College football was the venue through which American football first gained popularity in the United States. College football remains extremely popular today among students, alumni, and other fans of the game.
The first game played between teams representing different colleges or universities was played on November 6, 1869 between Rutgers University and Princeton University, at College Field, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Rutgers won, by a score of 6 to 4. As the score would indicate, the game bore little resemblance to the game of today.
The development of the modern game can be traced to a meeting between the Harvard University and McGill University football teams in 1874. The two teams were used to playing different brands of football--the McGill team played a rugby-style game, while Harvard played a soccer-style game. The teams agreed to play under compromise rules, and from this meeting the game of football began to evolve in both the United States and Canada.
The game increased in popularity through the remainder of the 19th century. It also became increasingly violent. President Theodore Roosevelt threatened, in 1906, to ban the sport following a series of player deaths from injuries suffered during games. The response to this was the formation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which set rules governing the sport. One of the rules changes to emerge from this attempt at alleviating the violence of the sport was the introduction of the forward pass. Another was the banning of "mass momentum" plays (many of which, like the infamous "flying wedge", were literally deadly).
Prior to the founding of the National Football League, and for a few decades thereafter, college football was the predominant venue for American football. Innovations in strategy and style of play originated in college football and spread to the pro game gradually. It was not until the post-WWII era that the pro game achieved ascendancy in the eyes of the American sports fan.
NCAA Divisions and Conferences
Conferences that formerly sponsored football
College Football Bowl Games for 2003-2004
Bowls No Longer Played
College Football Awards