College football has been crowning a champion since 1869 when Princeton claimed the first of its almost 30 national titles.
Although in 141 years many have tasted from the chalice of ultimate victory, there is an equally impressive list of quality, long-standing programs that have never won the big enchilada, the whole ball of wax...the national championship.
The following slideshow presents the top 25 schools in the history of college football that have never won a national title.
These hungry teams are ranked by all-time win-loss percentage and then by total number of conference titles. This means that the list favors schools that have performed successfully over their storied histories (not just over the last several seasons).
As a very critical disclaimer, (and because the business of national titles is no simple affair) this article utilized the list of “recognized” champions when determining which programs had or had not won a national championship.
“Recognized,” in this case means that only a limited number of sources (recognized by the NCAA for specific time periods) are deemed “certified” to declare a “true” national champion (e.g. the AP, UPI and USA Today are examples of certified sources), which also means more than one team can be the recognized champion from each year.
Using this formula means that some championships (which may be claimed by certain schools) are not considered valid in this specific instance (e.g. Wisconsin’s 1942 title, which is included on some listings but not “recognized,” as it was bestowed by a selector not on the “approved” list).
As a final disclaimer, Boise State is not found on this list because it won the 1980 NCAA DI-AA national title, which means it already technically holds a national crown.