NCAA Division I
Football Championship
StadiumToyota Stadium (2010–present)
LocationFrisco, Texas (2010–present)
Previous stadiumsFinley Stadium (1997–2009)
Marshall University Stadium (1992–1996)
various (1978–1991)
Previous locationsChattanooga, 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.

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).
Playoff format
Season(s) Bracket
size
Seeded
teams
1st round
byes
1978–1980 4
1981 8 4
1982–1985 12 4 4
1986–1994 16 4
1995–2000 16
2001–2009 4
2010–2012 20 5 12
2013–2019 24 8 8
2020 16 4
2021–present 24 8 8

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

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) Venue Location Tenant NCAA team† Title games by tenant
1978 Memorial Stadium Wichita Falls, Texas none N/A
1979 Orlando Stadium Orlando, Florida UCF Knights (D-III) N/A
1980 Hughes Stadium Sacramento, California none N/A
1981–1982 Memorial Stadium Wichita Falls, Texas none N/A
1983–1984 Johnson Hagood Stadium Charleston, South Carolina The Citadel Bulldogs none
1985–1986 Tacoma Dome Tacoma, Washington none N/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 none N/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

Conference Nickname Founded Football members Sports Headquarters
Big Sky Conference Big Sky 1963 12 16 Ogden, Utah
Big South Conference[a] Big South 1983 4 19 Charlotte, North Carolina
CAA Football[b] CAA 1946[c] 15 1 Richmond, Virginia
Independents 1[d] 1
Ivy League[e] 1954 8 33 Princeton, New Jersey
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference[f] MEAC 1970 6 16 Norfolk, Virginia
Missouri Valley Football Conference MVFC 1982 12[g] 1 St. Louis, Missouri
Northeast Conference NEC 1981 8 22 Somerset, New Jersey
Ohio Valley Conference[a] OVC 1948 6[h] 18 Brentwood, Tennessee
Patriot League 1986 7 24 Center Valley, Pennsylvania
Pioneer Football League PFL 1991 11 1 St. Louis, Missouri
Southern Conference SoCon 1921 9 20 Spartanburg, South Carolina
Southland Conference 1963 6 17 Frisco, Texas
Southwestern Athletic Conference[i] SWAC 1920 12 18 Birmingham, Alabama
United Athletic Conference UAC 2022[j] 9[k] 1 Englewood, Colorado
Notes
  1. ^ a b 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.

See also: List of NCAA Division I FCS playoff appearances by team

Season Date Champion Score Runner-up Location Attendance Winning
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, TX 11,002 Dave Kragthorpe
1982 December 18, 1982 Eastern Kentucky (2) 17–14 Delaware Wichita Falls, TX 11,257 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, SC 9,125 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, WA 4,419 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, ID 9,714 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, GA 23,204 Tim Stowers
1991 December 21, 1991 Youngstown State 25–17 Marshall Statesboro, GA 12,667 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, WV 29,218 Jim Tressel (2)
1994 December 17, 1994 Youngstown State (3) 28–14 Boise State Huntington, WV 27,674 Jim Tressel (3)
1995 December 16, 1995 Montana 22–20 Marshall Huntington, WV 32,106 Don Read
1996 December 21, 1996 Marshall (2) 49–29 Montana Huntington, WV 30,052 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, TN 17,501 Mark Whipple
1999 December 18, 1999 Georgia Southern (5) 59–24 Youngstown State Chattanooga, TN 20,052 Paul Johnson
2000 December 16, 2000 Georgia Southern (6) 27–25 Montana Chattanooga, TN 17,156 Paul Johnson (2)
2001 December 21, 2001 Montana (2) 13–6 Furman Chattanooga, TN 12,698 Joe Glenn
2002 December 20, 2002 Western Kentucky 34–14 McNeese State Chattanooga, TN 12,360 Jack Harbaugh
2003 December 19, 2003 Delaware 40–0 Colgate Chattanooga, TN 14,281 K. C. Keeler
2004 December 17, 2004 James Madison 31–21 Montana Chattanooga, TN 16,771 Mickey Matthews
2005 December 16, 2005 Appalachian State 21–16 Northern Iowa Chattanooga, TN 20,236 Jerry Moore
2006 December 15, 2006 Appalachian State (2) 28–17 Massachusetts Chattanooga, TN 22,808 Jerry Moore (2)
2007 December 14, 2007 Appalachian State (3) 49–21 Delaware Chattanooga, TN 23,010 Jerry Moore (3)
2008 December 19, 2008 Richmond 24–7 Montana Chattanooga, TN 17,823 Mike London
2009 December 18, 2009 Villanova 23–21 Montana Chattanooga, TN 14,328 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, TX 20,586 Craig Bohl
2012 January 5, 2013 North Dakota State (2) 39–13 Sam Houston State Frisco, TX 21,411 Craig Bohl (2)
2013 January 4, 2014 North Dakota State (3) 35–7 Towson Frisco, TX 19,802 Craig Bohl (3)
2014 January 10, 2015 North Dakota State (4) 29–27 Illinois State Frisco, TX 20,918 Chris Klieman
2015 January 9, 2016 North Dakota State (5) 37–10 Jacksonville State Frisco, TX 21,836 Chris Klieman (2)
2016 January 7, 2017 James Madison (2) 28–14 Youngstown State Frisco, TX 14,423 Mike Houston
2017 January 6, 2018 North Dakota State (6) 17–13 James Madison Frisco, TX 19,090 Chris Klieman (3)
2018 January 5, 2019 North Dakota State (7) 38–24 Eastern Washington Frisco, TX 17,802 Chris Klieman (4)
2019 January 11, 2020 North Dakota State (8) 28–20 James Madison Frisco, TX 17,866 Matt Entz
2020 May 16, 2021 Sam Houston 23–21 South Dakota State Frisco, TX 7,840 K. C. Keeler (2)
2021 January 8, 2022 North Dakota State (9) 38–10 Montana State Frisco, TX 18,942 Matt Entz (2)
2022 January 8, 2023 South Dakota State 45–21 North Dakota State Frisco, TX 18,023 John Stiegelmeier
2023 January 7, 2024 South Dakota State (2) 23–3 Montana Frisco, TX 19,512 Jimmy Rogers

Notes:

Appearances by team

Key

School Conference
(as of 2024)
# 16 QF SF CG CH 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 14 14 14 12 10 9 QF CH CH CH CH CH SF CH CH CH QF CH RU SF
Georgia Southern FBS 19 19 17 13 8 6 CH CH QF RU CH CH QF QF QF RU CH CH SF SF 16 16 SF SF SF
Youngstown State MVFC 13 13 9 8 7 4 16 QF 16 CH RU CH CH CH RU 16 SF RU 16
Appalachian State FBS 20 20 12 6 3 3 16 SF 16 16 16 QF QF QF 16 SF QF 16 CH CH CH QF SF QF 16 16
Montana Big Sky 28 28 15 12 8 2 12 16 SF 16 SF CH RU 16 16 16 RU CH QF 16 RU 16 SF 16 RU RU SF 16 16 16 QF QF 16 RU
Marshall FBS 8 8 8 7 6 2 RU QF RU CH RU SF RU CH
Eastern Kentucky UAC 22 19 9 7 4 2 CH RU RU CH 12 12 SF QF SF 16 16 SF 16 16 QF 16 16 16 16
James Madison FBS 18 17 9 7 4 2 16 QF QF 16 16 CH 16 16 SF 16 16 CH RU 16 RU SF SF
South Dakota State MVFC 13 12 7 6 3 2 16 16 16 16 QF SF SF 16 RU SF CH CH
Delaware Coastal 19 18 13 8 4 1 QF RU QF 16 16 SF QF QF 16 SF SF CH QF RU RU SF 16 16
Sam Houston FBS 13 13 10 7 3 1 16 16 QF SF RU RU 16 SF SF QF SF CH QF
Furman Southern 20 19 10 6 3 1 12 SF RU 16 CH SF QF QF 16 16 RU 16 QF SF 16 16 16 16 QF
UMass FBS 8 8 5 3 3 1 RU 16 16 CH QF 16 RU QF
Eastern Washington Big Sky 15 15 10 6 2 1 QF 16 SF QF 16 QF 16 CH SF SF QF SF RU 16 16
Montana State Big Sky 13 12 7 4 2 1 CH 16 16 QF 16 QF QF 16 SF RU SF 16
Boise State FBS 5 5 4 4 2 1 CH SF 16 SF RU
Villanova Coastal 15 13 8 3 1 1 16 16 16 16 QF SF QF CH SF QF 16 QF QF
Richmond Coastal 13 13 8 3 1 1 QF 16 16 QF QF SF CH QF 16 SF QF 16 16
Southern Illinois MVFC 11 11 6 2 1 1 CH 16 16 QF QF SF 16 QF QF 16 16
Florida A&M SWAC 8 7 3 2 1 1 CH 16 16 QF SF 16 16
Western Kentucky FBS 8 8 5 1 1 1 16 QF QF QF 16 CH QF 16
Louisiana–Monroe FBS 4 4 2 1 1 1 CH 16 QF 16
Idaho State Big Sky 2 2 1 1 1 1 CH 12
McNeese Southland 16 16 6 3 2 - 16 QF QF QF SF RU 16 16 16 RU 16 16 16 16 16 16
Northern Iowa MVFC 22 20 14 7 1 - SF SF 16 QF SF 16 16 QF SF SF QF RU QF SF QF 16 QF 16 16 QF
Nevada FBS 7 7 7 6 1 - SF SF SF SF SF RU QF
Lehigh Patriot 11 9 6 2 1 - RU SF QF 16 QF QF 16 16 QF
Illinois State MVFC 8 7 6 2 1 - 16 SF QF QF RU QF QF
Stephen F. Austin UAC 8 6 4 2 1 - QF RU 16 SF QF 16
Louisiana Tech FBS 2 2 2 2 1 - SF RU
Colgate Patriot 11 10 4 1 1 - QF 12 16 16 16 RU 16 16 QF QF
Arkansas State FBS 4 4 4 1 1 - QF QF RU QF
Jacksonville State FBS 10 10 3 1 1 - 16 16 16 QF 16 RU 16 16 16 QF
Towson Coastal 3 2 1 1 1 - 16 RU
Western Carolina Southern 1 1 1 1 1 - RU
New Hampshire Coastal 17 16 9 2 - - 16 16 QF QF QF 16 QF QF QF 16 16 SF SF 16 QF 16
Idaho Big Sky 12 12 5 2 - - QF 12 16 16 SF 16 QF 16 SF 16 16 QF
William & Mary Coastal 11 11 5 2 - - 16 16 QF 16 QF 16 SF SF 16 16 QF
Troy FBS 7 7 3 2 - - SF 16 16 SF 16 QF 16
Wofford Southern 10 9 6 1 - - SF QF 16 QF 16 QF QF QF 16
Middle Tennessee FBS 7 7 6 1 - - SF QF QF QF QF QF 16
Weber State Big Sky 10 9 5 1 - - QF 16 QF 16 QF QF SF 16 16
Western Illinois Big South–OVC 11 10 4 1 - - 16 16 16 QF SF 16 QF QF 16 16
Maine Coastal 8 8 4 1 - - 16 16 QF QF 16 QF 16 SF
Tennessee State Big South–OVC 6 6 3 1 - - QF SF QF 16 16 16
Rhode Island Coastal 3 3 3 1 - - QF SF QF
Jackson State SWAC 12 12 2 1 - - SF QF 12 12 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16
Northwestern State Southland 6 6 2 1 - - QF 16 SF 16 16 16
Murray State MVFC 5 5 2 1 - - SF 16 16 QF 16
South Carolina State MEAC 6 4 2 1 - - SF QF 16 16
Samford Southern 6 3 2 1 - - SF 16 QF
Grambling State SWAC 3 3 1 1 - - SF 12 16
Albany Coastal 3 2 1 1 - - 16 SF
Incarnate Word Southland 3 2 1 1 - - 16 SF
UCF FBS 2 2 1 1 - - SF 16
'Texas State FBS 2 2 1 1 - - SF 16
Florida Atlantic FBS 1 1 1 1 - - SF
Eastern Illinois Big South–OVC 16 14 4 - - - QF 12 QF QF 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 QF
Holy Cross Patriot 6 5 2 - - - QF 16 16 16 QF
Boston University no team 5 5 2 - - - 12 QF 12 QF 16
Hofstra no team 5 5 2 - - - 16 16 QF QF 16
Coastal Carolina FBS 6 4 2 - - - 16 16 QF QF
Kennesaw State FBS 4 4 2 - - - QF QF 16 16
Indiana State MVFC 3 3 2 - - - QF QF 16
East Tennessee State Southern 3 2 2 - - - QF QF
Nicholls Southland 7 5 1 - - - QF 16 16 16 16
The Citadel Southern 5 5 1 - - - 16 16 QF 16 16
Chattanooga Southern 5 5 1 - - - 12 QF 16 16 16
Northern Arizona Big Sky 6 4 1 - - - 16 16 16 QF
Fordham Patriot 6 4 1 - - - QF 16 16 16
North Carolina A&T Coastal 5 4 1 - - - 16 16 QF 16
Southeastern Louisiana Southland 5 4 1 - - - QF 16 16 16
North Texas FBS 4 4 1 - - - QF 16 16 16
Sacramento State Big Sky 4 4 1 - - - 16 16 QF 16
Missouri State MVFC 4 3 1 - - - QF 16 16
Cal Poly Big Sky 4 3 1 - - - QF 16 16
Alcorn State SWAC 3 3 1 - - - QF 16 16
North Dakota MVFC 5 2 1 - - - 16 QF
South Dakota MVFC 3 2 1 - - - 16 QF
Old Dominion FBS 2 2 1 - - - 16 QF
Charleston Southern Big South–OVC 2 1 1 - - - QF
UC Davis Big Sky 2 1 1 - - - QF
Austin Peay UAC 2 1 1 - - - QF
UConn FBS 1 1 1 - - - QF
Hampton Coastal 5 5 - - - - 16 16 16 16 16
Central Arkansas UAC 5 5 - - - - 16 16 16 16 16
Bethune–Cookman SWAC 5 3 - - - - 16 16 16
Lafayette Patriot 5 3 - - - - 16 16 16
Stony Brook Coastal 4 3 - - - - 16 16 16
San Diego Pioneer 5 2 - - - - 16 16
Southeast Missouri State Big South–OVC 4 2 - - - - 16 16
Monmouth Coastal 3 2 - - - - 16 16
Portland State Big Sky 2 2 - - - - 16 16
UT Martin Big South–OVC 2 2 - - - - 16 16
Elon Coastal 4 1 - - - - 16
Sacred Heart Northeast 4 1 - - - - 16
Southern Utah UAC 3 1 - - - - 16
Davidson Pioneer 3 1 - - - - 16
Duquesne Northeast 3 1 - - - - 16
Gardner–Webb Big South–OVC 2 1 - - - - 16
Mississippi Valley State SWAC 1 1 - - - - 12
Akron FBS 1 1 - - - - 12
Howard MEAC 1 1 - - - - 16
Northeastern no team 1 1 - - - - 16
Delaware State MEAC 1 1 - - - - 16
Wagner Northeast 1 1 - - - - 16
Liberty FBS 1 1 - - - - 16
VMI Southern 1 1 - - - - 16
Mercer Southern 1 1 - - - - 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 - - - - -
School Conference # 16 QF SF CG CH 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.

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

Season Player Team Position
2009 Matt Szczur Villanova WR
2010 Bo Levi Mitchell Eastern Washington QB
2011 Travis Beck North Dakota State LB
2012 Brock Jensen North Dakota State QB
2013 Brock Jensen North Dakota State QB
2014 Carson Wentz North Dakota State QB
2015 Carson Wentz North Dakota State QB
2016 Khalid Abdullah[27] James Madison RB
2017 Easton Stick North Dakota State QB
2018 Darrius Shepherd North Dakota State WR
2019 Trey Lance North Dakota State QB
2020 Jequez Ezzard Sam Houston WR
2021 Hunter Luepke North Dakota State FB
2022 Mark Gronowski[28] South Dakota State QB
2023 Mark Gronowski[29] South Dakota State QB

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.

Team Record Appearances by season
Games W L Win pct. Won Lost
North Dakota State
10
9 1 .900 2011*, 2012*, 2013*, 2014*, 2015*, 2017*, 2018*, 2019*, 2021* 2022*
Georgia Southern^
8
6 2 .750 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1999, 2000 1988, 1998
Montana
8
2 6 .250 1995, 2001 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2023*
Youngstown State
7
4 3 .571 1991, 1993, 1994, 1997 1992, 1999, 2016*
Marshall^
6
2 4 .333 1992, 1996 1987, 1991, 1993, 1995
James Madison^
4
2 2 .500 2004, 2016* 2017*, 2019*
Eastern Kentucky
4
2 2 .500 1979, 1982 1980, 1981
Delaware
4
1 3 .250 2003 1982, 2007, 2010*
Appalachian State^
3
3 0 1.000 2005, 2006, 2007
South Dakota State
3
2 1 .667 2022*, 2023* 2020*
Furman
3
1 2 .333 1988 1985, 2001
Sam Houston^
3
1 2 .333 2020* 2011*, 2012*
Massachusetts^
3
1 2 .333 1998 1978, 2006
Boise State^
2
1 1 .500 1980 1994
Eastern Washington
2
1 1 .500 2010* 2018*
Montana State
2
1 1 .500 1984 2021*
McNeese
2
0 2 .000 1997, 2002
Florida A&M
1
1 0 1.000 1978
Idaho State
1
1 0 1.000 1981
Louisiana–Monroe^
1
1 0 1.000 1987
Richmond
1
1 0 1.000 2008
Southern Illinois
1
1 0 1.000 1983
Villanova
1
1 0 1.000 2009
Western Kentucky^
1
1 0 1.000 2002
Arkansas State^
1
0 1 .000 1986
Colgate
1
0 1 .000 2003
Illinois State
1
0 1 .000 2014*
Jacksonville State^
1
0 1 .000 2015*
Lehigh
1
0 1 .000 1979
Louisiana Tech^
1
0 1 .000 1984
Nevada^
1
0 1 .000 1990
Northern Iowa
1
0 1 .000 2005
Stephen F. Austin
1
0 1 .000 1989
Towson
1
0 1 .000 2013*
Western Carolina
1
0 1 .000 1983
* 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).

Conference Record Appearances by season
Games W L Win pct. Won Lost
MVFC 19 13 6 .684 1997, 2002, 2011*, 2012*, 2013*, 2014*, 2015*, 2017*, 2018*, 2019*, 2021*, 2022*, 2023* 1999, 2005, 2014*, 2016*, 2020*, 2022*
SoCon 16 8 8 .500 1988, 1992, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007 1983, 1985, 1987, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2001
Big Sky 16 6 10 .375 1980, 1981, 1984, 1995, 2001, 2010* 1990, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2018*, 2021*, 2023*
Independent 11 7 4 .636 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994 1979, 1982, 1988, 1992
Southland 9 2 7 .222 1987, 2020* 1984, 1986, 1989, 1997, 2002, 2011*, 2012*
CAA Football 8 3 5 .375 2008, 2009, 2016* 2007, 2010*, 2013*, 2017*, 2019*
OVC 5 2 3 .400 1979, 1982 1980, 1981, 2015*
A-10 4 3 1 .750 1998, 2003, 2004 2006
MVC 1 1 0 1.000 1983  
SIAC 1 1 0 1.000 1978  
Patriot League 1 0 1 .000   2003
Yankee 1 0 1 .000   1978

Game records

This table lists records for the Championship Game.

  Record Team Opponent Game
Most points scored (one team) 59 Georgia Southern Youngstown State 1999
Most points scored (losing team) 43 Georgia Southern UMass 1998
Most points scored (both teams) 98 UMass (55) Georgia Southern (43)
Fewest points allowed 0 Delaware Colgate 2003
Largest margin of victory 40 Delaware (40) Colgate (0)
Attendance 32,106 Montana 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.

Date Network 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, 2021 ABC Dave Pasch Andre Ware Kris Budden
January 11, 2020 Mark Jones Dusty Dvoracek Olivia Dekker
January 5, 2019 ESPN2 Taylor 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, 2013 Dave Neal Jay Walker
January 7, 2012 David Diaz-Infante Allison Williams
January 7, 2011 Andre Ware Jon 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, 2006 Dave Pasch Rod Gilmore and Trevor Matich Dave Ryan
December 16, 2005 Stacey Dales-Schuman
December 17, 2004 Rob Stone
December 19, 2003 Sean McDonough Mike Golic and Rod Gilmore Rob 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, 1991 Brad Nessler Dan Jiggetts
December 15, 1990 Jim Nantz Tim Brant John Dockery
December 16, 1989 ESPN Barry Tompkins Stan White
December 17, 1988 Tim Brando
December 19, 1987 Denny Schreiner
December 19, 1986 Tim Brando Kevin Kiley
December 21, 1985 Mike Patrick Sam Adkins
December 15, 1984 Satellite Program Network Bill Flemming Steve Davis
December 17, 1983 ABC Keith Jackson Frank Broyles
December 18, 1982 CBS Lindsey Nelson Steve Davis
December 19, 1981 ABC Bill Flemming Frank Broyles
December 20, 1980
December 15, 1979
December 16, 1978

See also

References

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  2. ^ "Recommends expansion for I-AA playoffs". The Des Moines Register. AP. April 10, 1982. p. 8. Retrieved January 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  3. ^ Sutton, Stan (November 29, 1981). "Delaware will be Eastern's playoff foe". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. p. C9. Retrieved February 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Blue Hens Get Berth; Earn Opening Bye". The Daily Times. Salisbury, Maryland. AP. November 22, 1982. p. 10. Retrieved February 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  5. ^ Sutton, Stan (September 9, 1982). "Will I-AA numbers hamper Eastern's playoff bid?". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. p. 11. Retrieved January 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "SWAC loses automatic bid". The Times. Shreveport, Louisiana. October 28, 1983. p. 6. Retrieved January 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "I-AA playoffs". Daily Press. Newport News, Virginia. November 24, 1986. p. C5. Retrieved February 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  8. ^ Kasper, Jon (November 12, 2001). "NCAA changes format for playoff pairings". Missoulian. Missoula, Montana. p. D1. Retrieved February 2, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  9. ^ Kasper, Jon (November 12, 2001). "NCAA changes format for playoff pairings (cont'd)". Missoulian. Missoula, Montana. p. D6. Retrieved February 2, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  10. ^ Graham, Tony (April 26, 2008). "NEC granted access to playoffs". Asbury Park Press. Asbury Park, New Jersey. p. 28. Retrieved January 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  11. ^ Moorman, Chris (August 4, 2013). "Flyers set sights on playoff prize". Dayton Daily News. Dayton, Ohio. p. 37. Retrieved January 6, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  12. ^ "FCS Championship: Everything you need to know | NCAA.com". www.ncaa.com.
  13. ^ Kelley, Kevin (September 22, 2020). "FCS Playoff Schedule format for Spring 2021 football season set". fbschedules.com. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  14. ^ a b Herder, Sam (August 9, 2021). "Predicting The 2021 FCS Playoff Bracket". herosports.com. Retrieved September 5, 2021.
  15. ^ a b Barnett, Zach (November 15, 2018). "With one week to go, here's your FCS playoff primer". footballscoop.com. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  16. ^ "I-AA championship moved to Tacoma". Billings Gazette. Billings, Montana. AP. January 5, 1985. p. 2-C. Retrieved May 1, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  17. ^ Caplan, Jeff (February 26, 2010). "20 teams to compete for FCS crown". ESPN. Retrieved February 26, 2010.
  18. ^ "NCAA inks three-year extension to keep FCS title game in Frisco, Texas" (Press release). NCAA. December 19, 2012. Archived from the original on February 20, 2013. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  19. ^ "NCAA keeping FCS title game in Frisco through at least 2020". USA Today. Associated Press. January 8, 2016. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  20. ^ "FCS Championship Will Stay in Frisco Through 2025 With Option for 2026" (Press release). Southland Conference. January 4, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  21. ^ Torre, Pablo (November 29, 2007). "No playoffs for you!". CNN/Sports Illustrated. Retrieved June 27, 2009.
  22. ^ David Burrick (September 18, 2003). ""Ivy League not likely to see I-AA playoffs"". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved June 27, 2009.
  23. ^ Craig T. Greenlee (January 6, 2000). "Not Exactly for THE SPORT OF IT". Black Issues in Higher Education. Archived from the original on September 16, 2004. Retrieved June 27, 2009 – via Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ Rashad, Kenn (December 30, 2014). "Morgan State AD Confirms MEAC/SWAC Bowl Game Will Be Played In 2015". hbcusports.com. Retrieved December 3, 2021.
  25. ^ "FCS Football Championship History". NCAA.com. January 2019. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  26. ^ "Outstanding players of FCS championship game". ESPN. AP. January 5, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  27. ^ "JMU wins FCS title, beats Youngstown St". The Rock Island Argus. East Moline, Illinois. Associated Press. January 8, 2017. p. 16. Retrieved October 26, 2020 – via newspapers.com.
  28. ^ @FCS_STATS (January 8, 2023). "Most Outstanding Player of #FCSChampionship South Dakota State QB Mark Gronowski: 280 total yards, 4 total TDs" (Tweet). Retrieved January 8, 2023 – via Twitter.
  29. ^ @DomIzzoWDAY (January 7, 2024). "#NDSU AD Matt Larsen presents Mark Gronowski with his FCS Most Outstanding Performance trophy" (Tweet). Retrieved January 7, 2024 – via Twitter.
  30. ^ "Broadcast Info". NCAA.com. 2019. Retrieved November 17, 2019.