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2021 NCAA Division I FBS football rankings

Two human polls and a committee's selections comprise the 2021 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) football rankings, in addition to various publications' preseason polls. Unlike most sports, college football's governing body, the NCAA, does not bestow a national championship at the FBS level. Instead, that title is bestowed by one or more different polling agencies. There are two main weekly polls that begin in the preseason—the AP Poll and the Coaches' Poll. One additional poll, the College Football Playoff (CFP) ranking, is usually released starting midway through the season. The CFP rankings determine who makes the four-team playoff that determines the College Football Playoff National Champion.

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College football national championships in NCAA Division I FBS

A national championship in the highest level of college football in the United States, currently the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), is a designation awarded annually by various organizations to their selection of the best college football team. Division I FBS football is the only National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sport for which the NCAA does not sanction a yearly championship event. As such, it is sometimes unofficially referred to as a "mythical national championship".Due to the lack of an official NCAA title, determining the nation's top college football team has often engendered controversy. A championship team is independently declared by multiple individuals and organizations, often referred to as "selectors".: 112–114  These choices are not always unanimous. In 1969 even the President of the United States Richard Nixon declared a national champion by announcing, ahead of the season-ending game between No. 1 Texas and No. 2 Arkansas, that the winner of that game would receive a plaque from the President himself, commemorating that team as the year's national champion. Texas went on to win that game, 15–14.While the NCAA has never officially endorsed a championship team, it has documented the choices of some selectors in its official NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records publication.: 114–121  In addition, various analysts have independently published their own choices for each season. These opinions can often diverge with others as well as individual schools' claims to national titles, which may or may not correlate to the selections published elsewhere. Currently, two of the most widely recognized national champion selectors are the Associated Press, which conducts a poll of sportswriters, and the Coaches Poll, a survey of active members of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).

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NCAA Division I

NCAA Division I (D-I) is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States, which accepts players globally. D-I schools include the major collegiate athletic powers, with larger budgets, more elaborate facilities and more athletic scholarships than Divisions II and III as well as many smaller schools committed to the highest level of intercollegiate competition. This level was once called the University Division of the NCAA, in contrast to the lower-level College Division; these terms were replaced with numeric divisions in 1973. The University Division was renamed Division I, while the College Division was split in two; the College Division members that offered scholarships or wanted to compete against those who did became Division II, while those who did not want to offer scholarships became Division III.For college football only, D-I schools are further divided into the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), and those institutions that do not have any football program. FBS teams have higher game attendance requirements and more players receiving athletic scholarships than FCS teams. The FBS is named for its series of postseason bowl games, with various polls ranking teams after the conclusion of these games, while the FCS national champion is determined by a multi-team bracket tournament. For the 2020–21 school year, Division I contained 357 of the NCAA's 1,066 member institutions, with 130 in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), 127 in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), and 100 non-football schools, with six additional schools in the transition from Division II to Division I. There was a moratorium on any additional movement up to D-I until 2012, after which any school that wants to move to D-I must be accepted for membership by a conference and show the NCAA it has the financial ability to support a D-I program.

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NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision

The NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), formerly known as Division I-A, is the top level of college football in the United States. The FBS is the most competitive subdivision of NCAA Division I, which itself consists of the largest and most competitive schools in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). As of 2020, there are 10 conferences and 130 schools in FBS. College football is one of the most popular spectator sports throughout much of the United States, and the top schools generate tens of millions of dollars in yearly revenue. Top FBS teams draw tens of thousands of fans to games, and the ten largest American stadiums by capacity all host FBS teams or games. Starting July 1, 2021, college athletes are now able to get paid for the use of their image and likeness. Prior to this date colleges were only allowed to provide players with non-monetary compensation such as athletic scholarships that provide for tuition, housing, and books. Unlike other NCAA divisions and subdivisions, the NCAA does not officially award an FBS football national championship, nor does it sanction a playoff tournament to determine such a champion on the field. Instead, organizations such as the Associated Press and AFCA have historically sought to rank the teams and crown a national champion, by taking a vote of sports writers and coaches, respectively. In place of such a playoff, various cities across the United States hold their own post-season contests, called bowl games, in which they traditionally invite teams to participate in them. Historically, these bowl games were mostly considered to be exhibition games involving a payout to participating teams.

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NCAA Football (video game series)

NCAA Football is an American football video game series developed by EA Sports in which players control and compete against current Division I FBS college teams. It served as a college football counterpart to the Madden NFL series. The series began in 1993 with the release of Bill Walsh College Football. EA eventually acquired the licensing rights to the NCAA name and officially rechristened the series with the release of NCAA Football 98. In July 2013, the NCAA announced that it would not renew its licensing contract with Electronic Arts because of an ongoing legal dispute regarding the use of player likenesses in the games. However, this contract only covered the use of the NCAA name and related logos, not those of individual schools and conferences, which are negotiated individually or through the Collegiate Licensing Company. The CLC concurrently announced that it would extend its existing licensing deal with EA through 2017, ensuring that EA Sports could continue the series without the NCAA branding and EA made plans to continue the series under the old College Football name. However, the series was placed on hiatus in September 2013, following three major conferences pulling their trademark licenses from EA, and uncertainties surrounding the results of lawsuits involving the use of player likenesses in-game.On February 2, 2021, Electronic Arts announced that the series would be returning for next-gen platforms no earlier than summer 2022.

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National Collegiate Athletic Association

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization that regulates student athletes from up to 1,268 North American institutions and conferences. It also organizes the athletic programs of colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and helps over 480,000 college student-athletes who compete annually in college sports. The organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. In August 1973, the current three-division system of Division I, Division II, and Division III was adopted by the NCAA membership in a special convention. Under NCAA rules, Division I and Division II schools can offer scholarships to athletes for playing a sport. Division III schools may not offer any athletic scholarships. Generally, larger schools compete in Division I and smaller schools in II and III. Division I football was further divided into I-A and I-AA in 1978. In 2006, Divisions I-A and I-AA were respectively renamed the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). In its 2016–17 fiscal year, the NCAA took in $1.06 billion in revenue, over 82% of which was generated by the Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. Controversially, the NCAA formerly capped the benefits that collegiate athletes could receive from their schools.

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