The Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs will take the field Monday night to battle for the title of the best college football team in the nation.
The national championship is awarded each season to the top collegiate team in the country. Prior to the playoff era of college football, championship teams were selected by a number of organizations, people and publications.
The Associated Press is the longest-standing selector of the champion, having awarded the title annually since 1936, when Texas A&M took the title.
President Richard Nixon in 1969 made the unprecedented move of announcing that he would award the winner of the championship game the trophy after No. 1 Texas and No. 2 Arkansas duked it out on the field. Texas ultimately walked away with the trophy that year, according to NCAA records.
The Bowl Championship Series, or BCS, was established in 1998. The BCS combined the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, the Harris Interactive Poll and the average of six separate computer rankings to name the top two teams in the nation.
The BCS rankings proved controversial, particularly in 2003, when No. 3 Oklahoma was chosen over the top-ranked team, USC, to play in the title game, NCAA officials said. That season ended with split national champions: the LSU Tigers, who won the BCS title, and the USC Trojans, who were named the champions by the Associated Press.
The final BCS championship game was played in 2013, replaced the following year by the College Football Playoffs, in which a four-team tournament was established to determine the national champion.
The Bulldogs earned their spot in the title game by defeating the Oklahoma Sooners 54 to 48 in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. Their win came after the game went into double overtime.
The Crimson Tide, who last won the title in 2015, earned their spot in the big game with a 24 to 6 win over the Clemson Tigers, who were the national champs in 2016.