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Sports Then and Now



In the Old Days: College Athletic Programs That Used To Be Powerhouses 30

Posted on October 22, 2011 by Jena Ellis

The Princeton football program was once more dominant than USC, Alabama or Florida have been in recent generations..

College sports fans often complain about the disparity between the “haves” and “have nots.” In college football, Alabama, Notre Dame, USC and Oklahoma own a bulk of the national titles from the last 90 years. In college basketball, UCLA, Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Indiana and Kansas are the dominant six that have presided over the sport over last several decades. While parity may never truly take hold, the powerhouses will likely change over time, as evidenced by the examples of former powerhouses provided below. These programs aren’t nearly as dominant — or nearly as relevant — as they were years ago, but they’ll always have those glory years in which they immeasurably contributed to the evolution of major college athletics.

Princeton Tigers football

With 28 claimed national titles, even Alabama fans are taken aback by Princeton’s early dominance. The Tigers were early adopters of the sport, a variant of rugby, participating in the first-ever football game against Rutgers on November 6, 1869. They lost 6-4, but won the rematch a week later, leading to a split of the first national title. During the first 40 years of college football, the Tigers won 22 national titles, an era of success unparalleled by any other college athletic team — save for their rivals at Yale. Their last national title came in 1950, which was followed by Dick Kazmaier’s Heisman Trophy-winning season in 1951, the only time a Tiger has won the award.

Yale Bulldogs football

During the late 19th century, college football became more structured, closer resembling the sport we know today. Head coaches were being hired for the first time, perhaps the most notable of which was Walter Camp, the “Father of Football,” who finished his playing career at Yale six years before he was hired. He tallied a 67-2 record at the helm, capturing three national titles. None of his successors lost more than two games until 1914, 22 years after he left the program. The foundation he nurtured is the primary reason Yale ranks second all-time in wins behind Michigan, boasts 28 College Football Hall of Fame inductees — such as Amos Alonzo Stagg — and two Heisman winners.

Harvard Crimson football
Yale’s archrival isn’t quite as accomplished, but possesses a rich history of success consisting of 12 national titles and 20 College Football Hall of Fame inductees. Although the Crimson’s last claimed national title came in 1920, a year in which it defeated Oregon in the Rose Bowl, it remains the eighth winningest program in college football history. Their most cherished wins have come in “The Game” — though they trail the series 54-65-8 — which has been played since 1875, making it the second-oldest continuing rivalry in college football. Many of the sport’s rules and traditions were born during the yearly event. Read the rest of this entry →

Should College Athletes Be Paid? 18

Posted on August 18, 2011 by Teddy Bailey

Recent "scandals" have brought up the topic of paying Collegiate Athletes.

This offseason has been by far the worst offseason in the history of College Football. USC and Ohio State have broken NCAA regulations and the allegations surrounding Miami (though not yet proven) are even worse. These situations, along with many others in recent years, beg the question as to whether college athletes should be paid.

Here’s the answer:

This a tough question, because everyone wants to see their favorite team out on the field and winning games, not being inspected and searched by the NCAA, but college athletes should NOT be paid or rewarded beyond what they already receive. Read the rest of this entry →

Ranking the Top Conferences in College Basketball 5

Posted on March 04, 2011 by Ray Thompson

Ben Hansbrough and Notre Dame is just one of the teams that makes the Big East the strongest conference in college basketball.

Welcome to Part II of my ranking of the top conferences in Division I college basketball, just in time for the start of the conference tournaments.

Illustrating the volatility of the 2010-11 season, this past weekend, #1 Duke falls to Virginia Tech, who a few days later loses to Boston College, a team on the bubble hoping for an at large bid, pushing Ohio state into the #1 spot in both polls.

BYU suspends one of its marquis players, Brandon Davies, for violating the schools honor code, and they go from Dance Darling to big question mark.  Ranked #3 after beating San Diego state last weekend, BYU, in its first game without Davies in the line-up, is upset by New Mexico losing by a margin of 18 points.  Is this a momentary lapse by a team that has been dominant all season or is Davies that much of an impact player that it changes the dynamics of that team significantly?  Only time will tell.  That is an amazing kick off to the month of March and is why this season is like no other.

With that said, here are my Top 5 Conferences:

Top Conference #5: The Atlantic Coast Conference
No conference represents the volatility of this season quite like the ACC.  This is a conference that at one time looked as though it could send as many as 6 or 7 teams to the tournament and now may be lucky to send 4.  The ACC conference has only two teams in the top 25 in Duke (starting the weekend ranked number 1 and now ranked #4) and North Carolina outside the top ten at #13 with a chance finish tops in the ACC with one more win.  This is a very competitive conference with Florida State and Virginia Tech likely heading to the dance but also includes teams like Boston College, Maryland, Miami, and Clemson who currently find themselves on the outside looking in.  Duke is likely the 2 seed in the East, North Carolina the three seed out of the West, with Florida State the 10 seed and Virginia Tech the 8 seed both coming out of the southeast bracket.  These four teams are a combined 8-9 against ranked opponents with Duke carrying 4 of those wins. So while this conference may only send 4 teams, they will be battle tested teams coming out of a strong conference. Read the rest of this entry →

Ranking the Best Conferences in College Basketball, Part 1 11

Posted on February 28, 2011 by Ray Thompson

Jimmer Fredette has been the face of college basketball this season and has the BYU Cougars poised for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.

If you are paying attention at all to this year’s division I basketball season, you know how crazy things are.  This year is wide open, and for the first time it is a true statement to say that anyone can win it all.  Of course, there are the usual players like Duke, Ohio State, and North Carolina (who is in the top 20 but is usually in the top 5 year in and year out), but there are also teams like BYU, Xavier, Vanderbilt, and Missouri in spots normally occupied by teams from the ACC and SEC.  My boys from Harvard by the way are close to cracking the top 30 and are in a dog fight with Princeton for the top spot in the Ivy league and their own spot in the dance.

It is for this reason that I thought it would be fun to rank the top 10 conferences since this year has been so wide open, and so fun to watch.  My criteria for making this analysis was focused on how many teams are represented by that conference in the top 50 as well as quality wins by those teams against other top opponents.  For reference, there are currently 32 division 1 conferences (33 if you count the independents) with 346 teams in those conferences.  Those teams are vying for 68 spots in the NCAA tournament.

So as we come out of February, and head into March Madness, here is my ranking of the top conferences.  I am breaking this article into two parts, Part I being conferences 10 – 6.  Here goes:

Top Conference #10: Conference USA

The list starts with CUSA ranked at 10 in my top ten.  This conference has two viable teams who will go dancing from this conference in Memphis and UAB.  This conference boasts five teams with 20 wins, (UAB, Memphis, UTEP, Southern Miss, and Marshall).  That said, they are a combined 2-5 against top twenty five talent.  CUSA will be well represented in the NIT with a log jam of teams with impressive season win totals.  When you look at the early brackets, Memphis will come out of the West while UAB will be the 12 seed out of the southeast.

Top Conference #9: Horizon Conference
The home of Milwaukee and Butler and Cleveland State, this is a conference that has made news the last few years with Butler becoming the Gonzaga of sorts for this conference.  Butler used to be an unknown team who has since had some marquis appearances in past tournaments.  This conference will likely send two, potentially three teams to the dance, with Milwaukee and Butler likely coming out of the southwest.  This is a conference of giant killers and will play spoiler to a team like Cincinnati, Kansas or even Duke.  Given how this season has gone, it would not be a surprise to see both Milwaukee and Butler win their early round games, and potentially play each other which is possible given current brackets having both these teams coming out of the same region.   Read the rest of this entry →

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels Are For Real 4

Posted on December 24, 2009 by Richard Marsh
The UNLV Runnin' Rebels are relevant again in college hoops.

The UNLV Runnin' Rebels are relevant again in college hoops.

Not since 20 years ago have the UNLV Mens Basketball Team drawn this much excitement as the decade comes to a screeching halt next Friday. In his sixth years as the coach of the Runnin’Rebels, Lon Kruger and 2009-2010 edition is certainly invoking memories of Greg Anthony, Larry Johnson and Stacy Augman.

Ranked 20th in this week’s ESPN/USA poll the Rebels are in Hawaii this week for the inaugural Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. Being the only ranked team there is not a guarantee to the championship for the 10-1 Rebels. In the other side of the bracket lies USC and St Marys, both teams that have beat ranked opponents this year.

However,if last nights drubbing of SMU is any indication just how strong and how deep these Rebels are, then it looks like it’s going to be a year where UNLV and perhaps even three other Mountain West teams will be joining them in the big dance in March 2010.

Last night the Rebels used 11 men to roll to a one sided 67-53 win over the Mustangs from SMU. The final score was no indication of the beating that took place on the floor.

The Rebels jumped out to a 42-19 halftime lead and never looked back. They increased the lead to 28 midway through the second have and allowed the SMU Mustangs to get as close as 12 points with about 2 minutes to play.

Read the rest of this entry →

Waiting For The Weekend: Power and Greed Edition 1

Posted on November 06, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Power and Greed seem to be running rampant in sports.

Power and Greed seem to be running rampant in sports.

In a week in which the New York Yankees claimed the World Series title it seems fitting to look at greed and power in the world of sports. Unfortunately, it isn’t very hard to find, even in the case of college athletics.

It’s All In The Shoes

Given that his father is synonymous with the company, it is likely that Marcus Jordan had a Nike swoosh on his pacifier as a baby and certainly grew up wearing shoes and clothes designed by the famous sports apparel company.

Now a freshman basketball player at the University of Central Florida (UCF), the young Jordan has become a central figure in a “shoe war” even before playing his first college game.

Seems that UCF has a long-term relationship with adidas and recently agreed on a new 6-year, $3-million deal that called for all UCF athletic teams to wear adidas apparel and equipment.

Evidently, at the time Jordan was being recruited to UCF, he asked if he would be able to wear a Nike shoe endorsed by his father instead of the adidas shoes provided to the school. According to all accounts from UCF, the regional adidas representative gave approval for Marcus to wear Nike shoes during games. I’m willing to bet it was an important component of why he ultimately chose UCF.

Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Larry “The Zonk” Csonka
      January 29, 2022 | 4:43 pm
      Larry Csonka

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the leader of a running attack that was the cornerstone of two Super Bowl Championship teams, including the only undefeated squad in NFL history.

      With his distinctive headgear and a body suited for punishing contact, Larry Csonka looked the part of a fullback and for 11 NFL seasons delivered and took regular punishment on his way to the Hall of Fame.

      Following in the great tradition of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance and Floyd Little, Csonka earned All-American honors at Syracuse while rushing for 2,934 yards.  He began earning a name for himself as the Most Valuable Player of the East–West Shrine Game, the Hula Bowl, and the College All-Star Game.

      Read more »

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