Irish National Championships

The national championship team in college football generally is considered to be the top-rated squad in the final rankings issued each year by the poll of sportswriters and broadcasters (Associated Press) and the poll of coaches (United Press International through 1990, USA Today/CNN since 1991).

Since the AP began certifying the winner of its national crown in 1936, Notre Dame has won more national championships than any other team in the country. The Irish have won eight titles (1943-46-47-49-66-73-77-88) -- with Oklahoma second on the list with six.

The coaches' poll has voted a national champion since 1950. Notre Dame has won three UPI titles (1966-77-88) during that period. Only USC and Oklahoma with five each have won more. The UPI poll was taken following the end of the regular season each year until the 1974 season when the coaches first waited until the bowl games were conducted to issue their final rankings.

The NCAA also recognizes national championships awarded by the Football Writers Association of America and by the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame.

The FWAA has presented the Grantland Rice Award since 1954, with Notre Dame earning the trophy in 1966, '73, '77 and '88. The National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame has presented the MacArthur Bowl to its national champion since 1959. Notre Dame has won it on five occasions -- 1964, '66 (tie with Michigan State), '73, '77 and '88.

A variety of other rating systems have been recognized over the years in attempting to determine the top team in college football each season.

Notre Dame generally is considered to have earned 11 consensus national titles (1924-29-30-43-46-47-49-66-73-77-88). But there have been 19 seasons in which Notre Dame has qualified as a national champion from at least one legitimate poll, with all teams receiving national championship mention and their individual selectors noted.

Here are Notre Dame's 11 consensus seasons:

Year    Team         Record    Coach        Selector
1924     Notre Dame      10-0       Knute Rockne   DS, Helms,   Boand, FR, Houl, 
                                                   NCF, Poling
         Pennsylvania     9-1-1     Lou Young      Davis
1929     Notre Dame       9-0       Knute Rockne   DS, Dunkel, Boand, Helms, FR,
                                                   NCF, Poling
         Pittsburgh       9-1       J. Sutherland  Davis
         USC             10-2       Howard Jones   Houlgate
1930     Notre Dame      10-0       Knute Rockne   All but FR, tie for Davis
         Alabama         10-0       Wallace Wade   Davis (tie), FR
1943     Notre Dame       9-1       Frank Leahy    Unanimous
1946     Notre Dame       8-0-1     Frank Leahy    AP, Dunkel, LS, Devold, NCF,
                                                   Helms (tie), Boand (tie), Poling (tie)
         Army             9-0-1     Red Blaik      Houlgate, FR, Boand (tie), Helms (tie),
                                                   Poling (tie)
         Georgia         11-0       Wally Butts    WS
1947     Notre Dame       9-0       Frank Leahy    AP, WS, Helms (tie)
         Michigan        10-0       Fritz Crisler  Dunkel, LS, Houlgate, Helms (tie),
                                                   Boand, FR, Devold, NCF, Poling
1949     Notre Dame      10-0       Frank Leahy    All but FR
         Oklahoma        11-0       Bud Wilkinson  FR
1966     Notre Dame       9-0-1     Ara Parseghian AP, UPI, FWAA, Dunkel,LS, 
                                                   Devold, FN, Matthews, 
                                                   NFFHF (tie), Helms (tie) 
         Michigan State   9-0-1     D. Daugherty   FR, Helms (tie), NFFHF (tie)
1973     Notre Dame      11-0       Ara Parseghian AP, FWAA, NFFHF, Helms, FN
         Alabama         10-1       Bear Bryant    UPI
         Oklahoma        10-0-1     Barry Switzer  Dunkel, FR, Devold 
1977     Notre Dame      11-1       Dan Devine     All but FR (tie)
         Alabama         11-1       Bear Bryant    FR (tie)
1988     Notre Dame      12-0       Lou Holtz      Unanimous
Here are the other eight seasons Notre Dame received some mention:
1919     Harvard          9-0-1     Bob Fisher     Unanimous
         Notre Dame       9-0       Knute Rockne   Davis (tie), NCF
         Illinois         6-1       Bob Zuppke     Davis (tie), FR (tie), Boand
1920     California       9-0       Andy Smith     Helms, FR, Houl.,NCF
         Notre Dame       9-0       Knute Rockne   Davis (tie)
         Princeton        6-0-1     Bill Roper     Davis (tie), Boand (tie)
         Harvard          8-0-1     Robert Fisher  Boand (tie)
1927     Illinois         7-0-1     Bob Zuppke     DS, Davis, Helms, NCF
         Yale             7-1       T.A.D. Jones   FR
         Notre Dame       7-1-1     Knute Rockne   Houl.
         Georgia          9-1       G. Woodruff    Boand, Poling
1938     Tennessee       11-0       Bob Neyland    Dunkel, LS, Boand, Houl.,FR, Poling
         TCU             11-0       Dutch Meyer    AP,WS, Helms, NCF
         Notre Dame       8-1       Elmer Layden   DS
1953     Notre Dame       9-0-1     Frank Leahy    All but AP, UP, FRI
         Maryland        10-1       Jim Tatum      AP, UPI
         Oklahoma         9-1-1     Bud Wilkinson  FR
1964     Alabama         10-1       Bear Bryant    AP,UPI, LS
         Arkansas        11-0       Frank Broyles  FWAA, Helms, FR
         Notre Dame       9-1       Ara Parseghian NFFHF, Devold, FN
         Michigan         9-1       Bump Elliott   Dunkel
1967     USC             10-1       John McKay     All but Dunkel, LS
         Notre Dame       8-2       Ara Parseghian Dunkel
         Tennessee        9-2       Doug Dickey    LS
1970     Nebraska        11-0-1     Bob Devaney    AP, FWAA, Dunkel, Helms, FR, Devold, FN
         Texas           10-1       Darrell Royal  UPI, LS, NFFHF (tie)
         Ohio State       9-1       Woody Hayes    NFFHF (tie)
         Notre Dame      10-1       Ara Parseghian Matthews

Rating Systems

AP: Associated Press (1936-current); the first major nationwide poll for ranking college football teams is voted on by sportswriters and broadcasters. It is probably the most well-known and widely circulated among all of history's polls.

Boand: Boand System (1930-1960): known as the Azzi Ratem System developed by William Boand of Tucson, Ariz. He moved to Chicago in 1932. Appeared in many newspapers as well as Illustrated Football Annual (1932-42) and weekly in Football News (1942-44, 1951-60). Predated national champions from 1919-1929.

Davis: Parke H. Davis Ratings (1869-1933); a noted college football historian, Parke H. Davis, went back and named the championship teams from the 1869 through the 1932 season. He also named a national champion at the conclusion of the 1933 season. Interestingly, the years 1869-75 were identified by Davis as the Pioneer Period; the years 1876-93 were called the period of American Intercollegiate Football Association, and the years 1894-1933 were referred to as the Period of Rules Committees and Conferences.

Devold: Devold System (1939-current); a mathematical rating system developed by Harry Devold from Minneapolis, a former football player at Cornell. He eventually settled in the Detroit area and worked in the real estate business. The ratings have appeared in The Football News since 1962. Predated national champions from 1939-44.

DS: Dickinson System (1924-40); a mathematical point system devised by Frank Dickinson, a professor of economics at the University of Illinois. Dickinson divided teams into two categories, those that had a higher than .500 winning percentage and those below. Dickinson mentioned his method in class one day and the Daily Illini sports editor featured a story which came to the attention of Chicago clothing manufacturer Jack Rissman, who decided he would like to use Dickinson's ratings to select the top team in the Big Ten each year so that he could present a trophy to the winner. When Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne heard about this, he invited both the professor and the clothing manufacturer to lunch at South Bend and said, "Why don't you make it a national trophy that Notre Dame will have a chance to win?" Never one to miss out on a good thing, Rockne also persuaded Dickinson and Rissman to predate the whole thing a couple of years so that the 1924 Irish -- the Four Horsemen team -- could be the first official, system-rated national champion.

The annual Dickinson ratings were emblematic of the national championship and the basis for awarding the Rissman Trophy and the Knute K. Rockne Intercollegiate Memorial Trophy. Notre Dame gained permanent possession of the Rissman Trophy after its third victory in 1930. Minnesota retired the Rockne Trophy after winning it for a third time in 1940. Subsequently, the Associated Press annual national champions were awarded the Williams Trophy and the Rev. J. Hugh O'Donnell Trophy. In 1947, Notre Dame retired the Williams Trophy (named after Henry A. Williams, Minnesota coach, and sponsored by the M Club of Minnesota). In 1956, Oklahoma retired the O'Donnell Trophy (named for Notre Dame's president and sponsored by Notre Dame alumni). Beginning with the 1957 season, the award was known as the AP Trophy, and since 1983 the award has been known as the Paul "Bear" Bryant Trophy.

Dunkel: Dunkel System (1929-current); a power index rating system devised by Dick Dunkel, Sr. (1929-71); from 1972 by Dick Dunkel Jr.

FN: Football News (1958-current); weekly poll of its staff writers has named a national champion since 1958.

FR: College Football Researchers Association (1919-current); founded by Anthony Cusher of Reeder, N.D., and Robert Kirlin of Spokane, Wash. Announced its champion in its monthly bulletin and No. 1 team determined by top-10 vote of membership on a point system. Predated national champions from 1919-1981.

FWAA: Football Writers Association of America (1954-current); the No. 1 team of the year is determined by a five-man panel representing the nation's football writers. The national championship team receives the Grantland Rice Award.

Helms: First Interstate Bank Athletic Foundation (1883-1982); originally known by this name from 1936-69 and established by the founding sponsor, Paul J. Helms, a Los Angeles sportsman and philanthropist. After Helms' death in 1957, United Savings and Loan Association became its benefactor during 1970-72. A merger of United Savings and Citizen Savings was completed in 1973, and the Athletic Foundation became known as Citizen Savings Athletic Foundation. In 1982, First Interstate Bank assumed responsibility for its final rankings. In 1941, Bill Schroeder, managing editor of the Helms Athletic Foundation retroactively selected the national football champions for the period beginning in 1883 (the first year of a scoring system) through 1941. Thereafter, Schroeder, who died in 1988, then chose, with the assistance of the Hall board, the annual national champion after the bowl games.

Houl.: Houlgate System (1927-58); a mathematical rating system developed by Dale Houlgate of Los Angeles, Calif. His ratings were syndicated in newspapers and published in Illustrated Football and Football Thesaurus (1946-58).

LS: Litkenhous System (1934-1976); a "difference-by-score" method syndicated by Fred Litkenhous and his brother Edward.

Matthews: Matthews Grid Ratings (1966-present); a mathematical rating system developed by college mathematics professor Herman Matthews of Middlesboro, Ky. Has appeared in newsapapers and The Football News.

NCF: National Championship Foundation (1869-present); established by Mike Riter of Germantown, N.Y. Issues an annual report. Predated national champions from 1869-1979.

NYT: New York Times (1979-current); a mathematical rating system introduced by the newspaper.

NFFHF: National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame (1959-current); the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame named its first national champion in 1959. Headquartered in Larchmont, N.Y., the present National Football Foundation was established in 1954 to promote amateur athletics in America. The national champion was awarded the MacArthur Bowl from 1959-90. In 1991 and 1992, the NFF/HOF joined United Press International to award the MacArthur Bowl, and in 1993 the NFF/HOF joined with USA Today to present the Sears MacArthur Bowl.

Poling: Poling System (1924-84); a mathematical rating system for college football teams developed by Richard Poling from Mansfield, Ohio, a former football player at Ohio Wesleyan. Poling's football ratings were published annually in the Football Review Supplement and in various newspapers. Predated national champions from 1924-34.

SI: Sports Illustrated (1981-present); voted on annually by a committee of writers representing various regions of the country for this nationally circulated magazine.

TSN: The Sporting News (1975-current); chosen by editorial staff.

UPI: United Press International (1950-current); in 1950, the United Press news service began its full poll of football coaches (replaced as coaches' poll after 1990 season). When the United Press merged with the International News Service in 1958, it became known as United Press International. The weekly UPI rankings were featured in newspapers, radio and television nationwide. UPI and the National Football Foundation formed a coalition for 1991 and 1992 to name the MacArthur Bowl national champion.

USA: USA Today/Cable News Network (1982-current); introduced a weekly poll of sportswriters in 1982 and ranked the top 25 teams in the nation with a point system. The poll results are featured in USA Today, a national newspaper, and Cable News Network, a national cable television network. Took over as the coaches' poll in 1991. USA Today also formed a coalition with the National Football Foundation in 1993 to named the MacArthur Bowl national champion.

WS: Williamson System (1932-63); system of syndicated power ratings chosen by Paul Williamson of New Orleans, a geologist and member of the Sugar Bowl committee.

Sources: Robert A. Rosiek, Dearborn Heights, Mich.; The National Championship Foundation, Germantown, N.Y.

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