History of college football’s mythical national championship: A Saturday Blitz podcast

This week’s Saturday Blitz Podcast dives into the history of college football’s national championship, exploring what makes it mythical.

With the 2020 college football season missing a lot of key players that looked to factor into the national championship picture, will this year’s national champion be truly legitimate in the eyes of the public?

In this week’s Saturday Blitz Podcast, we take a historical approach to understanding the national championship and its impact on college football narratives. Walking through the history of the concept of a single national champion, we look at the earliest origins of the idea and assess when the phrase “mythical national championship” first entered the public consciousness.

To engage with this history, the podcast breaks down three key eras that all contributed to the mythos of the national championship. The first comprises the earliest years of college football in the late 19th and early 20th century prior to the formation of polls. Later we look into the middle period of college football history when the AP Top 25 and later the Coaches Poll reigned supreme as championship selectors. The final part of the history engages with the modern period inaugurated by the formation of the Bowl Coalition in 1992.

In examining this history, we break down four key aspects that define the mythological nature of the national championship. Critical to that examination is the concept of exclusion, which we dive into deeper through the lens of Black college football and a long history of segregation between primarily white institutions and historically Black colleges and universities.

To wrap up the discussion, the podcast turns to the present to illuminate how the mythical nature of the 2020 national championship is not an aberration but rather a continuation of a long history of myth-making in the sport.

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The Saturday Blitz Podcast is part of the FanSided Radio Network at Spreaker. The show goes live every Wednesday morning. You can reach John Mitchell at @jlmitchell93 and Zach Bigalke at @zbigalke on Twitter.

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