|Southern Conference football champions|
|Conference Football Champions|
|Current champion||Furman University (15)|
|Most championships||Furman (15)|
American Sports Network
|Official website||SoConSports.com Football|
The list of Southern Conference football champions includes 20 distinct teams that have won the college football championship awarded by the Southern Conference since its creation. In total, forty-one teams have sponsored football in the conference. Just two —Mercer and Western Carolina—have never won a Southern Conference football championship.
The conference was formed in 1921 when fourteen members from the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) met in Atlanta, Georgia with the purpose of creating a workable number of conference games for each member. The Southern Conference is notable for having spawned two other major conferences. In 1933, thirteen schools located south and west of the Appalachians (Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Sewanee, Tennessee, Tulane, and Vanderbilt) departed to form the Southeastern Conference. Twenty years later, in 1953, seven schools (Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, and Wake Forest) withdrew to form the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Currently the conference competes at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I level in athletics, with the football teams playing in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). There are nine football playing members of the Southern Conference:Chattanooga, The Citadel, East Tennessee State, Furman, Mercer, Samford, Virginia Military Institute, Western Carolina, and Wofford. Southern Conference teams have been successful in the NCAA Division I FCS Playoffs, leading all conferences with an 87–49 (.640) record. Current and former Southern Conference teams have won a total of 12 national championships.
Champions by year
Undefeated teams claiming championships: 1922–1932
The Southern Conference does not officially recognize championships claimed from the 1922–32 seasons, as there were upwards of 20 to 23 teams competing within the conference during this time. However, some championships are still cited and claimed by the individual schools.
|Year||Undefeated team(s)||Conference record||Notes|
|This was the inaugural Southern Conference football season with 20 teams participating. Vanderbilt was also a member of the SIAA until 1924, and defeated both Sewanee and Mercer. Vanderbilt tied Michigan 0-0 at the dedication of Dudley Field. Auburn upset Centre, previously undefeated in conference play. Vanderbilt end Lynn Bomar and Tech running back Red Barron were unanimous All-Southern and Walter Camp All-America second-team.|
Washington and Lee
|Florida upset Alabama, previously undefeated in conference play. Board of sportswriters awarded Vanderbilt the Champ Pickens Cup as Southern champions.|
|1924||Alabama||5–0||Board of sportswriters awarded Alabama the Champ Pickens Cup as Southern champions.|
|Alabama wins national championship; the first Southern team to win a Rose Bowl. Board of sportswriters awarded Alabama the Champ Pickens Cup as Southern champions.|
|1926||Alabama||8–0||Alabama wins national championship. Board of sportswriters awarded Alabama the Champ Pickens Cup as Southern champions.|
|1927||NC State||4–0||NC State wins conference title with undefeated and untied record.|
|1928||Georgia Tech||7–0||Georgia Tech finishes No. 3.|
|Alabama wins national championship.|
|1931||Tulane||8–0||Tulane lost the Rose Bowl to USC.|
|Thirteen teams leave after this season to form the Southeastern Conference.|
In 1978 Division I football was split into two classifications: the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A) and Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA). The Southern Conference moved to the FCS in 1982 where its members compete for the NCAA Division I Football Championship.
|1933||Duke||4–0||Upset defending Southern champion Tennessee. Coached by Wallace Wade. Fred Crawford was a consensus All-American.|
|1934||Washington and Lee||4–0|
|1936||Duke||7–0||The Citadel, Furman, George Washington, and Richmond join the Southern Conference.|
|1937||Maryland||2–0||Virginia leaves the Southern Conference before the start of the 1937 season.|
|1942||William & Mary||5–0|
|1947||William & Mary||7–1|
|1950||Washington and Lee||6–0||West Virginia joins the Southern Conference.|
|1952||Duke||5–0||Seven teams leave after this season to form the Atlantic Coast Conference.|
|1958||West Virginia||4–0||Washington and Lee leaves the Southern Conference.|
|1964||West Virginia||5–0||East Carolina joins the Southern Conference.|
|1965||West Virginia||4–0||Virginia Tech leaves the Southern Conference.|
William & Mary
|1968||Richmond||6–0||West Virginia leaves the Southern Conference.|
|1970||William & Mary||3–1||George Washington leaves the Southern Conference.|
|1971||Richmond||5–1||Appalachian State joins the Southern Conference.|
|1976||East Carolina||4–1||Chattanooga, Marshall, and Western Carolina join the Southern Conference.|
East Carolina and Richmond leave the Southern Conference.
|4–1||William & Mary leaves the Southern Conference.|
|4–1||Division I splits into I-A and I-AA subdivisions.|
East Tennessee State joins the Southern Conference.
|1982||Furman||6–1||Southern Conference drops from I-A to the I-AA classification in football.|
|6–1||Furman wins NCAA Division I-AA national championship.|
|1991||Appalachian State||6–1||Georgia Southern joins the Southern Conference.|
|1992||The Citadel||6–1||Marshall wins NCAA Division I-AA national championship.|
|1996||Marshall||8–0||Marshall wins NCAA Division I-AA national championship.|
|1997||Georgia Southern||7–1||Marshall leaves the Southern Conference.|
Wofford joins the Southern Conference.
|7–1||Georgia Southern wins NCAA Division I-AA national championship.|
|2000||Georgia Southern||7–1||Georgia Southern wins NCAA Division I-AA national championship.|
|2003||Wofford||8–0||Elon joins the Southern Conference.|
VMI leaves the Southern Conference.
|2005||Appalachian State||6–1||Appalachian State wins NCAA Division I-AA national championship.|
East Tennessee State leaves the Southern Conference.
|2006||Appalachian State||7–0||Appalachian State wins NCAA Division I FCS national championship.|
|5–2||Appalachian State wins NCAA Division I FCS national championship.|
|2008||Appalachian State||8–0||Samford joins the Southern Conference.|
|6–2||Appalachian State, Elon, and Georgia Southern leave the Southern Conference.|
|2014||Chattanooga||7–0||Mercer joins the Southern Conference. ETSU and VMI rejoin the Southern Conference. ETSU to resume football in 2015.|
|6–1||ETSU plays as FCS independent in first year of program return.|
|2016||The Citadel||8–0||ETSU rejoins conference in football.|
|2018||East Tennessee State
|2020||VMI||6-1||Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the 2020 conference season was conducted from February 20 - April 17, 2021.|
|2021||East Tennessee State||7-1|
Championships by team
|Furman||15||1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2013, 2018, 2023|
|VMI||8||1951, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1974, 1977, 2020|
|Chattanooga||7||1977, 1978, 1979, 1984, 2013, 2014, 2015|
|Wofford||7||2003, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2017, 2018, 2019|
|The Citadel||4||1961, 1992, 2015, 2016|
|East Tennessee State||2||2018, 2021|
|Appalachian State||12||1986, 1987, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012|
|Duke||10||1933, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1952|
|Georgia Southern||10||1993, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2011, 2012|
|West Virginia||8||1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1964, 1965, 1967|
|East Carolina||4||1966, 1972, 1973, 1976|
|Richmond||4||1968, 1969, 1971, 1975|
|William & Mary||4||1942, 1947, 1966, 1970|
|Marshall||3||1988, 1994, 1996|
|North Carolina||2||1946, 1949|
|Washington and Lee||2||1934, 1950|
- Current member UNC Greensboro does not sponsor football.
- Southern Conference (2008-06-30). "The History of the Southern Conference". Retrieved 2008-07-25.
- Southeastern Conference (2007). "About the Southeastern Conference (SEC)". Archived from the original on 2008-06-16. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
- Atlantic Coast Conference (2008). "About the ACC". Archived from the original on 2012-10-14. Retrieved 2008-07-25.
- Southern Conference (2008-12-01). "Southern Conference Football: SoCon Playoff History" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- Southern Conference. "Football Record Book" (PDF). 2005 Southern Conference Football. p. 144. Retrieved 2008-06-10.
- Southern Conference (2008-08-06). "Annual Leaders, History" (PDF). 2008 Southern Conference Football Media Guide. pp. 168–171. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- Foot Ball Champions — Southern Intercollegiate Conference (Trophy). Paul W. Bryant Museum. April 21, 2009. Retrieved April 7, 2023.
Cup To Become The Property Of Any Eleven Winning It Three Times — Donated By Champ Pickens
- "Vanderbilt Is Named For Pickens Trophy". The Washington Post. December 2, 1923. ProQuest 149383922.
- Alabama Athletics. "Traditions: National Championships". Archived from the original on 2008-10-22. Retrieved 2008-07-25.
- Georgia Tech Athletics. "Georgia Tech Titles". Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2008-06-10.
- Southern Conference (2008-08-06). "About the Southern Conference" (PDF). 2008 Southern Conference Football Media Guide. p. 8. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- On August 1, 1973 the NCAA's membership was divided into three legislative and competitive divisions at the first special convention ever held. All major schools were reclassified as Division I and other schools were divided into Division II and Division III. Roman numerals were chosen to be used rather than the Arabic 1, 2, 3. In 1978, Division I members voted to create subclassifications I-A, I-AA, and I-AAA for the sport of football. The major difference (at this point) besides sponsorship is the amount of scholarships allotted. I-A gets 85, I-AA gets 63, and I-AAA is for institutions that do not sponsor football. Only NCAA Division I is divided into subclassifications and only in the sport of football.
- Willie T. Smith III (2008-11-14). "Furman to honor 1988 national champs". The Greenville News. Retrieved 2008-12-16.[dead link]
- "NCAA History: FCS History". NCAA. Archived from the original on 2012-09-18. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- Overtime rules in college football were introduced in 1996, making ties impossible.
- Georgia Southern University Athletics (2006-03-06). "Championship Tradition". Georgia Southern Eagles. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- Appalachian Sports Information (2005-12-15). "Apps Win National Championship!". GoASU. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
- Appalachian Sports Information (2006-12-15). "Richardson Goes For 4, Apps Get No. 2". GoASU. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
- Appalachian Sports Information (2007-12-14). "Thrice is Nice: Apps Rout Delaware For Third-Straight National Title". GoASU. Retrieved 2008-10-02.