Top All-Time NCAA College Football National Championship Conference

Which is the top all-time NCAA college football national championship conference?

Listed below and to the right is the order of conferences with the number of college football national championships in parentheses.

  • SEC -- (20)
  • Big 12 -- (16)
  • Big Ten -- (13)
  • ACC -- (9)
  • Pac-10 -- (4)
  • Big East -- (3)

With Alabama's 2011 and 2012 BCS National Championships and Auburn's 2010 National Championship the SEC now has seven straight College Football National Championships. No other conference has had more than three staight National Championships so we are in an unprecedented era of NC domination by a conference, namely the Southeastern Conference. Here's our 2012 - 2013 SEC Bowl Season Recap.

The SEC has now won 7 straight BCS Championships; 8 of the past 9; 9 since it began in 1998. That's more BCS Championships than all the other conferences combined!!

Maybe most significantly, the seven SEC BCS Championships were won by five different teams (Tennessee, Florida, LSU, Alabama and Auburn). In the BCS era, no other conference comes close to that depth.

You can read about the SEC's four prior NC's (in this current streak) at 2006 - Florida; 2007 - LSU; 2008 - Florida; and 2009 - Alabama.

But, here's some caveats:

The above list only includes college football championships from 1936 to present. Importantly, it only includes one champion each year (official NCAA selector). As you know, college football does not have a playoff system as most other college sports do. So, traditionally, champions were crowned by various coaches and sports writers polls. More often then not, various polls named more than one team as the champion. You can read more about this process at a look at how national champions are named.

For the purposes of this page, our list of football national championships by conference only counted the College Football National Champion as named by the Associated Press (AP) (1936 - 1997); and from 1998 on the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Champ.

So, for instance, the list above only includes 6 Alabama football national championships. Of course, as discussed at Best All-Time NCAA College Football Program, depending on which polls you count, Alabama could be credited with up to 12 college football national championships.

One more caveat -- we included National Championships won by schools that are now part of a particular conference. So it based on current affiliation, not historical affiliation. This favors the Big Ten because we are counting (for them) 2 NC's by Penn State ('82 & '86) that of course Penn State won before they joined the Big Ten.

To view and download the ultimate quick reference for statistics about NCAA College Football National Championship Teams click on Tex Noel's Amazing National Championship Team Stats: 1936 - 2008 (prepared by Tex Noel of 1st-N-Goal). It has a listing of every college football team that ever won a National Championship from 1936 on -- and includes almost every stat you might want - and much, much more. If you have trouble viewing it, go to Tex' Ultimate Spreadsheet.

You also will want to see the list of List of "Official" National Champions and "Actual" National Champions.

And, Tex created more statistical info about NCAA College Football National Championship teams since 1992, organized by conference at National Champsionship Teams By Conference.

Not enough football stats? OK, Tex also gave us another pdf that ranks college football championship teams in order of most championships and also by decade. You can download that at National Championships by Team Totals and Decade. [Tex says the Actual NC are named by reputable selectors and in the season which the title was won; while official is based on the selections of AP, UP/UPI, FWAA, NFFHF, USA Today/CNN and USA Today/ESPN.]

Finally, here's some more of Tex' stats specific to college football teams that have played in a BCS Championship game (so NC game since 1998) -- BCS National Championship Teams Stat Rank.

You can read more of Tex' stats at SEC Football Statistics and even contact him via a form on that page.

So, picking the Best or Top All-Time NCAA College Football Championship Conference is really more of an art than a science. It is quite subjective. See SEC vs Big Ten Debate for more about the subjectivity of this debate.

Also, the list above shows the Big 12 with most all-time football championships. This is largely due to the great teams Oklahoma and Nebraska had over the years. Of course, most of those championships came before the Big 12 was even formed. Nebraska and Oklahoma were both in the Big 8 Conference. The Big 12 has only been in existence for 12 years.

The Southeastern (SEC), by contrast, began in 1932, so each of its 14 championships was earned by a team that was in the SEC at the time, and still is.

Also, if you look at more recent college football history - the SEC leads the pack. Since 1990, the SEC has more NCAA football championships than any other conference with six.

Here's an interesting SEC vs Big 12 National Championship Game Comparison spreadsheet.

Since the BCS system began in 1998, the SEC leads with 5 BCS Championships. And, they've won it each of the past 3 years and 4 of the past 6 years. You can read more about most of those games at Biggest All-Time SEC Football Victory.

The ACC and Big 12 both have 2 BCS Championships. The Pac-10 and Big Ten both have 1.

OK, all of those caveats add up to one thing:

THE SEC IS REALLY THE TOP ALL-TIME NCAA COLLEGE FOOTBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP CONFERENCE.

If you want to check out the stats by decade, check out the page submitted by a visitor at Most College Football National Championships By Decade.

To read about why we need to ditch the bowl system and go to a playoff system, check out College Football Playoff.


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To read more about the comparison of the football conferences, check out:

Check out this PDF about College Football Rivalries and National Championships.

Read our 2012 SEC Football Preview and NCAA College Football 2012 Preview.


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What Other Visitors Have Said

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By Mo Johnson, Copyright © 2006-2014 SECSportsFan.com

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