How is the NCAA football championship awarded using the BCS?

Long answer...short answer is in the final paragraph. The National College Athletic Association (NCAA) Football program is the only major college sport not to have a championship established by the NCAA. There is NO NCAA Football champion. History originally had Harvard, Yale and a few other "now" Ivy League teams playing each other. The one with the best record at the end of the year was considered the champ. Later when more colleges started playing football, the IAACS (later NCAA) was established as a discussion group and rules making body. It was brought about indirectly by Presidential decree of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt threatened to outlaw football by executive order if it weren't made safer. The first NCAA sanctioned "National Championship" was in 1921 for track and field. While the NCAA is still the rule making body for college football, they have not established a championship due to the revenue generated by bowl games. The bowl games were originally legal contracts between conferences where the winner of the Big-10 would be contractually obligated to play the winner of the PAC-10. This was an early version of east-coast / west-coast rivalry. During these early years, there were as many as ten different National champions declared by various news outlets. The news outlets with the largest distribution were in NY City and LA. As a result, the national champion during these early years was either a Big-10 or PAC-10 team. The Big East and the Atlantic Coast Conference were not around during this time, and the Ivy League's teams weren't undefeated every year. This is also a reason the Big East and ACC weren't initially in the BCS arrangement. These contract bowl games became the basis for the BCS. The top teams in the SEC, PAC-10, Big-10 and Big-12 were given an opportunity to play for a national championship based on a new contract between the conferences. The original contract led to lawsuits and congressional hearings. The BCS agreement has been amended several times and is reviewed every three years. The actual contract, signed by each conference, recognizes the final coaches poll as the official and only National Champion. Coaches can actually be penalized for not voting in accordance with the championship game results...a coach can lose his vote for going against the contract. That's why you see a unanimous champ in the coaches poll.