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Elite in both basketball and football? When has it been done recently?

Corey Nichols, a fellow KSR writer, wrote a post a few days ago talking about whether or not a school like Kentucky, where basketball has always been first AND with a coach like John Calipari, could also realistically support a top-notch head football coach. I’m not here to argue whether or not such a thing could ever be possible at the University of Kentucky. I’m also not here to dive into whether or not football is treated as a second class citizen at the University of Kentucky. I’m not here to ask for basketball to be put on the back burner. My intentions are simply to explore if and when a school has recently managed to be elite in both men’s basketball and football. I will limit myself to the more recent history, mostly exploring the last 15 years. Nothing that I unveil should come as a big mystery for many who pay attention to both college basketball and football, but sometimes it’s nice to see things laid out a bit more clearly. Some food for thought…

In the last 2 years:

2011-2012 College Football Final Top 10: LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon, Arkansas, Boise State, Kansas State, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

*Of those 10 teams, only 3 were in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament field of 64: Wisconsin, Kansas State and Alabama. Wisconsin made the Sweet 16. Alabama lost in their opening game. Kansas State lost in the round of 32.

2010-2011 College Football Final Top 10: Auburn, Oregon, TCU, Stanford, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Michigan State and Boise State.

*Again, of those 10 teams, only 3 were in the NCAA men’s basketball field of 64. Ohio State was the favorite heading into the tournament, but fell in the Sweet 16 (what up Josh Harrellson?). Wisconsin made the Sweet 16. Michigan State lost in the first round.


College Football BCS Champions since 1998:

Tennessee, Florida State, Oklahoma, Miami (Fla), Ohio State, LSU, USC (well…), Texas, Florida, Alabama and Auburn.

*Of the 11 schools mentioned, since 1998 only 2 have performed near the top of the college basketball world on a consistent basis: Florida and Ohio State. Florida pulled off the big coup, winning a national championship in both sports in 2006. Of the schools listed, Texas and Tennessee would perhaps fall into the next tier of teams who have consistently been in the conversation for the top 25 in college basketball since 1998.


College Basketball National Champions since 1998:

Kentucky, UCONN, Michigan State, Duke, Maryland, Syracuse, North Carolina, Florida and Kansas

*The only common school on both the football and basketball lists is Florida. Of the schools to win a national basketball championship since 1998, I would only describe Florida as an “elite” football school. Michigan State, Kansas and UCONN have had successful years in football in their respective conferences, though not considered to be “elite”.


Overall recent football record of “elite” college basketball schools

Kentucky (since 1998):  75 -98

North Carolina (since 1998):  65-93

Duke (since 1999): 25-114

Kansas (since 1997): 76-101


Current AP Top 25 in college football:

Alabama, Oregon, LSU, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina, Kansas State, Stanford, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Florida, Texas, USC, Ohio State, TCU, Oklahoma, Clemson, Oregon State, Louisville, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Rutgers, Boise State and Baylor.

*How many of the 25 schools listed were really good in college basketball last season? Florida? Ohio State? Louisville? Michigan State? Baylor? That’s 5 of the top 25, or 20% for those who prefer percentages. Of the top 10 programs in college football this season, only 1 was a legitimate NCAA tournament contender in basketball last year: Florida State. Coincidentally, how many of the top 25 schools listed would you call “basketball schools,” or schools where basketball is given the most attention/priority? Michigan State and Louisville are the only 2 I see on the list that stand out as possibilities.


In the last 15 years, a number of schools have found a way to be respectable in both football and men’s college basketball. A handful have been consistently strong in both (Ohio State, Florida, Texas, Wisconsin). But when you think of the best of the best in men’s college basketball– the top 4 programs as of late (Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Kansas), none of those schools are the “elite” in college football. None of them are even in the very good category.

A rare year in which both teams are strong happens from time to time as well. Baylor was a perfect example last year. Louisville looks primed to join that category this year. Recent history shows us though that it’s just not very likely. You can point to a few exceptions, but the common trend does lend to the thought that being elite in both men’s basketball and football is a difficult task– and one which hasn’t been achieved very often in the last 15 years.

Elite in both college basketball and college football…Can it be done? Yes. Just look at Florida in 2006.  But is it possible for that high level in both to be sustained over a period of time?

Article written by Ally Tucker

I once successfully requested "The Wobble" to be played 6 times at one wedding.

24 Comments for Elite in both basketball and football? When has it been done recently?

  1. Deej
    9:46 pm September 25, 2012 Permalink

    Florida, Ohio, and Texas are 3 of the 4 (California is the other) largest producing states of college football talent in the country. THAT is why they’re able to be successful in both sports. All 3 of those are football schools first, but have a HUGE in state base of talent (both basketball and football) and have hired excellent basketball coaches to push them to the top.

    2 of those 3 (Texas and Ohio St) are the 2 largest universities in the country and have the 2 largest athletic budgets in the country as well.

    It is nearly impossible for a basketball school (UK, Duke, Kansas, UNC) to produce a premier football team. It might happen once every 10 or 15 years when the school makes a GREAT hire, but as soon as that happens you can bet that coach is going to take a BETTER JOB AT A FOOTBALL SCHOOL.

  2. Ally Tucker
    9:53 pm September 25, 2012 Permalink

    Deej- I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. Really good/interesting points.

  3. tdogg40330
    9:58 pm September 25, 2012 Permalink

    Most UK football fans dont expect to be “elite”. Just asking for a team fun to watch, win
    6-8 games and be competitive. Ever now and then slip up and beat a UGA or UF type team. Maybe
    I’m wrong but thats how i feel about the UK football fan base.

  4. Ally Tucker
    10:07 pm September 25, 2012 Permalink

    3— I’m with you and agree that most feel that way. I was curious to see how the history lined up though.

  5. Duke Sucks
    10:14 pm September 25, 2012 Permalink

    #3.I don’t think your wrong I think you spot on. Most are realistic and know we will never be Bama. just as we don’t think Bama should pass us in Basketball. We do think we should be better then WKU. We should be able to compete in the SEC. Bye compete I mean atlest look like we belong on the field with other SEC teams. No way we can’t be on par with Miss. state and teams like that. I don’t think Missu is a better job then UK. You can make all the excuses for Joker you want, but this is on him. Most of the BBN liked Joker and wanted him to win. He hasn’t and the fail is on him and him alone I wish the excuses would stop. The support is their for UK to compete in the SEC. Parcells said UK came with a serious offer so I’m sure Barnhart would pay a premium for a top flight. Coach.

  6. Bomani Mo Problems
    10:14 pm September 25, 2012 Permalink

    This was like a BTI article except it was well written. Good job.

  7. Malger
    10:37 pm September 25, 2012 Permalink

    Elite- I wouldn’t expect that. But you have to define elite as a team would compete for a N.C. Every year. My expectation for th football program is to be respectable and able to compete with the teams in our conference.
    Fact is that UK is a laughing stock in the SEC when speaking of football. This team will probably be winless in conference. It is not that I believe we should beat the Tide every year, but when is the last time UK had a winning conference record? The answer to that is truly shameful. There is no acceptable excuse for that.

  8. UKBlue
    10:42 pm September 25, 2012 Permalink

    First it depends on your or the definition of Elite. Technically & historically NO School has a record of being Elite in both football & basketball. The problem is & will always be one thing, the almighty dollar. It is way too expensive especially in today dollars for a university to be able to spend the money needed to be so called Elite in both sports. Schools have to pick their battles, and most always pick football, mainly because of their history & now because of the TV revenue. This is what makes UK, Duke, UNC, Kansas, and 60’s & 70’S UCLA different, these schools choose basketball. As conferences grow tighter & the conference TV money gets bigger, the gap is going to get even bigger between football & basketball elitism. Yes programs may have their occasional up years in both sports like Florida did for a short period, but historically, there are no Elite football & basketball schools at the same time.

  9. UKBlue1!
    10:44 pm September 25, 2012 Permalink

    It is possible to do it at UK. UK fans have supported some rotten teams. We have been top 30 in the Nation in football attendance several times in the past 40 years. We have a great fan base that travels well for Music City bowls, Outback bowls ect. If the right coach is hired, Commonwealth Stadium would have to be expanded again. I think a couple of 8-4 seasons would lead to huge donations. It can be done. UK fans have supported some crappy teams. I will be sitting in the stands Saturday, watching my team get their teeth kicked with about another 45-50k people. Go Big Blue!

  10. Deej
    11:03 pm September 25, 2012 Permalink

    I agree with tdogg that fans are not expecting us to be the next Alabama, but what are the expectations? It is going to be extremely hard to become much better than a 6 win team, given the conference we play in. But we can become a 6 or 7 win team if we establish a solid foundation, but right now we are a joke.

    1. COMMITMENT TO FOOTBALL: We can all rightfully question whether the current administration is truly committed to establishing football relevancy. But I can tell you that offering Mike Leach $3m a year to come here isn’t going to solve UK’s problems, because he’s set up for failure. If we are going to commit to football, we MUST have new facilities. This is the number #1 reason we can’t attract a decent coach (let alone players). Our training facilities are the worst in the SEC and we also have a dump of a stadium. I know that we just spent money on ribbon lights and scoreboards, but that is a bandaid on this bullet hole. So as fans where is your commitment to football? Why does Kentucky rate dead last in the SEC in football donation dollars. Why is it that we complain about ticket prices and K-Fund costs (which are the lowest in the SEC) when we are just simply getting what we pay for. If you want to build a successful program it starts with money, both state and fan support. Are you committed to paying several thousand dollars for donations and ticket prices, PER TICKET? That is the cost of relevancy. Either pay it or stop complaining. And yes you have to pay it before we’ll become good, that’s why it’s called investing in the program. You’re willing to do it for basketball. Are you with football?

    2. FIND AN EXCITING COACH: *News flash* We are not going to be able to hire a coach that is worth his headset if if he doesn’t believe he has a possibility to come here and improve his resume by winning. We’re a basketball school, that isn’t going to change, so this is not a destination job. Not sure if everyone knows, but the reason Rich was hired was because a coaching search advisory panel he was on for UK FAILED to find a candidate that would accept the UK job. He stepped up and took the job (to save Mitch’s @ss) as a way to buy more time for UK to find a qualified candidate or to build a viable candidate in house. You see which one of those options we ended up with too. There are a few different names on the short list, but keep in mind we have the (perception is) reality of being one of the bottom 20 or so football jobs in the country, so don’t think you’re going to get one of your first choices until we get new facilities in place. Mitch has a VERY difficult job ahead of him in trying to find a coach.

    I can absolutely tell you that we will not get to #2 until we’ve taken care of #1.

  11. Student
    11:10 pm September 25, 2012 Permalink

    I may be the only student in Commonwealth on Saturday. As a student I have a major issue with the lack of student support. I can understand season ticket holders, and others that must pay face value for tickets to not show up, but for students that can get $5 tickets its a shame that they don’t show support for their peers. However, I am not a normal UK student, I am currently 22 years old and experiencing my final football season as a student of UK. I started coming to Commonwealth when I was 5 years old, and I can count on my hands how many home games I’ve missed since then. In all of my time experiencing bad football and the occasional “special” years (the 2007 team) I have never seen the fan base give up on a team like they have this year. I understand that people don’t like Joker, and those same people think they’re making a statement by not showing up. The reason I’m writing this post is to make a few points:

    1) if you have tickets to the game Saturday just show up. It’s going to look much more embarrassing with 20,000 fans there on National Television. I don’t care if you don’t like Joker, I’ve given up on him too, but at least support the players. There’s a lot of young talented players on this team that have nothing but potential. Just be there for these kids or else we might be in a similar situation we’re in now, lacking Junior/Senior leadership due to transfers and dismissals.
    2) Lastly, if you expect any recruits to commit after this debacle of a season then we need to give them something to fall in love with. When I was growing up and coming to Commonwealth on Saturdays to watch 2-9 football teams, the stadium would still have 60,000 people there. Kentucky fans hsve always been known as the most loyal and passionate fan base in the country, and quite frankly that may be all we have to draw in recruits this year.

    I’m done. Hope to see everybody at Commonwealth on Saturday, and if you need more incentive to come to the game….. After all it is Spurrier… Go Cats!

  12. Adam
    11:45 pm September 25, 2012 Permalink

    Nice article Ally.

  13. Gwar
    11:47 pm September 25, 2012 Permalink

    UK won’t score any points on Saturday

  14. BillyJoeCat-Fan
    12:46 am September 26, 2012 Permalink

    tdogg40330 I agree with you and most fans say they agree but they obviously don’t because all they do now is gripe. We had gone to 5 straight bowls and missed last year by a game & everyone wants Joker fired. You say 6-8 games ig good. Wrong we have never had that. When we went to 5 straight bowls and everyone thought competeing for the East Division was the next step. Next years team should be very good and winning 7 or 8 games is fairly reasonable scenario. Who has brought those players? Joker did & it would be a shame for him not to get the credit for next years team. If we bring in a new coach and next year is as good as it looks like it will be, some will say “Look what happens when we got a new coach”. we had/are having a bit of a down time last year and this year but the future does look bright (6-8 wins bright) which what most fans say they want & would be happy with.

  15. Dave in Bangkok
    12:57 am September 26, 2012 Permalink

    I concur. Well done.


  16. barn
    7:09 am September 26, 2012 Permalink

    11–your attitude is commendable but buying tickets and filling the stadium is sending the wrong message–“they’re buying what we’re producing–so why not keep on producing it?” if fans want better product then send a message. money talks. harsh but real.

  17. Yabba
    8:21 am September 26, 2012 Permalink

    There isn’t one good reason we can’t be elite in both sports. The UK fan base is the best of the best and our football and basketball programs should be too. We’re already half way there, now, let’s go finish the race.

  18. BleedRed
    8:30 am September 26, 2012 Permalink

    Not that UL has been consistant over 10-15 years with it, but this was the case in 2006 as well, had a 1 loss football season with a bcs bowl win, a final four appearence, and a trip to the college world series as well. May not have been the case if we were in the SEC with football, although basketball we would fair fine. Petrino, thats all i’m sayin cats fans.

  19. Prophet
    9:09 am September 26, 2012 Permalink

    More interesting numbers. Since beginning of BCS in 1988 (15 years) only 13 schools have participated in a BCS bowl and the Elite Eight – total of 240 opportunities and only 13 accomplished. Plus 9 of the 13 participated only once (primarily because of conference affiliation – read: Big East). Further, only one SEC team (UF) did it.

  20. BleedRed
    9:52 am September 26, 2012 Permalink

    #19 – so you don’t think we would have made a BCS bowl with only 1 loss?

  21. JokersWindbreaker
    1:27 pm September 26, 2012 Permalink

    Is Ohio State not good at both football and basketball? They have been to multiple Final Fours and BCS Bowls in the last decade.

  22. newballcoach
    2:45 pm September 26, 2012 Permalink

    I’m not asking to be elite just competitive. Having an outside shot of winning the east. Thats all I’m asking. Im a bigger UK football fan than basketball. If we don’t at least try to go after Petrino ( because he is the answer) then i don’t know if I can continue to support Mitch like I have in the past.

  23. deej
    3:13 pm September 26, 2012 Permalink

    #22, UK has already contacted Petrino. His answer was that, “his eyes are set on better job opportunities.” So we expressed interest, but were told no thanks.

    Now what do you suggest?

  24. newballcoach
    4:11 pm September 26, 2012 Permalink

    1) I don’t believe your comment. I don’t think Mitch should or would go behind Jokers back and contact coaches about the job.

    2) if your statement is true and Coach Petrino said no. What about Bud Foster at Va Tech or Brent Venables (sp) former D coordinator at Oklahoma now at Clemson.