Recent discussions of the alleged College Football Playoff Committee "snub" of the University of Central Florida Golden Knights have almost unfailingly brought up BYU's 1984 national championship. In an effort to provide some context as to why this is a specious argument, this post is presented to clarify exactly what happened in 1984. BYU's national title was the culmination of a perfect storm of competing forces brought into collision at the same time. It literally has no relevance to the current discussion of UCF. As difficult as it may seem to believe now, there was once a time in college football when there was relatively little controversy over which team was the national champion. Indeed, many of the first national champions won the only game played between schools or were retroactively awarded titles long after many players on the teams had passed away. The first recognized selector of national champions was the Dickinson System, created by a University of Illinois economics professor at the instigation of the Big Nine (at the time). Frank Dickinson's system was to determine the ranking of the teams within the conference. A Chicago clothing manufacturer created a trophy and encouraged Dickinson to determine not only the Big Nine rankings but a 'national champion.' Dickinson's first two championships were retroactively awarded to Notre Dame (1924) and Dartmouth (1925). Dickinson's system was in use from 1926 to 1940, and he is credited by the NCAA Football Records Book as being the author of the first system recognized as a "national selector" of champions. Any list of champions is going to show retroactive titles awarded, and there was simply no controversy at the time. There was no television, travel was severely limited, and quite frankly most fans in any particular region of the country who had heard of almost any other team owed that knowledge to either the print media or the radio. Quite simply, there was no controversy of "we're champions, they're not." In 1936, the Associated Press delivered it's first polls. By 1940, the AP was THE recognized selector of national champions. In 1950, United Press - notably a competitor to the AP - began issuing their own national championship declarations. In most cases early on, the AP and UP selected the same champions despite being rivals with one another. In fact, in the first fifteen years of selections by the two groups, they only disagreed twice: 1) 1954, when the AP selected Ohio St and the UP selected UCLA; and 2) 1957, when the AP chose Auburn but the UP selected Ohio St. This last selection is defensible because the UP had a very explicit rule against selecting teams on probation for the national championship. In 1958, the UP added the International News Service and changed their name to the UPI. This selector would later be renamed the Coaches Poll. Despite two selectors, there was limited controversy. Both selectors chose their national champions at the conclusion of the regular season. There were justifiable reasons for this stance. In 1957, just to pick a year at random, there were only seven bowl games. These games tended to be regional affairs with big money teams brought in to boost the local economy. Indeed, television was just coming of age and most games were not shown on the tube. Furthermore, the Big Ten conference had a very explicit "no repeat" rule that forbid schools from playing in the Rose Bowl (the only game their conference permitted teams to play in). It's not difficult to see how including a bowl game could persuade some voters to override a previous on-the-field result. National champions were determined by end of the regular season vote, and the bowl games were merely exhibitions. Indeed, it was baseball at the time that was the national sport. The rise in national interest in football came during the infamous 1958 Giants-Colts overtime NFL championship game. The first genuine controversy came in 1964. When Notre Dame lost to USC, 20-17, the final AP vote showed Alabama as the national champions, the same result as the UPI gave. The Tide then went to play the game that launched the TV era, a prime time night game against Texas. In a controversial ending - did he score or did he not? - Texas prevailed, 21-17. Forty million people - 13 more million than voted for Barry Goldwater in the previous month's election - tuned in to watch the thriller. This game, in fact, would be the catalyst for ABC to begin "Monday Night Football" in 1970 after the NFL-AFL merger. But that wasn't the controversy. The media created a controversy with a telling narrative thus stated: a) Alabama lost to Texas b) Arkansas was undefeated and BEAT Texas, therefore... c) Arkansas was robbed of the national championship It is likely that politics played at least some role in the controversy. Alabama was in the national news nightly and not exactly in a positive light. Indeed, had Arkansas not had as problematic a past as Alabama did, who knows how this would have turned out. The FWA, consisting of many of the same voters as the AP poll, selected unbeaten Arkansas as national champion after the bowl games were complete. In fact, the state of Arkansas shut down the entire state for a holiday on February 5, 1965, honoring the FWA national champions. So the AP made the same mistake that the BCS would later make: they decided to experiment in 1965 with taking their poll after the bowl games. Thanks to this one-year experiment, Alabama won yet another controversial national championship, only because of the carping of a few. In 1966, the AP reverted to form for two seasons and then in 1968, the AP opted to include bowl games in their final poll. Although it must certainly be a convenient coincidence, Notre Dame almost immediately surrendered their "no bowl games" policy while the Big Ten removed the "no repeat" rule. As a result of another controversy involving Alabama in 1973 - when the UPI awarded the Tide their title only to see Alabama lose a thrilling Sugar Bowl to Notre Dame - the UPI followed the AP's lead, starting with the 1974 national title. Of course, there was an immediate controversy when Oklahoma won the 1974 AP title despite being on probation. UPI selected USC instead, and the next decade saw controversial national championships crowned four times in the next nine years. One of the most egregious, in fact, occurred in 1983, when #5 Miami edged #1 Nebraska, 31-30, in a classic Orange Bowl and pole vaulted over #3 Auburn to win the championship. A huge part of the controversy stemmed from the fact that not only was Auburn's schedule tougher (.688 vs .514, and most of that created by one team, Nebraska), they had beaten the team that beat Miami rather handily. The AP vote saw Miami get 47.5 first place votes to 7 for Auburn, who finished third. In a truly bizarre vote, Nebraska still managed to get 4.5 first-place votes to finish second despite losing the game. It was this fourth controversy in nine years that set the stage for what occurred in 1984. HOW WE GOT TO THAT POINT The pre-season 1984 poll looked thusly: 1) Auburn 2) Nebraska 3) Pitt 4) Clemson 5) UCLA 6) Texas 7) Ohio St 8) Notre Dame 9) Alabama 10) Miami This poll is rather bizarre when you remember that Auburn was losing its quarterback while Miami was keeping theirs. ELEVEN teams ranked in the top 20 received first-place votes, including three - Iowa, Arizona St, and Michigan - who were ranked 12-14. Alabama even had one first-place vote, which was as many as the defending champion Hurricanes. And in the opener, the entire controversy of 1983 was laid to rest as far as the press was concerned. Matching up the twin claimants of 1983, Miami and Auburn met in the second annual version of the Kickoff Classic in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Miami prevailed, 20-18, and immediately shot up the polls to the number one spot, pole vaulting everyone. The other strange game during the opening week was BYU shocking #3 Pitt, 20-14. Nobody paid much attention at the time, but the result would later play a role in the discussion of just how good this BYU team really was.