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:


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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SEC Has Abused "Over-Recruiting" 
Everyone by now knows the SEC has been guilty of over recruiting for the last ten years. No other conference has abused that technique like the SEC. It …

Nebraska Championships Will Move Big Ten Up List Of Top NC Conferences 
Assuming you update this after the National Championship game (using the same logic) Nebraska's championships will have a big impact on the tally once …

Oklahoma Football is #1 
I've got only one thing to say to everyone that has commented here and have their opinions about anyone one team or any one conference. The thing is …

The SEC and this site is a joke 
You only counted the AP titles until 1997 so you must think very highly of it so maybe you should count USC's AP title in 03. Oh but that would not factor …

Huh? USC Alone Has 11 National Titles  
How does the PAC 10 have ONLY 4 Titles? If this list does actually include only the National Champions from 1936 and on, USC should AT LEAST be credited …

Out of conference games 
Do you ever expect in your lifetime to see a major SEC program (LSU, Florida, Alabama) travel north to play an out-of-conference game against a Penn St., …

LSU National Championships  
LSU can claim National Championships in 1908,1933,35, and 36 according to the various polls which were extant for those times cited. They, also, according …

Best Football Conference is Largely a Numbers Game 
Based on what i read here, it is all in how you fix the numbers. Ex. since 1990 SEC has 6 NC. BigXII has 3. But if you are not looking through SEC glasses …

AP Poll Biased Against Pac-10 
This is a comendable attempt. However, I believe your list is faulty because you use only the AP poll and the BCS. I will give you 2 PAC-10 Nat'l titles …

College football National Championships by SEC teams while they were in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama 12 LSU 4 Tennessee 4 Georgia …

Conference Records in BCS Championship Games 
Spreadsheet compares conference performance in BCS Championship Games. Editor's Note: Thanks, great stuff. A bit more evidence of why we say SEC …

How Many NC's Does USC Really Have?  
Everyone knows that USC has more than 4 national championships. Please avoid the false records. Update your so called facts. This just proves to show the …

SEC holds 16-14 Margin in Official National Championships Won, 1936-2006. 
After years of serious StatResearch on national champions, all levels, not just Major College/NCAA 1A/Bowl Subdivision the following revels that the SEC …

BIG 10 RULES!!!! 
THE BIG 10 FOOTBALL HAVE 39 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS LOOK IT UP. ILL-5 (14,19,23,27,51) PENN-4 (11,12,82,86) OHIO-7 (42,54,57,61,68,70,02) MICH ST-6 …

Why do you start in 1936? 
This site is full of **** and so biased. You only take records that make you look good. How is 1936 the bench mark for national champs? Tom Osborne …

Big 12 National Titles Since 1990 
The Big 12 has 6 National Titles since 1990 Colorado 1990 AP Nebraska 1994 & 1995 AP and 1997 UPI Oklahoma 2000 BCS Texas 2005 BCS EDITOR's NOTE: …

auburn fan -- USC won 5 football championships 
I'm an auburn fan but USC was the AP champ in 62 67 and 72, and the BCS champ in 03 and 04...that's five for one pac-10 team alone, not to mention any …

Big Ten Has 15 Titles  
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. …

Most College Football National Championship's by Decade 
1936-39: SWC: TCU, 1938 and Texas A&M, 1939 Independents: Pittsburgh, 1937 1940-49: Big 10: Minnesota, 1940-41; Ohio State, 1942; Michigan, 1948 …

Michigan Dominates SEC  
just read your part on big 10 vs sec where you commented that the big ten's disproportionate advantage in wins the past 5 yrs were due to michigan beating …

yea...but where do the coaches come from? Not rated yet
Hats off to the SEC's run and player talent!!! go to US News and World Report to check out the academic rankings of colleges. Also ....guess where …

SEC History Lesson Not rated yet
SEC BIG XII 2010 (18). 2005 (18) 2009 (17). 2001 (17) …

Why Use 1936?  Not rated yet
They use 1936 because thats when the AP poll started. If you go back to 1900 with seasons that included only one, then Princeton would have about 20 national …

Ibin A. Thinkin Not rated yet
Check this site out you myopic SEC tool! The Ivy League has won more championships than you could even dream about! I can see that and I'm not even an …

Click here to write your own.

NCAA Does Not Award Football National Championship Not rated yet
I hate to break this to you, but none of the conferences you listed above has EVER won an NCAA Championship in football. The conferences you have listed …

Princeton and Ivy League is #1  Not rated yet
Sorry hate to tell you SEC but look it up and depending on which scale you look at Princeton has anywhere from 25-28 national titles. That's one school …

Know it all. Not rated yet
There is no NCAA footbal champ. Only poll winners. In all other sports Baseball, Basketball, vollyball , swimmming , gymnastics etc the PAC has double …

How convenient... Not rated yet
I love how not only are years pre-1936 are omitted as well as other polls. Go ahead and count Bama's 12 NCs. While you're at it, include Michigan's 11, …

College Football National Championship System Too Subjective Not rated yet
I have long heard arguments why each conference is better than the others, but until more head to head play is consistently recorded from year to year …

SEC Not Better Than Pac-10 Not rated yet
How did you get that the Pac-10 has only 4 national football championships? Their official website shows that they have won 9. And there are several …

Which Conference Has the Most NCs? Not rated yet
Where did you make up your stats? The Big Ten has more than twice that amount of NCs.

Stats Off; NCAA Not Recognize FBS National Champ Not rated yet
i would like to know where this information is coming from because these are the real big ten titles since 1936 Ohio State - 7 Minnesota - 4 Michigan …

Independent Not rated yet
Notre Dame 8; Mountain West 2; and Army 2 will complete your total for 73 years.

SEC and Big 12 are Equal  Not rated yet
Nice way to spin it to your liking. You should try politics. Your point about past Nebraska and OU champions made no sense. Alabama used to have champions …

Lies, Damn lies and Statistics Not rated yet
This author is has taken great liberties in a feeble attempt to mislead make the SEC look better than it was. SEC own web page and Wikipedia concur …

this is bogus Not rated yet
The Big XII also has 6 National Championships since 1990. Colorado had one Nebraska had 3 Oklahoma has one Texas has one That's 6 national champions. …

MNC Not rated yet
Earlier you had this statement on your board (The NCAA said that any recognized voting body is acceptable.) If this holds true just the Big 8 hold's …

SEC IS Overrated! Not rated yet
Seriously folks... No playoffs = no real champion anyway!

SEC Football: The Truth Not rated yet
Hmmmm, well that's certainly an interesting way of looking at things, LOL! Besides 'Bama and maybe Tennessee, the SEC wasn't even any good until just a …

USC Not rated yet

Stupid Not rated yet
The AP has not always been the end all be all for NC's so to only include them is pretty biased. To say the PAC-10 only has (4) NC's is ridiculous, especially …

There is no clear-cut best "All-Time" conference Not rated yet
Recently, the SEC has had great success and I give them credit for that, but when properly analyzing all of the facts and figures, there is no conclusive …

College Football Championship Stats: Things Are Clearer Out West Not rated yet
It's amazing how many of these stats are so skewed. To claim SHARED National Titles in an argument for who has the most is ridiculous - USC has far more …

Pac-10 NC Record Not rated yet
how is it possible that pac 10 only has 4 NC's when usc itself has won 8 since 1936?? Editor's Note: Depends on which polls you count. There were …

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By Mo Johnson, Copyright © 2006-2017

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