National Football Foundation

The MacArthur Bowl

Founded: 1959

Click here for a video on the history of the NFF's MacArthur Bowl.

Presented to every national champion since 1959, the MacArthur Bowl represents the pinnacle of team achievement in college sports. No other trophy boasts the trophy’s rich history and better symbolizes teamwork, coordinated effort, dedication, discipline and the desire to win.

Named in honor of General Douglas MacArthur, the trophy features his famous quote: “There is no substitute for victory,” and each year a new name is etched alongside the greatest teams of all time. The trophy, a replica of a football stadium, features miniature goal posts and archways with space to engrave the names of 100 championship teams. Hand crafted by Tiffany & Co. and valued at more than six figures, it took eight months to make. The trophy was the gift of an anonymous donor who shared in MacArthur’s belief that “Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that upon other fields, on other days, will bear the fruits of victory."

From 1998 until 2013, the winner of the BCS National Championship Game was automatically declared the winner of the MacArthur Bowl. Prior to 1998 during the poll era of college football, The NFF Awards Committee selected the winner of the trophy. Three other organizations, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), The Associated Press (AP) and the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), also presented championship trophies during the BCS and poll years.

With the advent of the College Football Playoff (CFP) system in 2014, college football entered a new era, and the sport added a new trophy, the CFP National Championship Trophy, presented by Dr Pepper. Both the CFP trophy and the MacArthur Bowl are on display at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The NFF presents the MacArthur Bowl to the national championship team at an event in the spring at the Hall of Fame.

Twenty-four different schools have claimed the trophy at least once during its 57-year history. Alabama has hoisted it the most, claiming it an unprecedented eight times. Notre Dame stands second with five wins while Miami (Fla.), Ohio State, Southern California and Texas have each etched their names on the trophy four times. Florida, Florida State, Nebraska and Oklahoma each boast being three-time recipients. Clemson, LSU, Michigan State and Penn State have each won the trophy twice.

“The MacArthur Bowl is a testimonial not only to superior ability but also to the exemplification of those qualities through the team, rising above heavy odds in demonstrating that superiority,” said the late-NFF Chairman Vincent dePaul Draddy in musing about the significance of the trophy in 1964. “It is the inculcation of those qualities that makes football so valuable a force in the life of a nation.”


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