU16SFSFQFSFCHQF
Furman Southern 20191063112SFRU16CHSFQFQF1616RU16QFSF16161616QF
UMass FBS885331RU1616CHQF16RUQF
Eastern Washington Big Sky 151510621QF16SFQF16QF16CHSFSFQFSFRU1616
Montana State Big Sky 13127421CH1616QF16QFQF16SFRUSF16
Boise State FBS554421CHSF16SFRU
Villanova Coastal 1513831116161616QFSFQFCHSFQF16QFQF
Richmond Coastal 13138311QF1616QFQFSFCHQF16SFQF1616
Southern Illinois MVFC 11116211CH1616QFQFSF16QFQF1616
Florida A&M SWAC 873211CH1616QFSF1616
Western Kentucky FBS88511116QFQFQF16CHQF16
Louisiana–Monroe FBS442111CH16QF16
Idaho State Big Sky 221111CH12
McNeese Southland 1616632-16QFQFQFSFRU161616RU161616161616
Northern Iowa MVFC 22201471-SFSF16QFSF1616QFSFSFQFRUQFSFQF16QF1616QF
Nevada FBS77761-SFSFSFSFSFRUQF
Lehigh Patriot 119621-RUSFQF16QFQF1616QF
Illinois State MVFC 87621-16SFQFQFRUQFQF
Stephen F. Austin UAC 86421-QFRU16SFQF16
Louisiana Tech FBS22221-SFRU
Colgate Patriot 1110411-QF12161616RU1616QFQF
Arkansas State FBS44411-QFQFRUQF
Jacksonville State FBS1010311-161616QF16RU161616QF
Towson Coastal 32111-16RU
Western Carolina Southern 11111-RU
New Hampshire Coastal 171692--1616QFQFQF16QFQFQF1616SFSF16QF16
Idaho Big Sky 131252--QF121616SF16QF16SF1616QF
William & Mary Coastal 111152--1616QF16QF16SFSF1616QF
Troy FBS7732--SF1616SF16QF16
Wofford Southern 10961--SFQF16QF16QFQFQF16
Middle Tennessee FBS7761--SFQFQFQFQFQF16
Weber State Big Sky 10951--QF16QF16QFQFSF1616
Western Illinois Big South–OVC 111041--161616QFSF16QFQF1616
Maine Coastal 8841--1616QFQF16QF16SF
Tennessee State Big South–OVC 6631--QFSFQF161616
Rhode Island Coastal 3331--QFSFQF
Jackson State SWAC 121221--SFQF12121616161616161616
Northwestern State Southland 6621--QF16SF161616
Murray State MVFC 5521--SF1616QF16
South Carolina State MEAC 6421--SFQF1616
Samford Southern 6321--SF16QF
Grambling State SWAC 3311--SF1216
Albany Coastal 3211--16SF
Incarnate Word Southland 3211--16SF
UCF FBS2211--SF16
' Texas State FBS2211--SF16
Florida Atlantic FBS1111--SF
Eastern Illinois Big South–OVC 16144---QF12QFQF161616161616161616QF
Holy Cross Patriot 652---QF161616QF
Boston University no team552---12QF12QF16
Hofstra no team552---1616QFQF16
Coastal Carolina FBS642---1616QFQF
Kennesaw State FBS442---QFQF1616
Indiana State MVFC 332---QFQF16
East Tennessee State Southern 322---QFQF
Nicholls Southland 751---QF16161616
The Citadel Southern 551---1616QF1616
Chattanooga Southern 551---12QF161616
Northern Arizona Big Sky 641---161616QF
Fordham Patriot 641---QF161616
North Carolina A&T Coastal 541---1616QF16
Southeastern Louisiana Southland 541---QF161616
North Texas FBS441---QF161616
Sacramento State Big Sky 441---1616QF16
Missouri State MVFC 431---QF1616
Cal Poly Big Sky 431---QF1616
Alcorn State SWAC 331---QF1616
North Dakota MVFC 521---16QF
South Dakota MVFC 321---16QF
Old Dominion FBS221---16QF
Charleston Southern Big South–OVC 211---QF
UC Davis Big Sky 211---QF
Austin Peay UAC 211---QF
UConn FBS111---QF
Hampton Coastal 55----1616161616
Central Arkansas UAC 55----1616161616
Bethune–Cookman SWAC 53----161616
Lafayette Patriot 53----161616
Stony Brook Coastal 43----161616
San Diego Pioneer 52----1616
Southeast Missouri State Big South–OVC 42----1616
Monmouth Coastal 32----1616
Portland State Big Sky 22----1616
UT Martin Big South–OVC 22----1616
Elon Coastal 41----16
Sacred Heart Northeast 41----16
Southern Utah UAC 31----16
Davidson Pioneer 31----16
Duquesne Northeast 31----16
Gardner–Webb Big South–OVC 21----16
Mississippi Valley State SWAC 11----12
Akron FBS11----12
Howard MEAC 11----16
Northeastern no team11----16
Delaware State MEAC 11----16
Wagner Northeast 11----16
Liberty FBS11----16
VMI Southern 11----16
Mercer Southern 11----16
Saint Francis (PA) Northeast 2-----
Central Connecticut Northeast 2-----
Robert Morris Northeast 1-----
Norfolk State MEAC 1-----
Tennessee Tech Big South–OVC 1-----
Butler Pioneer 1-----
Morgan State MEAC 1-----
Dayton Pioneer 1-----
Lamar Southland 1-----
North Carolina Central MEAC 1-----
Drake Pioneer 1-----
SchoolConference#16QFSFCGCH 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

MVPs

Bo Levi Mitchell was MVP of the final for the 2010 season. Bo Levi Mitchell.JPG
Bo Levi Mitchell was MVP of the final for the 2010 season.

Since 2009, a Most Outstanding Player has been named for each final. [26]

SeasonPlayerTeamPosition
2009 Matt Szczur VillanovaWR
2010 Bo Levi Mitchell Eastern WashingtonQB
2011Travis BeckNorth Dakota StateLB
2012 Brock Jensen North Dakota StateQB
2013Brock JensenNorth Dakota StateQB
2014 Carson Wentz North Dakota StateQB
2015Carson WentzNorth Dakota StateQB
2016 Khalid Abdullah [27] James MadisonRB
2017 Easton Stick North Dakota StateQB
2018 Darrius Shepherd North Dakota StateWR
2019 Trey Lance North Dakota StateQB
2020Jequez EzzardSam HoustonWR
2021 Hunter Luepke North Dakota StateFB
2022 Mark Gronowski [28] South Dakota StateQB
2023Mark Gronowski [29] South Dakota StateQB

Note: starting with the 2010 season, the final game is played in the next calendar year.

Most appearances

The following table summarizes appearances in the final, by team, since the 1978 season, the first year of Division I-AA (the predecessor of FCS).

Updated through the January 2024 championship game (46 finals, 92 total appearances). Schools are listed by their current athletic brand names, which do not always match those used in a given season.

TeamRecordAppearances by season
GamesWLWin pct.WonLost
North Dakota State
10
91.9002011*, 2012*, 2013*, 2014*, 2015*, 2017*, 2018*, 2019*, 2021*2022*
Georgia Southern^
8
62.7501985, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1999, 20001988, 1998
Montana
8
26.2501995, 20011996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2023*
Youngstown State
7
43.5711991, 1993, 1994, 19971992, 1999, 2016*
Marshall^
6
24.3331992, 19961987, 1991, 1993, 1995
James Madison^
4
22.5002004, 2016*2017*, 2019*
Eastern Kentucky
4
22.5001979, 19821980, 1981
Delaware
4
13.25020031982, 2007, 2010*
Appalachian State^
3
301.0002005, 2006, 2007
South Dakota State
3
21.6672022*, 2023*2020*
Furman
3
12.33319881985, 2001
Sam Houston^
3
12.3332020*2011*, 2012*
Massachusetts^
3
12.33319981978, 2006
Boise State^
2
11.50019801994
Eastern Washington
2
11.5002010*2018*
Montana State
2
11.50019842021*
McNeese
2
02.0001997, 2002
Florida A&M
1
101.0001978
Idaho State
1
101.0001981
Louisiana–Monroe^
1
101.0001987
Richmond
1
101.0002008
Southern Illinois
1
101.0001983
Villanova
1
101.0002009
Western Kentucky^
1
101.0002002
Arkansas State^
1
01.0001986
Colgate
1
01.0002003
Illinois State
1
01.0002014*
Jacksonville State^
1
01.0002015*
Lehigh
1
01.0001979
Louisiana Tech^
1
01.0001984
Nevada^
1
01.0001990
Northern Iowa
1
01.0002005
Stephen F. Austin
1
01.0001989
Towson
1
01.0002013*
Western Carolina
1
01.0001983
* Denotes finals played in the following calendar year.
^ Team is now a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

Appearances by conference

The following table summarizes appearances in the final, by conference, since the 1978 season, the first year of Division I-AA (the predecessor of FCS).

Updated through the January 2024 championship game (46 finals, 92 total appearances).

ConferenceRecordAppearances by season
GamesWLWin pct.WonLost
MVFC 19136.6841997, 2002, 2011*, 2012*, 2013*, 2014*, 2015*, 2017*, 2018*, 2019*, 2021*, 2022*, 2023*1999, 2005, 2014*, 2016*, 2020*, 2022*
SoCon 1688.5001988, 1992, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 20071983, 1985, 1987, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2001
Big Sky 16610.3751980, 1981, 1984, 1995, 2001, 2010*1990, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2018*, 2021*, 2023*
Independent 1174.6361985, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 19941979, 1982, 1988, 1992
Southland 927.2221987, 2020*1984, 1986, 1989, 1997, 2002, 2011*, 2012*
CAA Football 835.3752008, 2009, 2016*2007, 2010*, 2013*, 2017*, 2019*
OVC 523.4001979, 19821980, 1981, 2015*
A-10 431.7501998, 2003, 20042006
MVC 1101.0001983 
SIAC 1101.0001978 
Patriot League 101.000 2003
Yankee 101.000 1978

Game records

This table lists records for the Championship Game.

 RecordTeamOpponentGame
Most points scored (one team)59Georgia SouthernYoungstown State 1999
Most points scored (losing team)43Georgia SouthernUMass 1998
Most points scored (both teams)98UMass (55)Georgia Southern (43)
Fewest points allowed0DelawareColgate 2003
Largest margin of victory40Delaware (40)Colgate (0)
Attendance32,106Montana vs. Marshall 1995

Media coverage

The game has been televised on an ESPN affiliated network since 1995.

Season(s)Television
1978–1981 ABC
1982 CBS Sports
1983 ABC
1984 Satellite Program Network
1985–1989 ESPN
1990–1994 CBS
1995–2001 ESPN
2002–2018 ESPN2
2019–2020 ABC [30]
2021 ESPN2
2022–present ABC

Note: starting with the 2010 season, the final game is played in the next calendar year.

DateNetwork Play-by-play announcers Color commentators Sideline reporters
January 8, 2023 ABC Roy Philpott Jay Walker Paul Carcaterra
January 8, 2022 ESPN2 Dave Flemming Stormy Buonatony
May 16, 2021ABC Dave Pasch Andre Ware Kris Budden
January 11, 2020 Mark Jones Dusty Dvoracek Olivia Dekker
January 5, 2019ESPN2Taylor Zarzour Matt Stinchcomb Kris Budden
January 6, 2018 Dave Neal Quint Kessenich
January 7, 2017 Anish Shroff Ahmad D. Brooks
January 9, 2016
January 10, 2015 Kelly Stouffer Cara Capuano
January 4, 2014
January 5, 2013Dave NealJay Walker
January 7, 2012 David Diaz-Infante Allison Williams
January 7, 2011Andre WareJon Berger
December 18, 2009 Eric Collins Brock Huard Cara Campuano
December 19, 2008 Bob Wischusen
December 14, 2007 Sean McDonough Chris Spielman Rob Stone
December 15, 2006Dave Pasch Rod Gilmore and Trevor Matich Dave Ryan
December 16, 2005 Stacey Dales-Schuman
December 17, 2004Rob Stone
December 19, 2003Sean McDonough Mike Golic and Rod GilmoreRob Stone
December 20, 2002 Ron Franklin Mike Gottfried Adrian Karsten
December 21, 2001 ESPN
December 16, 2000 Rich Waltz Rod Gilmore Dave Ryan
December 18, 1999 Don McPherson
December 19, 1998 Dave Barnett Bill Curry Dave Ryan
December 20, 1997
December 21, 1996 Brad Nessler Gary Danielson
December 16, 1995 Joel Meyers Todd Christensen Adrian Karsten
December 17, 1994 CBS Sean McDonough Steve Davis Dave Logan
December 18, 1993 Dan Jiggetts Jim Gray
December 19, 1992 Jim Nantz John Robinson
December 21, 1991Brad NesslerDan Jiggetts
December 15, 1990Jim Nantz Tim Brant John Dockery
December 16, 1989ESPN Barry Tompkins Stan White
December 17, 1988 Tim Brando
December 19, 1987Denny Schreiner
December 19, 1986Tim BrandoKevin Kiley
December 21, 1985 Mike Patrick Sam Adkins
December 15, 1984 Satellite Program Network Bill Flemming Steve Davis
December 17, 1983ABC Keith Jackson Frank Broyles
December 18, 1982CBS Lindsey Nelson Steve Davis
December 19, 1981ABCBill FlemmingFrank Broyles
December 20, 1980
December 15, 1979
December 16, 1978

See also

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