By Paul Markgraff, Managing Editor, This Is AFCA Magazine and AFCA Weekly
At the end of the first BCS championship game in 1998, Tennessee head coach Phil Fulmer had a choice to make as he and his victorious Volunteers mounted the post-game platform. There before him sat the BCS national championship trophy and the crystal ball presented to the national champion by the American Football Coaches Association.
As his team was proclaimed national champion, Fuller made history. He moved quickly to the crystal ball, snatched it up off its pedestal, hoisted it high in the air for all to see and gave it a gentle kiss before passing it to his players.
A tradition was born.
“The crystal ball cam about because the American Football Coaches Association wanted to make a significant trophy based on the selection in our coaches poll of the national champion. It’s the trophy for the national champion,” says Grant Teaff, executive director of the AFCA. “You show that crystal ball to anyone and they will tell you that it is the national championship trophy. It’s the Symbol of Supremacy in College Football.TM”
Last year, after the Ohio State Buckeyes won the national championship, the AFCA presented the crystal ball to head coach Urban Meyer and his team in front of more than 62,000 screaming fans. As is tradition, Meyer raised the trophy aloft, kissed it and passed it to his team.
“The trophy is extremely significant to all of our coaches, and even though it is not given at the national championship game, it is so significant to the coaches and their programs that more than 62,000 people will show up to see it presented,” says Teaff. “The fact that it is not presented at the game has no effect on the fact that – over the years – it has become the Symbol of Supremacy in College Football.TM The presenting sponsor, Amway, has been wonderful to work with. It’s part of the tradition of college football at the FBS level.”
On Monday, January 11, 2016, the Clemson Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide will square off in what promises to be an outstanding battle between both top-rate offenses and world-class defenses. After the confetti sprays across the sky landing upon a Gatorade-soaked coach and his student-athletes, the teams will return home and in the very near future, the tradition behind the crystal ball will continue as it makes its way from coach to team, the ever-present Symbol of Supremacy in College Football.TM