The first three decades were fairly rich with first time champions because teams were beginning to populate the list. There was a 20-year dip after that as few teams (one of which had been a power in the ’20s already) asserted themselves. The 1980s and ’90s brought a burst of new champs as the nation’s Sun Belt and West (plus Penn State) produced more good teams. It’s worth noting that only some were really that new as three of them (Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Washington) claim national titles from this era from sources other than the AP or UPI/Coaches Poll.
Florida in 1996 was the last team to win its first national championship. The decade that just passed was the first not to produce a first-time champion. What gives?