1998 NCAA Division I-A football season
The 1998 NCAA Division I-A football season, play of college football in the United States organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association at the Division I-A level, began in late summer 1998 and culminated with the major bowl games in early January 1999. It was the first season of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), which saw the Tennessee Volunteers win the national championship, one year after star quarterback Peyton Manning left for the National Football League (NFL). Tennessee defeated the Florida State Seminoles, 23–16, in the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona, to secure the inaugural BCS National Championship.
The BCS combined elements of the old Bowl Coalition and the Bowl Alliance it replaced. The agreement existed between the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange bowl games, with the Cotton Bowl Classic diminishing in status since the breakup of the Southwest Conference. Like the Bowl Alliance, a national championship game would rotate between the four bowls, with the top two teams facing each other. These teams were chosen based upon a BCS poll, combining the AP Poll, the Coaches Poll, and a computer component. The computer factored in things such as strength of schedule, margin of victory, and quality wins without taking into account time (in other words, a loss early in the season and a loss late in the season were on equal footing). Like the Bowl Coalition, the BCS bowls not hosting the national championship game would retain their traditional conference tie-ins.
The first run of the Bowl Championship Series was not without controversy as Kansas State finished third in the final BCS standings, but was not invited to a BCS bowl game. Ohio State (ranked 4th) and two-loss Florida (8th) received the at-large bids instead. Also, Tulane went undefeated, but finished 10th in the BCS standings and was not invited to a BCS bowl because of their low strength of schedule.
The following rule changes were adopted by the NCAA Rules Committee during their 1998 meeting:
Conference and program changesWith no teams upgrading from Division I-AA, the number of Division I-A schools was fixed at 112.
Bowl gamesRankings are from the AP Poll.
Heisman Trophy voting''The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award is given to the
Most Outstanding Player of the year''
Winner: Ricky Williams, Texas, Running Back (2335 points)