NCAA College football Live: College football is American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities.
It was through college football play that American football rules first gained popularity in the United States.
Unlike most other sports in North America, no minor league farm organizations exist in American or Canadian football. Therefore, college football is generally considered to be the second tier of American football in the United States and Canadian football in Canada; one step ahead of high school competition, and one step below professional competition.
However, in some areas of the country, college football is more popular than professional football, and for much of the early 20th century, college football was seen as more prestigious than professional football.
It is in college football where a player’s performance directly impacts his chances of playing professional football. The best collegiate players will typically declare for the professional draft after three to four years of collegiate competition, with the NFL holding its annual draft every spring in which 256 players are selected annually. Those not selected can still attempt to land an NFL roster spot as an undrafted free agent.
Even after the emergence of the professional National Football League (NFL), college football remained extremely popular throughout the U.S.
Although the college game has a much larger margin for talent than its pro counterpart, the sheer number of fans following major colleges provides a financial equalizer for the game, with Division I programs – the highest level – playing in huge stadiums, six of which have seating capacity exceeding 100,000 people.
In many cases, college stadiums employ bench-style seating, as opposed to individual seats with backs and arm rests (although many stadiums do have a small number of chairback seats in addition to the bench seating).
This allows them to seat more fans in a given amount of space than the typical professional stadium, which tends to have more features and comforts for fans. (Only three stadiums owned by U.S. colleges or universities – Cardinal Stadium at the University of Louisville (Georgia State Stadium) at Georgia State University and FAU Stadium at Florida Atlantic University – consist entirely of chairback seating).
College athletes, unlike players in the NFL, are not permitted by the NCAA to be paid salaries. Colleges are only allowed to provide non-monetary compensation such as athletic scholarships that provide for tuition, housing, and books.
Modern North American football has its origins in various games, all known as “football”, played at public schools in Great Britain in the mid-19th century. By the 1840s, students at Rugby School were playing a game in which players were able to pick up the ball and run with it, a sport later known as Rugby football.
The game was taken to Canada by British soldiers stationed there and was soon being played at Canadian colleges.
The first documented gridiron football match was played at University College, a college of the University of Toronto, November 9, 1861. One of the participants in the game involving University of Toronto students was (Sir) William Mulock, later Chancellor of the school. A football club was formed at the university soon afterward, although its rules of play at this stage are unclear.
In 1864, at Trinity College, also a college of the University of Toronto, F. Barlow Cumberland and Frederick A. Bethune devised rules based on rugby football. Modern Canadian football is widely regarded as having originated with a game played in Montreal, in 1865, when British Army officers played local civilians. The game gradually gained a following, and the Montreal Football Club was formed in 1868, the first recorded non-university football club in Canada.