When you have time (long) - An Article on Dynasties

RoarLions1

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May 11, 2012
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The definition of a “sport dynasty” in various dictionaries appears as some variation of; “a team or individual that dominates their sport or league for an extended length of time”… with the key words being domination and extended length of time. What is domination? And what is a worthy length of time before winning becomes a dynasty for a team or individual. Does it include only winning championships, or finishing near the top for that “extended length of time”. In football, for example, in the Bowl Subdivision (formerly 1-A, and before that who knows), the last college team champion for three consecutive years was Minnesota (1934, 1935, 1936), and the last team that won four years running was Michigan (1901, 1902, 1903, 1904) before forward passes were legal, which happened in 1905!! In the modern era, unlike in many Division 1 sports, winning in football in consecutive years is really hard. Yet we surely all agree Alabama is in the midst of a dynasty. Well, maybe not Auburn fans :).

Those are all great points, adding to what will likely be differences of opinion. Yet no one can disagree that all those listed below, and more, were incredible achievements in their own right, something the schools and their fans can be proud. Those listed are all team sports, not individual sports, and all are college teams, not pro teams. There are a few mentions of DII and DIII teams, despite the consensus that they generally (in fact “always” to my thinking) get far less press and notoriety. In some cases what these lower division teams have accomplished is worth noting. Also considered was the time frame, with focus on the modern era, though mention of longer-ago teams sneaks in on occasion. To top off the explanation of this research, the focus was on winning championships, generally.

Of the dynasties researched, one that stands out is that of the John Wooden-coached UCLA Bruins. Wooden won 10 NCAA basketball championships in 12 seasons (1964-1975), including seven straight (1967-1973). These teams had 4 undefeated seasons and 88 consecutive wins. Men’s Basketball became an NCAA sport in 1939 and prior to UCLA’s success only four teams had won consecutive titles, none longer than two in a row. Even since 1975, only twice have college basketball teams won consecutive titles, again only two in a row (Duke in 1991-1992 and Florida in 2006-2007). John Wooden was the right coach for the right team at exactly the right time. His success revolutionized the sport of basketball, and led to recruiting advantages that perpetuated the success. That model can be found throughout all other examples in this article...i.e. that once a program starts winning, lots of high schoolers (and their parents) want to be a part. Two things about the UCLA success; winning is contagious and the coach matters!!

On the Women’s Basketball side, with adoption by the NCAA in 1982, two teams stand out as dynasties. First was the University of Tennessee under Coach Pat Summit. From 1987 to 1998, the Volunteers won six team titles in 12 years, including three straight. There were four years of overlap with the next dynasty, one that continues to this day. From 1995 through the present, the Connecticut Huskies under Gene Auriemma have 11 championships in 22 of those seasons (1995-2016). Four were consecutive (2013-2016). Like the UCLA story above, the women Huskies had players from the far reaches of this country (California, Texas, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Missouri), and even one from Canada. The geographic limits that parents set so they can see their children in person is out-the-window in many cases when it applies to dynasties and the willingness of parents to have their children “play for the best”. Scholarship money helps too!!

With an NCAA start in 1982 for Women’s Soccer, North Carolina was a team ahead of its time. As an emerging sport, North Carolina was winning championships starting in 1979, which continued until 2012. In those years, North Carolina won 22 championships in 34 years, including nine straight (1986-1994). Again the right coach (Anson Dorrance) was in the right place at the right time. Able to recruit nation-wide after early success (see the Connecticut Huskies Women’s Basketball model, noted above), was critical to later success. What differentiated the North Carolina Women’s Soccer success from John Wooden’s Men’s Basketball success, as an example, was that basketball was an established sport with a rich history. It seems North Carolina was able to corner the soccer talent market early, or before the NCAA even started holding championships, and then it snowballed (in a good way) from there. Not to diminish this incredible feat for North Carolina, these are hints that the UCLA success was even more amazing.

Football has, for a very long time been the marquee and flagship sport for many institutions. In fact, at most colleges and universities, other sports could not exist without football revenue. Dynasty-wise, depending on your definition, there were many great coaches throughout history; Walter Camp, H. Yost Fielding, Alonzo Stagg, “Pop” Warner, Knute Rockne, Bernie Bierman, Frank Leahy and others in yesteryear, and “Bear” Bryant, “Woody” Hayes, Bobby Bowden, Pete Carroll, Joe Paterno and the latest and greatest maybe, Nick Saban among many others in more recent times.

Between 1874 and 1909, Yale won 19 championships, while Michigan won four straight from 1901-1904. Many other “dynasties” occurred between then and now, with Alabama’s current streak (Nick Saban as coach) the most profound. From 2009 through 2020, or 12 years, Alabama has won 6 national championships. As one of the more difficult sports (football) to repeat, this is truly a dynasty…and it continues today. Still, dynasties passed through many other universities in the modern era, too many to give a full accounting. They include; Nebraska, USC, Ohio State, Miami (Fla.), Florida State, and Clemson among others. And Alabama had success under “Bear” Bryant too, long before Saban arrived on campus.

Just as recent, an FCS team has had similar football success. North Dakota State, from 2011-2021, won nine championships in those 11 years, including five in a row (2011-2015).

As a newly-approved NCAA sport in 1948, ice hockey championships were dominated by Michigan. Of the first 10 championships, 1948 through 1957, Michigan won six. Included were three in a row (1951-1953). All-time, the Wolverines have won nine championships with both the University of North Dakota and the University of Denver, eight each, hot on their heels. Recent dominance comes from Minnesota-Duluth, with three championships from 2011-present. This sport has been dominated, completely, by schools in northern states, adding another factor in dynasties – geography. To be a bit careful here, it is not fair to say that Michigan in this case has been on a 74 year dynasty. Like all the schools that have three championships or more, say, the dynasties come in fits-and-starts. One could argue here that three years is not an “extended period of time”. It’s a solid point, so maybe ice hockey is more like football in that regard.

Division III Hobart had among the longest NCAA Championship streaks ever, this in Lacrosse, winning 13 titles in 14 years (1980-1994), with 12 in a row. The Division I Lacrosse history is among the most interesting. Starting as an NCAA Championship sport in 1971, several teams have dominated the sport. While the start year, 1971, is much later than NCAA DI Wrestling (1928), it is a similar story, albeit with a few more teams. Syracuse (10 titles), Johns Hopkins (9), Virginia (7), Princeton (6), North Carolina (5), Maryland (3), Cornel (3) and Duke (3) have taken turns dominating this sport in its 52 years of existence. Johns Hopkins, from 1978-1987 (six in 10 years and three in a row) had the best stretch, and is still a great program, but Syracuse has had that championship staying power - winning 10 times from 1988-2009. An 11th was vacated (1990). It could be said that all eight teams listed had dynasties, many of which overlapped. It is interesting that so few teams have been dominant for so long.

On the Women’s Lacrosse side, starting as an NCAA sport in 1982, it was Maryland with the first dynasty, from 1992-2001, with eight titles, and seven consecutive (1995-2001). Then in 2005-2012, Northwestern became queen of the mountain with seven titles, including five consecutive (2005-2009).

While NOT an NCAA-sanctioned sport, Men’s Collegiate Rugby has had one presence since 1980 that is most remarkable and worth noting here. The California Bears, according to their website have won 33 titles from 1980-present. Included in that timeframe were consecutive championships of 4 years (1980-1983), 12 years (1991-2002), and 5 years (2004-2008). They are still a force today in what may be the most dominance seen in the past 43 years for any collegiate sports team, albeit not in an official NCAA sport.

NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving, like Lacrosse above, has been dominated by a handful of teams since its 1937 inception as an NCAA sport. Michigan (12), Ohio State (11), USC (9), Auburn (8), Stanford (8), Cal (7) and Indiana (6) took their turns as champions. Auburn (7, 2003-2009) and Indiana (6, 1968-1973) had the longest consecutive year streaks. Texas however is the current dynasty, with 15 total championships, and five in the last seven years (2015-2022). A most interesting storyline arose during this research. From 1997-2009, the Auburn team won a total of 13 championships, eight for the men, five for the women. They were so dominant that in the 2008 Summer Olympics, Auburn swimmers amassed 18 swimming medals, outpacing many countries total medal count for the entire Olympics!

Which brings me to a final sport, NCAA Division I Wrestling. While several teams have solid histories (Iowa State, Oklahoma, and Minnesota among them), it is Oklahoma State, Iowa and Penn State that could be called dynasties within the context of “an extended period of time” AND in the context of winning championships. Three nearly distinct periods can be seen since 1928, the first official year of an NCAA Championship. Oklahoma State was the first dynasty, with 27 championships from 1928-1971. The Cowboys also interrupted Iowa’s streak, winning in 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. The coaches included; E.C. Gallagher, Art Griffith, Myron Roderick and John Smith for the most part. Among the consecutive year win streaks was four (1928-1931) and seven (1937-1946, no championships held 1943-1945). One could say they got out of the gate early, and clearly dominated the first 44 years of NCAA Wrestling. In the years that Oklahoma State did not win, Iowa State (8 championships) and Oklahoma (7) carved out a consistent niche over the same period.

Then came the University of Iowa’s turn. In 1975, with Gary Kurdelmeier as coach, the Hawkeyes won their first national championship. They won again the following year. Then, after a one year absence, Iowa went on a tear with Coach Dan Gable, winning nine in a row (1978-1986) for the most consecutive championships in NCAA Wrestling history. They didn’t just win, most years the domination was complete, such as 1986 when they won by 73.75 points. In the end, after winning two sets of three consecutive-year championships, Gable would finish with 15 championships (1997 was his last), four more than E.C. Gallagher to lead all coaches all-time. Iowa continues its success to this day. Jim Zalesky went on a three year streak (1998-2000), and Tom Brands would win four (three consecutive, 2008-2010 and again in 2021). The Hawkeyes since 1975 have medaled most years at the NCAA Championships since and including 1975, with the majority of their 48 top four finishes in those 48 years, an amazing run in the modern era.

All during the years noted in the last two paragraphs, the sport of wrestling was, for the most part, dominated by teams from Iowa and Oklahoma. When not winning a championship, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Iowa were perennially well represented in the top four. For example, these schools have 17, 12, 11, and 6 runner-up finishes, respectively, to go with their championship finishes.

In 2009, a team with a solid wrestling tradition would arise from the ashes to set the college wrestling scene afire, and move the wrestling universe eastward. This would become Penn State’s turn as a wrestling dynasty and power, though no one had the inkling in 2009 just how much success the Nittany Lions would have. That first year (2009-2010), was Cael Sanderson’s first at Penn State, and he proved shortly after that he was a great hire. It was another perfect storm; the right coach at the right place (the talent-rich wrestling area comprised not just of Pennsylvania, but neighboring New Jersey, New York, Ohio and more), a supportive administration, supportive fans, and the right time. In fact, along with Sanderson, Assistant Coaches Cody Sanderson (brother to Cael) and Casey Cunningham joined the staff in what has proven to be a synergistic trio, with a combined effect far greater than the sum of their parts. Since that year, Penn State has won nine championships in 11 years (2020 championship was cancelled due to COVID). Among those wins were two sets of four consecutive (2011-2014 and 2016-2019) and the start of what hopefully will be another streak in 2022. These championships, when adding in one from 1953, places Penn State, with 10, solidly third all-time after Oklahoma State’s 34 and Iowa’s 24. The nine recent championships place Cael Sanderson third all-time behind Gable and Gallagher (noted above). And the Lions are not finished!!
 

dunkej01

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Gold Member
Dec 10, 2005
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Roar are you auditioning for something? This is a great read, like the start of a documentary. Maybe we could talk to Willie and commission the first rokfin documentary....It would be a real PSU thing.... complete with actual interviews of Penn Staters.

However documentaries are usually after the run has concluded and since we are about to win a whole bunch more Nattys, Im content that this is just the first post in a series of these for you and us.

nicely done.
 
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Aardvark86

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Jan 23, 2018
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Roar are you auditioning for something? This is a great read, like the start of a documentary. Maybe we could talk to Willie and commission the first rokfin documentary....It would be a real PSU thing.... complete with actual interviews of Penn Staters.

However documentaries are usually after the run has concluded and since we are about to win a whole bunch more Nattys, Im content that this is just the first post in a series of these for you and us.

nicely done.
You should really read it in the John Facenda voice.

What is perhaps more interesting to me is the 'why' of it all. I think that all comes down to culture. Great dynasties -- the Yankees, Bears of the 30's, Steelers, Patriots, Celtics, Canadiens - all come down to having guys that want to win and hate to lose, that do the things necessary to have the team obtain that success, and that insist that the players around them do those things as well.
 

jsn4388

Well-Known Member
Jul 13, 2020
147
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The definition of a “sport dynasty” in various dictionaries appears as some variation of; “a team or individual that dominates their sport or league for an extended length of time”… with the key words being domination and extended length of time. What is domination? And what is a worthy length of time before winning becomes a dynasty for a team or individual. Does it include only winning championships, or finishing near the top for that “extended length of time”. In football, for example, in the Bowl Subdivision (formerly 1-A, and before that who knows), the last college team champion for three consecutive years was Minnesota (1934, 1935, 1936), and the last team that won four years running was Michigan (1901, 1902, 1903, 1904) before forward passes were legal, which happened in 1905!! In the modern era, unlike in many Division 1 sports, winning in football in consecutive years is really hard. Yet we surely all agree Alabama is in the midst of a dynasty. Well, maybe not Auburn fans :).

Those are all great points, adding to what will likely be differences of opinion. Yet no one can disagree that all those listed below, and more, were incredible achievements in their own right, something the schools and their fans can be proud. Those listed are all team sports, not individual sports, and all are college teams, not pro teams. There are a few mentions of DII and DIII teams, despite the consensus that they generally (in fact “always” to my thinking) get far less press and notoriety. In some cases what these lower division teams have accomplished is worth noting. Also considered was the time frame, with focus on the modern era, though mention of longer-ago teams sneaks in on occasion. To top off the explanation of this research, the focus was on winning championships, generally.

Of the dynasties researched, one that stands out is that of the John Wooden-coached UCLA Bruins. Wooden won 10 NCAA basketball championships in 12 seasons (1964-1975), including seven straight (1967-1973). These teams had 4 undefeated seasons and 88 consecutive wins. Men’s Basketball became an NCAA sport in 1939 and prior to UCLA’s success only four teams had won consecutive titles, none longer than two in a row. Even since 1975, only twice have college basketball teams won consecutive titles, again only two in a row (Duke in 1991-1992 and Florida in 2006-2007). John Wooden was the right coach for the right team at exactly the right time. His success revolutionized the sport of basketball, and led to recruiting advantages that perpetuated the success. That model can be found throughout all other examples in this article...i.e. that once a program starts winning, lots of high schoolers (and their parents) want to be a part. Two things about the UCLA success; winning is contagious and the coach matters!!

On the Women’s Basketball side, with adoption by the NCAA in 1982, two teams stand out as dynasties. First was the University of Tennessee under Coach Pat Summit. From 1987 to 1998, the Volunteers won six team titles in 12 years, including three straight. There were four years of overlap with the next dynasty, one that continues to this day. From 1995 through the present, the Connecticut Huskies under Gene Auriemma have 11 championships in 22 of those seasons (1995-2016). Four were consecutive (2013-2016). Like the UCLA story above, the women Huskies had players from the far reaches of this country (California, Texas, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Missouri), and even one from Canada. The geographic limits that parents set so they can see their children in person is out-the-window in many cases when it applies to dynasties and the willingness of parents to have their children “play for the best”. Scholarship money helps too!!

With an NCAA start in 1982 for Women’s Soccer, North Carolina was a team ahead of its time. As an emerging sport, North Carolina was winning championships starting in 1979, which continued until 2012. In those years, North Carolina won 22 championships in 34 years, including nine straight (1986-1994). Again the right coach (Anson Dorrance) was in the right place at the right time. Able to recruit nation-wide after early success (see the Connecticut Huskies Women’s Basketball model, noted above), was critical to later success. What differentiated the North Carolina Women’s Soccer success from John Wooden’s Men’s Basketball success, as an example, was that basketball was an established sport with a rich history. It seems North Carolina was able to corner the soccer talent market early, or before the NCAA even started holding championships, and then it snowballed (in a good way) from there. Not to diminish this incredible feat for North Carolina, these are hints that the UCLA success was even more amazing.

Football has, for a very long time been the marquee and flagship sport for many institutions. In fact, at most colleges and universities, other sports could not exist without football revenue. Dynasty-wise, depending on your definition, there were many great coaches throughout history; Walter Camp, H. Yost Fielding, Alonzo Stagg, “Pop” Warner, Knute Rockne, Bernie Bierman, Frank Leahy and others in yesteryear, and “Bear” Bryant, “Woody” Hayes, Bobby Bowden, Pete Carroll, Joe Paterno and the latest and greatest maybe, Nick Saban among many others in more recent times.

Between 1874 and 1909, Yale won 19 championships, while Michigan won four straight from 1901-1904. Many other “dynasties” occurred between then and now, with Alabama’s current streak (Nick Saban as coach) the most profound. From 2009 through 2020, or 12 years, Alabama has won 6 national championships. As one of the more difficult sports (football) to repeat, this is truly a dynasty…and it continues today. Still, dynasties passed through many other universities in the modern era, too many to give a full accounting. They include; Nebraska, USC, Ohio State, Miami (Fla.), Florida State, and Clemson among others. And Alabama had success under “Bear” Bryant too, long before Saban arrived on campus.

Just as recent, an FCS team has had similar football success. North Dakota State, from 2011-2021, won nine championships in those 11 years, including five in a row (2011-2015).

As a newly-approved NCAA sport in 1948, ice hockey championships were dominated by Michigan. Of the first 10 championships, 1948 through 1957, Michigan won six. Included were three in a row (1951-1953). All-time, the Wolverines have won nine championships with both the University of North Dakota and the University of Denver, eight each, hot on their heels. Recent dominance comes from Minnesota-Duluth, with three championships from 2011-present. This sport has been dominated, completely, by schools in northern states, adding another factor in dynasties – geography. To be a bit careful here, it is not fair to say that Michigan in this case has been on a 74 year dynasty. Like all the schools that have three championships or more, say, the dynasties come in fits-and-starts. One could argue here that three years is not an “extended period of time”. It’s a solid point, so maybe ice hockey is more like football in that regard.

Division III Hobart had among the longest NCAA Championship streaks ever, this in Lacrosse, winning 13 titles in 14 years (1980-1994), with 12 in a row. The Division I Lacrosse history is among the most interesting. Starting as an NCAA Championship sport in 1971, several teams have dominated the sport. While the start year, 1971, is much later than NCAA DI Wrestling (1928), it is a similar story, albeit with a few more teams. Syracuse (10 titles), Johns Hopkins (9), Virginia (7), Princeton (6), North Carolina (5), Maryland (3), Cornel (3) and Duke (3) have taken turns dominating this sport in its 52 years of existence. Johns Hopkins, from 1978-1987 (six in 10 years and three in a row) had the best stretch, and is still a great program, but Syracuse has had that championship staying power - winning 10 times from 1988-2009. An 11th was vacated (1990). It could be said that all eight teams listed had dynasties, many of which overlapped. It is interesting that so few teams have been dominant for so long.

On the Women’s Lacrosse side, starting as an NCAA sport in 1982, it was Maryland with the first dynasty, from 1992-2001, with eight titles, and seven consecutive (1995-2001). Then in 2005-2012, Northwestern became queen of the mountain with seven titles, including five consecutive (2005-2009).

While NOT an NCAA-sanctioned sport, Men’s Collegiate Rugby has had one presence since 1980 that is most remarkable and worth noting here. The California Bears, according to their website have won 33 titles from 1980-present. Included in that timeframe were consecutive championships of 4 years (1980-1983), 12 years (1991-2002), and 5 years (2004-2008). They are still a force today in what may be the most dominance seen in the past 43 years for any collegiate sports team, albeit not in an official NCAA sport.

NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving, like Lacrosse above, has been dominated by a handful of teams since its 1937 inception as an NCAA sport. Michigan (12), Ohio State (11), USC (9), Auburn (8), Stanford (8), Cal (7) and Indiana (6) took their turns as champions. Auburn (7, 2003-2009) and Indiana (6, 1968-1973) had the longest consecutive year streaks. Texas however is the current dynasty, with 15 total championships, and five in the last seven years (2015-2022). A most interesting storyline arose during this research. From 1997-2009, the Auburn team won a total of 13 championships, eight for the men, five for the women. They were so dominant that in the 2008 Summer Olympics, Auburn swimmers amassed 18 swimming medals, outpacing many countries total medal count for the entire Olympics!

Which brings me to a final sport, NCAA Division I Wrestling. While several teams have solid histories (Iowa State, Oklahoma, and Minnesota among them), it is Oklahoma State, Iowa and Penn State that could be called dynasties within the context of “an extended period of time” AND in the context of winning championships. Three nearly distinct periods can be seen since 1928, the first official year of an NCAA Championship. Oklahoma State was the first dynasty, with 27 championships from 1928-1971. The Cowboys also interrupted Iowa’s streak, winning in 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. The coaches included; E.C. Gallagher, Art Griffith, Myron Roderick and John Smith for the most part. Among the consecutive year win streaks was four (1928-1931) and seven (1937-1946, no championships held 1943-1945). One could say they got out of the gate early, and clearly dominated the first 44 years of NCAA Wrestling. In the years that Oklahoma State did not win, Iowa State (8 championships) and Oklahoma (7) carved out a consistent niche over the same period.

Then came the University of Iowa’s turn. In 1975, with Gary Kurdelmeier as coach, the Hawkeyes won their first national championship. They won again the following year. Then, after a one year absence, Iowa went on a tear with Coach Dan Gable, winning nine in a row (1978-1986) for the most consecutive championships in NCAA Wrestling history. They didn’t just win, most years the domination was complete, such as 1986 when they won by 73.75 points. In the end, after winning two sets of three consecutive-year championships, Gable would finish with 15 championships (1997 was his last), four more than E.C. Gallagher to lead all coaches all-time. Iowa continues its success to this day. Jim Zalesky went on a three year streak (1998-2000), and Tom Brands would win four (three consecutive, 2008-2010 and again in 2021). The Hawkeyes since 1975 have medaled most years at the NCAA Championships since and including 1975, with the majority of their 48 top four finishes in those 48 years, an amazing run in the modern era.

All during the years noted in the last two paragraphs, the sport of wrestling was, for the most part, dominated by teams from Iowa and Oklahoma. When not winning a championship, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Iowa were perennially well represented in the top four. For example, these schools have 17, 12, 11, and 6 runner-up finishes, respectively, to go with their championship finishes.

In 2009, a team with a solid wrestling tradition would arise from the ashes to set the college wrestling scene afire, and move the wrestling universe eastward. This would become Penn State’s turn as a wrestling dynasty and power, though no one had the inkling in 2009 just how much success the Nittany Lions would have. That first year (2009-2010), was Cael Sanderson’s first at Penn State, and he proved shortly after that he was a great hire. It was another perfect storm; the right coach at the right place (the talent-rich wrestling area comprised not just of Pennsylvania, but neighboring New Jersey, New York, Ohio and more), a supportive administration, supportive fans, and the right time. In fact, along with Sanderson, Assistant Coaches Cody Sanderson (brother to Cael) and Casey Cunningham joined the staff in what has proven to be a synergistic trio, with a combined effect far greater than the sum of their parts. Since that year, Penn State has won nine championships in 11 years (2020 championship was cancelled due to COVID). Among those wins were two sets of four consecutive (2011-2014 and 2016-2019) and the start of what hopefully will be another streak in 2022. These championships, when adding in one from 1953, places Penn State, with 10, solidly third all-time after Oklahoma State’s 34 and Iowa’s 24. The nine recent championships place Cael Sanderson third all-time behind Gable and Gallagher (noted above). And the Lions are not finished!!
Why no love for Russ Rose? That's definitely a dynasty if there is one in women's volleyball.
 

SLUPSU

Well-Known Member
Aug 5, 2018
4,435
2,530
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Why no love for Russ Rose? That's definitely a dynasty if there is one in women's volleyball.
Also, Stanford women's tennis, there's a thread on sports dynasties on the main board, I posted this about a week ago....

"For 37 years, from 1982 to 2019, the Stanford women's tennis team won 20 NC's. The longest streak of no championships during that time was 5 years".... very similar to NC's women's soccer run.
 

baccafarmer

Well-Known Member
Aug 20, 2018
291
524
1
Brumley Gap, VA
The definition of a “sport dynasty” in various dictionaries appears as some variation of; “a team or individual that dominates their sport or league for an extended length of time”… with the key words being domination and extended length of time. What is domination? And what is a worthy length of time before winning becomes a dynasty for a team or individual. Does it include only winning championships, or finishing near the top for that “extended length of time”. In football, for example, in the Bowl Subdivision (formerly 1-A, and before that who knows), the last college team champion for three consecutive years was Minnesota (1934, 1935, 1936), and the last team that won four years running was Michigan (1901, 1902, 1903, 1904) before forward passes were legal, which happened in 1905!! In the modern era, unlike in many Division 1 sports, winning in football in consecutive years is really hard. Yet we surely all agree Alabama is in the midst of a dynasty. Well, maybe not Auburn fans :).

Those are all great points, adding to what will likely be differences of opinion. Yet no one can disagree that all those listed below, and more, were incredible achievements in their own right, something the schools and their fans can be proud. Those listed are all team sports, not individual sports, and all are college teams, not pro teams. There are a few mentions of DII and DIII teams, despite the consensus that they generally (in fact “always” to my thinking) get far less press and notoriety. In some cases what these lower division teams have accomplished is worth noting. Also considered was the time frame, with focus on the modern era, though mention of longer-ago teams sneaks in on occasion. To top off the explanation of this research, the focus was on winning championships, generally.

Of the dynasties researched, one that stands out is that of the John Wooden-coached UCLA Bruins. Wooden won 10 NCAA basketball championships in 12 seasons (1964-1975), including seven straight (1967-1973). These teams had 4 undefeated seasons and 88 consecutive wins. Men’s Basketball became an NCAA sport in 1939 and prior to UCLA’s success only four teams had won consecutive titles, none longer than two in a row. Even since 1975, only twice have college basketball teams won consecutive titles, again only two in a row (Duke in 1991-1992 and Florida in 2006-2007). John Wooden was the right coach for the right team at exactly the right time. His success revolutionized the sport of basketball, and led to recruiting advantages that perpetuated the success. That model can be found throughout all other examples in this article...i.e. that once a program starts winning, lots of high schoolers (and their parents) want to be a part. Two things about the UCLA success; winning is contagious and the coach matters!!

On the Women’s Basketball side, with adoption by the NCAA in 1982, two teams stand out as dynasties. First was the University of Tennessee under Coach Pat Summit. From 1987 to 1998, the Volunteers won six team titles in 12 years, including three straight. There were four years of overlap with the next dynasty, one that continues to this day. From 1995 through the present, the Connecticut Huskies under Gene Auriemma have 11 championships in 22 of those seasons (1995-2016). Four were consecutive (2013-2016). Like the UCLA story above, the women Huskies had players from the far reaches of this country (California, Texas, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Missouri), and even one from Canada. The geographic limits that parents set so they can see their children in person is out-the-window in many cases when it applies to dynasties and the willingness of parents to have their children “play for the best”. Scholarship money helps too!!

With an NCAA start in 1982 for Women’s Soccer, North Carolina was a team ahead of its time. As an emerging sport, North Carolina was winning championships starting in 1979, which continued until 2012. In those years, North Carolina won 22 championships in 34 years, including nine straight (1986-1994). Again the right coach (Anson Dorrance) was in the right place at the right time. Able to recruit nation-wide after early success (see the Connecticut Huskies Women’s Basketball model, noted above), was critical to later success. What differentiated the North Carolina Women’s Soccer success from John Wooden’s Men’s Basketball success, as an example, was that basketball was an established sport with a rich history. It seems North Carolina was able to corner the soccer talent market early, or before the NCAA even started holding championships, and then it snowballed (in a good way) from there. Not to diminish this incredible feat for North Carolina, these are hints that the UCLA success was even more amazing.

Football has, for a very long time been the marquee and flagship sport for many institutions. In fact, at most colleges and universities, other sports could not exist without football revenue. Dynasty-wise, depending on your definition, there were many great coaches throughout history; Walter Camp, H. Yost Fielding, Alonzo Stagg, “Pop” Warner, Knute Rockne, Bernie Bierman, Frank Leahy and others in yesteryear, and “Bear” Bryant, “Woody” Hayes, Bobby Bowden, Pete Carroll, Joe Paterno and the latest and greatest maybe, Nick Saban among many others in more recent times.

Between 1874 and 1909, Yale won 19 championships, while Michigan won four straight from 1901-1904. Many other “dynasties” occurred between then and now, with Alabama’s current streak (Nick Saban as coach) the most profound. From 2009 through 2020, or 12 years, Alabama has won 6 national championships. As one of the more difficult sports (football) to repeat, this is truly a dynasty…and it continues today. Still, dynasties passed through many other universities in the modern era, too many to give a full accounting. They include; Nebraska, USC, Ohio State, Miami (Fla.), Florida State, and Clemson among others. And Alabama had success under “Bear” Bryant too, long before Saban arrived on campus.

Just as recent, an FCS team has had similar football success. North Dakota State, from 2011-2021, won nine championships in those 11 years, including five in a row (2011-2015).

As a newly-approved NCAA sport in 1948, ice hockey championships were dominated by Michigan. Of the first 10 championships, 1948 through 1957, Michigan won six. Included were three in a row (1951-1953). All-time, the Wolverines have won nine championships with both the University of North Dakota and the University of Denver, eight each, hot on their heels. Recent dominance comes from Minnesota-Duluth, with three championships from 2011-present. This sport has been dominated, completely, by schools in northern states, adding another factor in dynasties – geography. To be a bit careful here, it is not fair to say that Michigan in this case has been on a 74 year dynasty. Like all the schools that have three championships or more, say, the dynasties come in fits-and-starts. One could argue here that three years is not an “extended period of time”. It’s a solid point, so maybe ice hockey is more like football in that regard.

Division III Hobart had among the longest NCAA Championship streaks ever, this in Lacrosse, winning 13 titles in 14 years (1980-1994), with 12 in a row. The Division I Lacrosse history is among the most interesting. Starting as an NCAA Championship sport in 1971, several teams have dominated the sport. While the start year, 1971, is much later than NCAA DI Wrestling (1928), it is a similar story, albeit with a few more teams. Syracuse (10 titles), Johns Hopkins (9), Virginia (7), Princeton (6), North Carolina (5), Maryland (3), Cornel (3) and Duke (3) have taken turns dominating this sport in its 52 years of existence. Johns Hopkins, from 1978-1987 (six in 10 years and three in a row) had the best stretch, and is still a great program, but Syracuse has had that championship staying power - winning 10 times from 1988-2009. An 11th was vacated (1990). It could be said that all eight teams listed had dynasties, many of which overlapped. It is interesting that so few teams have been dominant for so long.

On the Women’s Lacrosse side, starting as an NCAA sport in 1982, it was Maryland with the first dynasty, from 1992-2001, with eight titles, and seven consecutive (1995-2001). Then in 2005-2012, Northwestern became queen of the mountain with seven titles, including five consecutive (2005-2009).

While NOT an NCAA-sanctioned sport, Men’s Collegiate Rugby has had one presence since 1980 that is most remarkable and worth noting here. The California Bears, according to their website have won 33 titles from 1980-present. Included in that timeframe were consecutive championships of 4 years (1980-1983), 12 years (1991-2002), and 5 years (2004-2008). They are still a force today in what may be the most dominance seen in the past 43 years for any collegiate sports team, albeit not in an official NCAA sport.

NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving, like Lacrosse above, has been dominated by a handful of teams since its 1937 inception as an NCAA sport. Michigan (12), Ohio State (11), USC (9), Auburn (8), Stanford (8), Cal (7) and Indiana (6) took their turns as champions. Auburn (7, 2003-2009) and Indiana (6, 1968-1973) had the longest consecutive year streaks. Texas however is the current dynasty, with 15 total championships, and five in the last seven years (2015-2022). A most interesting storyline arose during this research. From 1997-2009, the Auburn team won a total of 13 championships, eight for the men, five for the women. They were so dominant that in the 2008 Summer Olympics, Auburn swimmers amassed 18 swimming medals, outpacing many countries total medal count for the entire Olympics!

Which brings me to a final sport, NCAA Division I Wrestling. While several teams have solid histories (Iowa State, Oklahoma, and Minnesota among them), it is Oklahoma State, Iowa and Penn State that could be called dynasties within the context of “an extended period of time” AND in the context of winning championships. Three nearly distinct periods can be seen since 1928, the first official year of an NCAA Championship. Oklahoma State was the first dynasty, with 27 championships from 1928-1971. The Cowboys also interrupted Iowa’s streak, winning in 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. The coaches included; E.C. Gallagher, Art Griffith, Myron Roderick and John Smith for the most part. Among the consecutive year win streaks was four (1928-1931) and seven (1937-1946, no championships held 1943-1945). One could say they got out of the gate early, and clearly dominated the first 44 years of NCAA Wrestling. In the years that Oklahoma State did not win, Iowa State (8 championships) and Oklahoma (7) carved out a consistent niche over the same period.

Then came the University of Iowa’s turn. In 1975, with Gary Kurdelmeier as coach, the Hawkeyes won their first national championship. They won again the following year. Then, after a one year absence, Iowa went on a tear with Coach Dan Gable, winning nine in a row (1978-1986) for the most consecutive championships in NCAA Wrestling history. They didn’t just win, most years the domination was complete, such as 1986 when they won by 73.75 points. In the end, after winning two sets of three consecutive-year championships, Gable would finish with 15 championships (1997 was his last), four more than E.C. Gallagher to lead all coaches all-time. Iowa continues its success to this day. Jim Zalesky went on a three year streak (1998-2000), and Tom Brands would win four (three consecutive, 2008-2010 and again in 2021). The Hawkeyes since 1975 have medaled most years at the NCAA Championships since and including 1975, with the majority of their 48 top four finishes in those 48 years, an amazing run in the modern era.

All during the years noted in the last two paragraphs, the sport of wrestling was, for the most part, dominated by teams from Iowa and Oklahoma. When not winning a championship, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Iowa were perennially well represented in the top four. For example, these schools have 17, 12, 11, and 6 runner-up finishes, respectively, to go with their championship finishes.

In 2009, a team with a solid wrestling tradition would arise from the ashes to set the college wrestling scene afire, and move the wrestling universe eastward. This would become Penn State’s turn as a wrestling dynasty and power, though no one had the inkling in 2009 just how much success the Nittany Lions would have. That first year (2009-2010), was Cael Sanderson’s first at Penn State, and he proved shortly after that he was a great hire. It was another perfect storm; the right coach at the right place (the talent-rich wrestling area comprised not just of Pennsylvania, but neighboring New Jersey, New York, Ohio and more), a supportive administration, supportive fans, and the right time. In fact, along with Sanderson, Assistant Coaches Cody Sanderson (brother to Cael) and Casey Cunningham joined the staff in what has proven to be a synergistic trio, with a combined effect far greater than the sum of their parts. Since that year, Penn State has won nine championships in 11 years (2020 championship was cancelled due to COVID). Among those wins were two sets of four consecutive (2011-2014 and 2016-2019) and the start of what hopefully will be another streak in 2022. These championships, when adding in one from 1953, places Penn State, with 10, solidly third all-time after Oklahoma State’s 34 and Iowa’s 24. The nine recent championships place Cael Sanderson third all-time behind Gable and Gallagher (noted above). And the Lions are not finished!!
Well crafted! Excellent summary! Thanks!
 

PSUAllTheWay

Well-Known Member
Jan 18, 2015
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Probably the best long piece I've read on this forum! Very well done. I'd love it if Cael and Co rattled off 7 more to surpass Gable's total before Cael decides to hang it up. If we go on another consecutive title run he could close the gap quickly.

P.S. I believe the forward pass was legalized in 1906 and you might want to fix that just for the sake of accuracy.