The history of the NCAA football championship began in 1869 with Princeton winning the first championship. The winners of the championship were selected by members of the Associated Press and other ranking outlets until 1998 when the Bowl Championship Series selected the two teams to compete in a national championship game. In 2014, a college football playoff system featuring four teams replaced the Bowl Championship Series, with Ohio State University winning the title.
In 1936, following years of mathematical systems selecting the national champion, the Associated Press began polling sportwriters to determine the national champion. In 1950, the Associated Press joined forces with the United Press, which polled coaches, to further streamline the process. In 1965, the Associated Press began to poll its sportwriters after all the bowl games had been played, rather than after the regular season concluded, in an effort to chose a more deserving national champion. The United Press Coaches poll joined the Associated Press in 1974 in polling coaches following the conclusion of all bowl games.
The Bowl Championship Series picked its two teams based on the average of the results of various polls and former players and coaches as well as six computer ranking systems. However, this championship series did not reflect the polling of the Associated Press in all instances, and in 2003, the Associated Press voted the University of Southern California as the national champion despite the fact the school did not compete in the Bowl Championship Series game.