The AFCA National Championship Trophy (also known as the Coaches' Trophy) is the trophy awarded annually by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) to the NCAA Division I FBS college football national champion as determined by the Coaches' Poll. The trophy has been presented since 1986 and was contractually given to the winner of the BCS National Championship Game and its predecessors from 1992-2013. It will continue to be awarded to the No. 1 ranked team in the final poll of the season.
The trophy consists of a Waterford Crystal football affixed to an ebony base, and carries a value of over $30,000. The winning school retains permanent possession of the trophy, as a new one is awarded every year. The football portion of the trophy weighs approximately 8 pounds and together with the stand, it weighs about 45 pounds (20 kg) and stands 34 inches tall. It is handmade by master craftspeople at Waterford Crystal and reportedly takes nearly three months to complete.
The trophy has undergone several sponsorship changes over the years. It was sponsored by the Gerrits Foundation during the initial 1986 and 1987 seasons. Patrick and Michael Gerrits came up with the idea for a college football trophy to be awarded to the AFCA national champions along with an academic scholarship award to a non-athlete. The intent was to honor the memory of the patriarch of the Gerrits family, Edward J. Gerrits. The expenses associated with the trophy eventually became too much of a burden to the family, so Pepsi became a co-sponsor in 1988 and 1989. McDonald's was the sole sponsor from 1990-1992. Sears began its sponsorship in 1993 and remained until 2001. Circuit City assumed the sponsorship for the 2002 season. ADT Security Services was the title sponsor from 2003 to 2005, and from 2009-2013 Dr Pepper sponsored the trophy. Since, 2014, Amway has been the trophy sponsor.
The official name is the American Football Coaches Association National Championship Trophy; it was given this permanent name by the association in 2006. In 2009, the AFCA allowed universities to buy replica trophies for any year a school finished first in the Coaches' Poll prior to the trophy's creation in 1986.
Through the 1973 season, the final Coaches' Poll was released in early December, after the regular season, but before postseason bowl games. Beginning with the 1974 season, the Coaches' Poll conducted its final poll after the bowl games.
During the era of the Bowl Championship Series and its predecessors (1992-2013), the BCS did not commission its own official trophy, and so the Coaches' Trophy was presented to the winning team in an on-field ceremony after the title game. With the demise of the BCS, its successor playoff system, the College Football Playoff, commissioned a new trophy for its champion; officials wanted a new trophy that was unconnected with the previous championship system. However, coaches were "adamant" that the AFCA trophy continue to be awarded. Since 2014, the trophy has been awarded to the team ranked No. 1 in the final Coaches' Poll of the season in a celebration at that team's stadium sometime after the College Football Playoff National Championship.