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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Frank Deford: It’s The Dog Days For America’s Sports Dynasties

House of Windsor Losses. (woof)

In particular, we used to have three bona fide dynasties: the Yankees in baseball, the Celtics and Lakers in basketball, and the Cowboys in football. (Even if the Cowboys weren’t a traditional dynasty, it was a sort of dynasty brand.)

We adored dynasties. As soon as some team won one championship, we’d all go: Is this the next dynasty? We even had dynasties in college sports, too, like UCLA in basketball and Notre Dame in football –– back when the Irish players went to Mass instead of talked on the phone in all their spare time.

But now, I have to tell you, they’re all gone. Sorry, sports fans: No more dynasties.

...Meanwhile, even before the guileless Alex Rodriquez underwent hip surgery and then got fingered again for using naughty medications, the Yankees were turning into a home for the assisted living.

The current, ordinary Celtics are long in the tooth, too. If the Yankees can’t get under the luxury-tax limit and sign Ponce de Leon to replace A-Rod, this could actually be the first year since 1994 that the Yankees, Lakers, Celtics and Cowboys will have, all together, missed the playoffs. A dynasty shutout.

...So, it’s a parity world now in Sports America. Yes, a certain glamour is still attached to teams with great tradition, but you can dine out on history for only so long. There’s something revealing about seeing so many of the most expensive seats at Yankee Stadium empty, game after game. Especially in New York, the in-crowd is the first to know when the old in-thing is out.

And it’s kind of ironic that, at a time when there is such demographic inequality in America, sports is less aristocratic than ever.

 

Repoz Posted: February 06, 2013 at 06:01 PM | 57 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: February 06, 2013 at 06:14 PM (#4364468)
In particular, we used to have three bona fide dynasties: the Yankees in baseball, the Celtics and Lakers in basketball, and the Cowboys in football.

Our chief weapon is surprise. Surprise and fear, fear and surprise, our two weapons are fear and surprise and ruthless efficiency. Our three weapons are fear, and surprise, and ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.
   2. Hello Rusty Kuntz, Goodbye Rusty Cars Posted: February 06, 2013 at 06:23 PM (#4364482)
Alabama football seems to be doing OK.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 06, 2013 at 06:31 PM (#4364491)
The Patriots have played in five of the last ten Super Bowls, winning three of them. That's not a dynasty?

Frankly I find dynasties to be hugely boring. I seem to remember a similar conversation in the early 90s. Bird and Magic were retired, the Lakers and Celtics sucked, the Yankees were awful, the Steelers were mediocre, and the Packers were bad. But you still had mini-dynasties from the A's, Jays, 49ers, Pistons, and of course the Bulls were beginning their run.
   4. Zach Posted: February 06, 2013 at 06:57 PM (#4364505)
Since 2001, the Yankees have averaged 97 wins. The playoffs just don't reward regular season winners as much as they used to.
   5. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: February 06, 2013 at 07:39 PM (#4364534)
The Patriots have played in five of the last ten Super Bowls, winning three of them. That's not a dynasty?


Depends on your definition. For me it's an "era". A "dynasty" to me is the Yankees, Canadiens, Celtics, the teams winning multiple championships in bulk over many years with vastly different personnel. Certainly the first dozen years of this century has belonged to the Pats but for my definition that's not a "dynasty." YMMV.
   6. Dale Sams Posted: February 06, 2013 at 08:13 PM (#4364560)
Wasn't it just a few short years ago that Frank swore never to watch baseball again for the lack of parity?
   7. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 06, 2013 at 08:27 PM (#4364566)
wait, is deford complaining that the nobles aren't tormenting the serfs?

the pro-tsar argument?

for a sportswriter, that's a new one
   8. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 06, 2013 at 08:37 PM (#4364570)

The Patriots have played in five of the last ten Super Bowls, winning three of them. That's not a dynasty?

Another way to phrase it is that they've been to 2 Super Bowls in the last 5 years, and didn't win either. I think the Pats were clearly a dynasty from 2001-2005 but there just isn't a dynasty in the NFL right now (and that's fine).

In basketball I think we are closer. Over the last 14 years the Lakers (5) and Spurs (4) have won 9 titles. The Lakers stink this year but the Spurs have the best record in the NBA. And we may very well be at the beginning of a Miami Heat dynasty.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: February 06, 2013 at 09:41 PM (#4364598)
Selig is the baseball dynasty
   10. JJ1986 Posted: February 06, 2013 at 09:55 PM (#4364605)
this could actually be the first year since 1994 that the Yankees, Lakers, Celtics and Cowboys will have, all together, missed the playoffs.


The Lakers and Yankees have each only missed one of those years. This statement has nothing to do with the other two teams.
   11. depletion Posted: February 07, 2013 at 09:36 AM (#4364773)
Our chief weapon is surprise. Surprise and fear, fear and surprise, our two weapons are fear and surprise and ruthless efficiency. Our three weapons are fear, and surprise, and ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.

I have some peanut butter in my car, you can use that. Well, on my car.
   12. jmurph Posted: February 07, 2013 at 10:07 AM (#4364792)
The Cowboys are an interesting inclusion in this discussion, since they've been completely irrelevant for more than 15 years.
   13. BDC Posted: February 07, 2013 at 10:57 AM (#4364826)
"Dynasty," a subjective term certainly, connotes to me a succession of rulers: so, in sports terms, a club that has rebuilt itself continually and completely, winning championships over several "generations" of personnel. That means there will be fewer of them by my definition than by some others'. In baseball, the Giants from the 1900s through the 1930s; the Dodgers from the 1940s through the 1980s; the Yankees almost continuously since the 1920s. Maybe some more minor examples, like the Orioles who won pennants in 1966, 1969-71, and again in 1979 and '83 with almost a total change in personnel.

By this standard the Lakers and Celtics are still going strong (I mean, they can't both win absolutely every year, but they've won three of the last five NBA titles, and been in the thick of it in other recent seasons). The Cowboys, as noted, were perhaps a dynasty from the early 70s through the mid-90s, but are deader right now than Richard III.
   14. Russ Posted: February 07, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4364848)
The Cowboys missed the playoffs twice from 1966 to 1985. I'm a die-hard Steelers fan, but that's damn impressive.
   15. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 07, 2013 at 11:30 AM (#4364857)
"Dynasty," a subjective term certainly, connotes to me a succession of rulers: so, in sports terms, a club that has rebuilt itself continually and completely, winning championships over several "generations" of personnel.

The only question you've left unanswered is how big a gap between runs of success you'd allow, and how long a run has to be before you consider it a dynasty.

Seems to me that the Lakers qualify as an almost continuous dynasty that stretches back to the first year they joined the BAA (now NBA) in the late 40's. In the 64 years they've been in existence, they've only missed the playoffs 5 times, and twice in a row only once (1974/75 and 1975/76). By contrast, the Celtics have missed the playoffs 16 times in their 66 year history, including one stretch from 95-96 to 00-01 where they missed it every year.

OTOH for dominant dynasties no team can come close to the Celtics: 11 championships in 13 years, broken only by a loss in the 57-58 finals when Bill Russell got hurt, and a loss in the Eastern finals in 66-67 when the 76ers put up one of the half dozen or so greatest teams in history. That's a record I doubt will ever be broken.

In baseball, the Yankees are the most obvious dynasty, and for short range runnerup I'd have to go with the Braves of the past 22 years. But it's hard to really compare baseball dynasties between the pre-division era, since it's so much easier to qualify for the postseason, and yet so much harder to survive it.

And the NFL is even tougher, due to the draft and the relatively short careers. For dominance, two teams stand out, the 1946-55 Browns of the AAFC/NFL (7 championships and 10 title game appearances) and the Packers from 1960 through 1967 (5 championships in 6 appearances, and an 11-2-1 record in one of the two years they didn't make it). For long term success, it's hard to beat the Cowboys from the mid-60's through the mid-90's, and for continuous dominance / near-dominance in the modern era, I'd go with the last 12 years of the Patriots.
   16. Booey Posted: February 07, 2013 at 11:31 AM (#4364861)
Frankly I find dynasties to be hugely boring.


Same. Few things kill my interest in sports more than postseasons that seem like a foregone conclusion, when the same handful of teams win almost every year and no one else seems to have a chance. I find the current break from the dynasties to be refreshing.

Besides, the NBA has never gone more than a few years without a dynasty since the 70's, so this article may be a bit premature. I could easily see the Heat winning the next few titles and rendering this entire conversation moot.
   17. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 07, 2013 at 11:37 AM (#4364866)
Some dynasties (Yankees/Celtics) are great, others (Lakers/Cowboys) not so much. It mostly depends on the character of the players.
   18. Booey Posted: February 07, 2013 at 11:41 AM (#4364871)
Some dynasties (Yankees/Celtics) are great, others (Lakers/Cowboys) not so much. It mostly depends on the character of the players.


Aren't you a Yankee and Celtic fan? Hmmmm.... ;-)
   19. TDF, situational idiot Posted: February 07, 2013 at 11:48 AM (#4364876)
I don't know if I'd call the Cowboys a "dynasty" at any point, but they've had 2 really impressive runs:

From '70-'82, they won 2 Super Bowls, played in 3 more, and played in 5 more conference championships.

From '92-'95, they won 3 Super Bowls in 4 seasons (just like the Patriots did from '01-'04), and lost the NFC Championship game the other season.
   20. TDF, situational idiot Posted: February 07, 2013 at 12:03 PM (#4364890)
Some dynasties (Yankees/Celtics) are great, others (Lakers/Cowboys) not so much
The Lakers have 2 stretches I'd call them a dynasty:

From '48/49 - 53/54 they won 5 titles in 6 years.

From '79/80 - '87/88 they won 5 titles in 9 years, and played for 2 more titles. (From '79/80 - '90/91 they played for 9 of the 12 championships).

Comparing them to the Yankees and Celtics, all time:

NYY: 27 titles in 112 seasons (.241 titles/sesason)
BOS: 17 in 67 (.254)
LAL: 16 in 65 (.246)
   21. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 07, 2013 at 12:10 PM (#4364897)
The most dominant dynasty has been UCLA basketball in the 60s and 70s. I guess I could see someone matching their 88-game win streak (*), but no one's going to touch either their 10 NCs in 12 years between 1964-75, or their seven straight NCs between 1967-73.

(*) Though it's extremely unlikely.
   22. Booey Posted: February 07, 2013 at 12:11 PM (#4364900)
The Lakers have 2 stretches I'd call them a dynasty:

From '48/49 - 53/54 they won 5 titles in 6 years.

From '79/80 - '87/88 they won 5 titles in 9 years, and played for 2 more titles. (From '79/80 - '90/91 they played for 9 of the 12 championships).


What about 2000-2010? They played in 7 of 11 Finals and won 5 titles.
   23. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: February 07, 2013 at 12:15 PM (#4364904)
1990s Buffalo Bills: A Dynasty?
   24. TDF, situational idiot Posted: February 07, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4364913)
What about 2000-2010?
Yea, that one too.
   25. Hack Wilson Posted: February 07, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4364921)
Oklahoma had a 47 Game Win Streak. Got stopped by Notre Dame, who I rooted for in those days.
   26. TDF, situational idiot Posted: February 07, 2013 at 12:46 PM (#4364924)
By the way - you want a dynasty? The Reds have won the last 9 World Series games they've played!
   27. tfbg9 Posted: February 07, 2013 at 01:00 PM (#4364939)
Aren't you a Yankee and Celtic fan?


He's a classic frontrunner.
   28. Kurt Posted: February 07, 2013 at 01:09 PM (#4364943)
Obviously dynasties in lesser sports/divisions are less impressive, but you also have/had UConn women's hoops, Kenyon swimming, Soviet hockey and US men's hoops.
   29. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 07, 2013 at 01:36 PM (#4364963)
The most dominant dynasty has been UCLA basketball in the 60s and 70s. I guess I could see someone matching their 88-game win streak (*), but no one's going to touch either their 10 NCs in 12 years between 1964-75, or their seven straight NCs between 1967-73.

(*) Though it's extremely unlikely.

UNC women's soccer: in the 31 times the NCAA national championship has been played since 1982, they've won 21 times. This includes their repeat wins from 1986-1994 and the stretch from 1982 to 2000 where they only didn't win three times. They've never gone three years without winning a championship (and they're currently defending champions).
   30. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 07, 2013 at 02:08 PM (#4365000)
Some dynasties (Yankees/Celtics) are great, others (Lakers/Cowboys) not so much. It mostly depends on the character of the players.

Aren't you a Yankee and Celtic fan? Hmmmm.... ;-)


The Yanks forever, since I was born in New York in a largely Italian neighborhood where everyone was a Yankee fan.

But the Celtics only since the Bird era. I hated them prior to that because they always beat the #### out of my favorite teams (the Warriors, the Nats and the Sixers) during the Russell era, when Wilt Chamberlain was my favorite player. (Hey, I was a gunner myself, and Russell's skills were way too subtle.)

I've never rooted for Notre Dame (until I started selling their posters), Dallas, the Lakers, Green Bay, the Unitas era Colts, Southern Cal or Duke, despite the fact that Duke is my alma mater. I've rooted for Carolina since the days of the Underground Railroad, and I rooted for UCLA during the Wooden years because they kicked Duke in the teeth and played a style of ball that I liked. And I've always liked Indiana because I love the campus and the town.

------------------------------------

The most dominant dynasty has been UCLA basketball in the 60s and 70s. I guess I could see someone matching their 88-game win streak (*), but no one's going to touch either their 10 NCs in 12 years between 1964-75, or their seven straight NCs between 1967-73.

UCLA during the Wooden era had several enormous advantages that could never be duplicated today or in the future.

First, they attracted the cream of the California and West Coast high school crop in an era when eastern colleges seldom recruited outside their own geographic area.

Second, UCLA had a great reputation among black players that enabled them also to recruit top prospects outside the West Coast, like Lew Alcindor from New York.

Third, secondary western schools like UNLV hadn't started to compete on a serious level.

Fourth, the southern colleges were either still lily white or had just started limited recruitment of black players. This meant that UCLA had little to worry about from the SEC or the ACC or the then-SWC.

Fifth, the PAC-8 / PAC-10 regular season champ got an automatic bid, and didn't have to go through a conference tournament. This kept UCLA from being downseeded in the regional due to the sort of flukish upsets that are commonplace now.

Sixth, you didn't have players jumping to the pros every year, which meant that the Wooden teams had a continuity to them that's unheard of in the modern era.

And finally, the NCAA tournament brackets were determined by geography rather than by national seeding. This effectively gave UCLA a free pass to the Final Four every year.

So no, I don't think that Wooden's record is ever going to be broken, neither the win streak nor the championship run.
   31. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 07, 2013 at 02:19 PM (#4365015)
So no, I don't think that Wooden's record is ever going to be broken, neither the win streak nor the championship run.

Andy, your exhaustive list left out: "Gilbert, Dr. Sam"
   32. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 07, 2013 at 02:27 PM (#4365029)
Good addition, Pasta, I'd forgotten all about him.
   33. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 07, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4365051)

Obviously dynasties in lesser sports/divisions are less impressive, but you also have/had UConn women's hoops, Kenyon swimming, Soviet hockey and US men's hoops.


On "Hang Up and Listen", Stefan Fatsis listed the All-Time most NCAA/NAIA Championships by school. They are:

1. UCLA (108) - makes sense.
2. Stanford (99) - of course
3. USC (98) - no doubt
4. Abilene Christian (58) - wait, what?
5. Kenyon (57) - swimming, okay
6. Simon Fraser (55) - aren't they in British Columbia?
7. Adams State (51) - huh

Abilene Christian has won 31 NCAA track and field championships.

24 of the 32 NCAA Rifle championships have been won by either West Virginia or Alaska-Fairbanks. They are the Lakers and Celtics of NCAA Rifle Shooting.

Lindenwood (Mo.) has won the last nine NAIA shooting championships.
   34. BDC Posted: February 07, 2013 at 02:41 PM (#4365055)
College and pro dynasties have a built-in structural difference, of course, in that college teams necessarily turn over their entire squads at most every four years. College dynasties are usually defined by great coaches providing continuity. It's harder to create a pro dynasty, or certainly different. Sometimes a single coach or manager or owner is at the helm for a very long time, sometimes it seems more of an ethos or tradition that gets perpetuated in the pros.

   35. BDC Posted: February 07, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4365062)
Everything else is on the Web, but I can't find a list of national collegiate men's wheelchair basketball champions. Anyway, Illinois and Texas-Arlington (yay!) are dynasties at that sport, for sure.
   36. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 07, 2013 at 02:54 PM (#4365078)
Fourth, the southern colleges were either still lily white or had just started limited recruitment of black players. This meant that UCLA had little to worry about from the SEC or the ACC or the then-SWC.\

Except their 88 game (!!!!!) winning streak was from 1971-74. By then, the powers of the SEC and ACC (primarily Kentucky, North Carolina, NC State, and Maryland) had plenty of black players.

Apropos of whatever (mostly that UCLA played a representative intersectional schedule), here's UCLA's 1973-74 nonconference schedule:

Arkansas
Maryland (powerhouse)
SMU
NC State (powerhouse, eventual NC)
St. Bonnies
Wyoming
Michigan
Iowa
Notre Dame (bye-bye win streak)
Santa Clara
Notre Dame again

That's a helluva tough road.


   37. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 07, 2013 at 02:58 PM (#4365085)
Mt. Union, Div III football
   38. booond Posted: February 07, 2013 at 03:10 PM (#4365098)
1. UCLA (108) - makes sense.
2. Stanford (99) - of course
3. USC (98) - no doubt
4. Abilene Christian (58) - wait, what?
5. Kenyon (57) - swimming, okay
6. Simon Fraser (55) - aren't they in British Columbia?
7. Adams State (51) - huh

Abilene Christian has won 31 NCAA track and field championships.


ACU is Div 2 or NAIA
Adams State is also a great track and cross-country school in Div 2
   39. vivaelpujols Posted: February 07, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4365100)
I ####### hate Frank Deford
   40. Danny Posted: February 07, 2013 at 03:32 PM (#4365123)
And the NFL is even tougher, due to the draft and the relatively short careers. For dominance, two teams stand out, the 1946-55 Browns of the AAFC/NFL (7 championships and 10 title game appearances) and the Packers from 1960 through 1967 (5 championships in 6 appearances, and an 11-2-1 record in one of the two years they didn't make it). For long term success, it's hard to beat the Cowboys from the mid-60's through the mid-90's, and for continuous dominance / near-dominance in the modern era, I'd go with the last 12 years of the Patriots.

Ignoring the 1982 strike, the 49ers won 10+ games every year from 1981-1999. They won 5 Super Bowls, played in 10 conference championships (including 6 in 7 years), and led the league in point differential seven times. The Pats have had a great 12 year run, but I don't see how they top the Niners.
   41. just plain joe Posted: February 07, 2013 at 03:43 PM (#4365136)
Except their 88 game (!!!!!) winning streak was from 1971-74. By then, the powers of the SEC and ACC (primarily Kentucky, North Carolina, NC State, and Maryland) had plenty of black players.


Kentucky had 1 black player in 1970-71, Tom Payne, who left after the season for the NBA. They had 3 in 1971-72, two guys who walked on from the football team and Greg Smith who played 4 minutes in 2 games. They had 1 in 1972-73, Reggie Warford, who played in a total of 50 games during his 4 years on the team, In 1973-74 UK had 2 black players, Warford and freshman Merion Haskins. During all four seasons (except 1970-71 when Payne scored 473 points & was all SEC) the vast majority of playing time and points went to white players. I'm not bragging about this, I'm just stating the facts. I can't really speak for the other schools mentioned but Kentucky, at least, did not have many black players during those years.
   42. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 07, 2013 at 04:29 PM (#4365189)
Ignoring the 1982 strike, the 49ers won 10+ games every year from 1981-1999. They won 5 Super Bowls, played in 10 conference championships (including 6 in 7 years), and led the league in point differential seven times. The Pats have had a great 12 year run, but I don't see how they top the Niners.

Point conceded. That's the problem with doing this #### off the top of my head. Ironic since I kind of liked the Montana 49ers (at least in the Super Bowls) but don't care much for Brady's Patriots.

---------------------------------------------

Fourth, the southern colleges were either still lily white or had just started limited recruitment of black players. This meant that UCLA had little to worry about from the SEC or the ACC or the then-SWC.

Except their 88 game (!!!!!) winning streak was from 1971-74. By then, the powers of the SEC and ACC (primarily Kentucky, North Carolina, NC State, and Maryland) had plenty of black players.


Just Plain Joe's already deconstructed the Kentucky rosters for those years, and clearly I should have said "black star players". I should note a few exceptions....

NC State: David Thompson
Maryland: Len Bias, John Lucas
North Carolina: Charlie Scott, Bob McAdoo

But their tournament run began in 1963-64 and ran through 1972-73, with only one break in 1965-66 when Gail Goodrich and Walt Hazzard had left and Alcindor was on the freshman team. All of those players above, except Scott, didn't come along until the 70's.

And of course their recruiting edge over the SEC/ACC/SWC among blacks was but one of many advantages I listed above. To take the most ridiculous example of them all, since the ACC only sent its tournament winner to the NCAA tournament, that meant that in 1974 Maryland was out, even though it was ranked 4th in the country at that point.
   43. Ace of Kevin Bass Posted: February 07, 2013 at 05:19 PM (#4365244)
Of course, the recruiting practices under Wooden would probably result in severe sanctions against UCLA if they happened today. There are many reasons they won 88 games straight, not all of which are a testament to integrity or sportsmanship.

On a similar note, Anson Dorrance coaching the U.S. women's soccer team and funneling basically any top high school women's soccer recruit into the UNC program was, for many years, the prime reason for their dynasty as well.

Bottom line for both UCLA men's basketball and UNC women's soccer: if you can contrive to get essentially all the top talent to come to your school by hook or by crook, you're going to have unparalleled success.
   44. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 07, 2013 at 05:27 PM (#4365252)
a primer on Sam Gilbert and UCLA. From that article:
The NCAA never bothered to investigate UCLA during Wooden's time, part of its history of selective enforcement. During the 1960s and '70s, the organization, run by old white men, was too busy going after small, upstart programs that dared to play too many African-Americans, launching inquiries into Texas Western/UTEP, Western Kentucky, Centenary and Long Beach State.


as Tarkanian once said, "the NCAA is so pissed off at Kentucky, they're going to put Cleveland State on probation"
   45. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: February 07, 2013 at 05:45 PM (#4365266)
The dark side of UCLA basketball

More Sam Gilbert and UCLA
   46. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: February 07, 2013 at 05:47 PM (#4365268)
The Times established that Gilbert, during Wooden's heyday, helped players get cars, clothes, airline tickets and scalpers' prices for UCLA season tickets. Gilbert allegedly even arranged abortions for players' girlfriends.
   47. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 07, 2013 at 06:08 PM (#4365292)
I wonder if it ever would have been possible to have a totally non-corrupt and still reasonably "Big Time" college football or basketball program at more than a tiny handful of colleges at the same time**. I kind of doubt it, not with the kind of money that's always been at stake, going back to the "golden age" of the 1920's and possibly even earlier.

**With athletic scholarships allowed, but with athletes expected to take and pass real courses under the same standards as non-athletes. I'm not even sure that this has been the case at even a single school in a single time frame. It certainly wasn't at Duke at the time I was there.
   48. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 07, 2013 at 06:14 PM (#4365302)
I wonder if it ever would have been possible to have a totally non-corrupt and still reasonably "Big Time" college football or basketball program at more than a tiny handful of colleges at the same time**. I kind of doubt it, not with the kind of money that's always been at stake, going back to the "golden age" of the 1920's and possibly even earlier.

**With athletic scholarships allowed, but with athletes expected to take and pass real courses under the same standards as non-athletes. I'm not even sure that this has been the case at even a single school in a single time frame. It certainly wasn't at Duke at the time I was there.


Highly unlikely.

College sports as we know them are nearing an end as a revolutionary verdict or settlement in the NCAA/O'Bannon/Oscar/B. Russell case is a near-certainty. So those who enjoy them as they are better get with the enjoying, because it's almost over.
   49. smileyy Posted: February 07, 2013 at 06:14 PM (#4365303)
I'm assuming that Wooden had/has about the same cult of personality around him that JoePa did, and all the attendant corruption that causes/enables that has been decried around here.
   50. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 07, 2013 at 06:17 PM (#4365311)
NC State: David Thompson
Maryland: Len Bias, John Lucas
North Carolina: Charlie Scott, Bob McAdoo


Len Elmore at Maryland, too, but point taken.

Goose Givens at Kentucky, but that's at the tail end of the Wooden era.

Bias is way later. Carolina had Walter Davis and Phil Ford shortly after Wooden left.
   51. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 07, 2013 at 06:18 PM (#4365313)
I'm assuming that Wooden had/has about the same cult of personality around him that JoePa did, and all the attendant corruption that causes/enables that has been decried around here.

and the story about Bear Bryant and paying recruits was that he told his assisstants "don't pay more than the going rate"
   52. Ace of Kevin Bass Posted: February 07, 2013 at 06:26 PM (#4365320)
Academic standards for athletes are a completely different issue than paying recruits to come play for you, Andy, as I hope you would realize.

It's unfair to excuse or mitigate in any respect what happened under Wooden with Sam Gilbert by saying, "yeah, but athletes everywhere have different standards in the classroom."

Utterly different things.
   53. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 07, 2013 at 07:09 PM (#4365346)
Apologies to Len Elmore for that autopilot misnaming in #42.

Academic standards for athletes are a completely different issue than paying recruits to come play for you, Andy, as I hope you would realize.

It's unfair to excuse or mitigate in any respect what happened under Wooden with Sam Gilbert by saying, "yeah, but athletes everywhere have different standards in the classroom."

Utterly different things.


Of course they are. My question was independent of any specific scandal, big or small. But the corruption that manifests itself in lowering standards for athletes has the same root as the corruption that pays them under the table: Rampant hypercommercialism. In 1929 the Carnegie Foundation issued a 383 page report on American College Athletics, whose findings and concerns could have been written today. The only differences would involve technological advances and several decimal points.
   54. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: February 07, 2013 at 10:27 PM (#4365440)
I came up with a back-of-the-envelope way of measuring dynasties a while back: (titles)^2/(years). Features:

A stretch of N consecutive titles has a dynasty score of N
Adding on one more title after in a span of two years always improves the score

So, the Cowboys and Pats get 2.25 for their 3 Super Bowls-in-4 years stretches. The '70s Steelers get 2.67 for 4 titles in 6 years, while the Yankees get 3.2 for 4 WS in 5 years from '96-'00. The Celtics from '56-'69 won 11 in 13 years; they get a 9.3. (Or you can extend it through '86, with 16 titles in 30 years, but that comes in a bit lower.) The Canadiens from '52 to '79 won 16 Stanley Cups in 27 years, good for a 9.5. And the Yankees from '23-'62 won 20 WS in 40 years, for an even 10.0. (Technically, they do a bit better from '27-'62, with 19 titles in 36 years, a 10.03.)

Anyway, this is hardly a rigorous tool, but I think it works relatively well for as simple as it is.
   55. Howie Menckel Posted: February 07, 2013 at 10:44 PM (#4365449)

My alma mater often has been a SERIOUS contender for national collegiate bowling titles - and won more than their share of them. So there's that.

   56. just plain joe Posted: February 08, 2013 at 12:41 AM (#4365487)
Goose Givens at Kentucky, but that's at the tail end of the Wooden era.


I don't think Andy wants to hear about Jack "Goose" Givens :-) It is no coincidence that Kentucky's ability/desire to recruit and play black athletes coincided with Joe B. Hall "officially" taking over the head coaching position from Adolph Rupp, in 1972. For what it's worth, it was common knowledge (at least in Kentucky) that Hall had been the defacto coach at UK for several years before the school's administration was able to ease Rupp out the door. At that it took Hall several years before the residual stigma of the Rupp era dissipated and black athletes felt truly welcome at UK.
   57. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 08, 2013 at 12:57 AM (#4365497)
I don't think Andy wants to hear about Jack "Goose" Givens :-)

Are you kidding? Any Duke destroyer is a friend of mine. But you're absolutely right about Hall and Rupp. The sweetest game in many lives was that 1966 final between Texas Western and Kentucky.

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