Nothing defines the competitve success of a college athletics program like a national championship. There's no higher pinnacle and no greater stage on which teams and individuals are called upon to prove their excellence.
Oklahoma's ability to flourish in that setting has elevated the Sooner program to the lofty position it enjoys today. With its most recent triumph coming in 2000, OU is one of only two schools to capture seven national football titles.
That staggering fact is more than capable of standing on its own. But Oklahoma has taken its national dominance to a higher level by winning those championships over four different decades. Since 1950, the Sooners have been a regular player in the race for national supremacy.
Few football programs can set out each fall with the pursuit of the national crown realistically listed among its season goals. Oklahoma, riding a history that makes such a pursuit more than talk and more than dreams, is one of those programs.
When it comes to national championships, the Sooners have "been there, done that" ... seven times.
The AP & Coaches Polls
Two polls have dominated the college football landscape. In 1936, the Associated Press introduced its poll, representing the opinion of media around the country. In 1950, a poll of selected Division I coaches also was introduced. The second of those has appeared under various headings, including the one it is known by today, the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.
Between those two polls, the most recognized and the longest standing, Oklahoma has achieved 13 national championships (finished No. 1 in both polls in some years). No other school in America has combined for as many national crowns under that same formula.
The Sooners have been AP's national champion seven times and have prevailed in the coaches' poll another six. Oklahoma's most recent national championship, won in the 2000 season, came under the BCS format. Prior to the introduction of the BCS, the polls were the mode used to select college football's best team.
Regardless of the method, OU has been a regular player on the national title scene.
16 National Championships?
The NCAA does not conduct a national championship in Division I-A football and is not involved in the selection process.
Since 1998, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) operated jointly by the ACC, Southeastern, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten and Pacific-10 Conferences has used a ranking system to determine the number one and number two teams at the end of the season.
Various organizations have named National Champions in college football since 1869. Utilizing the selectors as recognized by the NCAA, Oklahoma has been recognized for 16 different seasons: 2003, 2000, 1986, 1985, 1980, 1978, 1975, 1974, 1973, 1967, 1956, 1955, 1953, 1950 and 1949.