As you may have noticed, we don’t have much Rugby coverage around here at the California Golden Blogs. It’s not that we don’t care; it’s just that we don’t have anything particularly interesting to say about their continued excellence. Still, a national championship is a National Championship, and you sure don’t see one of those around every day at Cal. It’s something to be celebrated — perhaps one of those margaritas you toss back tonight could be for our beloved ruggers?
Anyway, I thought a fitting tribute for our Bears might be to compare Jack Clark’s record with the greatest dynasties in American sporting history, just to see how these guys stack up. For the record, Saturday’s 59-7 smackdown of BYU was the Bears’s:
* 5th consecutive National Title
* 17th Title in the last 18 years
* 20th in Jack Clark’s 25 years as the Head Coach of the Bears
* 24th overall title (since a championship was first staged in 1980)
It’s also worth noting that, before the Bears lost in the 2003 semifinal, they had won the previous 12 consecutive championships. In his 25 years of coaching, Jack Clark has compiled a 440-66-5 record, good for an .870 winning percentage. Frankly, these accomplishments are just ridiculous. I don’t know how the Bears live up to these impossible standards year after year, but they do. So, how does this compare to America’s greatest dynasties?
NFL - Probably the greatest dynasty in pro football was the Vince Lombardi-led Green Bay Packers of the ’60s. Between the ‘61 and ‘67 seasons, the Packers won 5 NFL titles, the last three in a row, including the first two Super Bowls. In those seven seasons, the Packers ran up an 83-20-4 record, good for an .806 winning percentage. Mighty impressive, but neither as lengthy nor as dominant as Cal has been.
NHL - The Montreal Canadiens were the most dominant professional hockey team in North America for much of the latter twentieth century. Between 1956 and 1979, they took home the Stanley Cup 15 out of the 24 times it was contested, including 5 in a row between 1956 and 1960. Ridiculous? Sure. Better than our Bears? Hardly.
MLB - What name says domination over a sport more than the New York Yankees. Still, the Bronx Bombers’ longest championship streak was 5, between 1949 and 1953, though they did take home 12 of the 18 titles between 1936 and 1953, and a ridiculous 20 of the 40 world championships between 1923 and 1962. Unfair? Perhaps, but still not as good as our Bears, who needed just 25 years to get Jack Clark his 20th championship.
NBA - Of course, the longest championship streak in American professional sports belongs to the Boston Celtics, who put together an unbelievable 8 consecutive titles between 1959 and 1966. They also captured 11 of the 13 titles between 1957 and 1969, and 16 of 30 between 1957 and 1986. Anyone else think this should more than make up for all those years of Red Sox futility? Still, even the Celtics’ 8 straight titles fell 4 short of what Cal accomplished between 1991 and 2002.
NCAA Basketball - When you think of dominant college teams, you think of John Wooden and the UCLA Bruins. Between 1967 and 1973, the Bruins took home 7 consecutive titles, and 10 of 12 between 1964 and 1975. During those 12 years, the Bruins ran up a 335-22 record, good for an unreal .938 winning percentage. OK, I’ll concede that the Bruins may have been as dominant as our ruggers (though I couldn’t find a winning percentage for the years of the 12 consecutive titles), but their dominant period has been for less than half the time of our Bears.
NCAA Football - Of course, the NCAA doesn’t sponsor an official championship, but even unofficial ones are hard to string together. You have to go back to Minnesota in 1934-36 to find a team with a legitimate claim to even 3 consecutive titles. Of course, if you want to go back to the 1800’s, you’ll find Yale. All titles in this era have been awarded retroactively, but between 1874 and 1894, Yale went 170-7-6, good for a .966 winning percentage, winning pieces of as many as 16 titles, depending on who you ask. Of course, some of those years involved playing only 5 games or so, but if you’re looking for a dynasty to rival the Bears, I think you’re going to have to go with 19th century Yale football.
Other NCAA sports - The record for the longest championship streak among an Division I sports belongs to Arkansas‘ Indoor Track and Field team, which took home 12 consecutive titles between 1984 and 1995. That would certainly match the Bears. Among all Divisions, the record is a mind-boggling 28 years, belonging to the Men’s Swimming and Diving team of Kenyon College, a Division III school in Gambier, Ohio. That streak, by the way is still active. Also, their Women’s Swimming and Diving team holds the women’s record, at 17 years, a streak that lasted until 2001. Listen, that’s amazingly ridiculous and all, but I wonder if anyone at Kenyon ever thought, "You know, perhaps we should try competing in Division II next year. You know, just to see?"
In any case, it’s clear that Cal’s Rugby team is ridiculously awesome. Let’s enjoy it while we can, because it may not be here tomorrow. So, my final thought:
You gotta think they’d play this song at stadiums a whole lot less if it came with video…