The top winningest college basketball programs of all-time by victories are Kentucky, Kansas, UNC and Duke. These are storied and successful hoop programs and at least one of them seems to compete for a national championship every year during March madness
But what kind of football success have these programs enjoyed?
Of the four basketball powers, UNC is the highest ranked of these programs in football, registering a surprising #28 ranking for most football wins ever! Kentucky comes in next with a #49 ranking for most football wins. And we all know about the painful seasons that Duke and Kansas football have endured over the years although Duke had a glorious run in the 40’s and is very competitive now under Coach David Cutcliffe.
The top winningest college football programs of all-time by victories are Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Texas. We know the fight songs, we see them on television every Saturday under the nation’s spotlight and they always seem to have the best recruiting classes.
But what kind of basketball success have these programs enjoyed?
Interestingly, these programs have had pretty good success on the hardwoods. Two of the four – Notre Dame and Texas – have basketball programs that rank in the top #25 of all-time basketball wins. Yet, neither has won a NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship and I wouldn’t consider either one a true basketball powerhouse. Ohio State ranks #30 in all-time wins and they won a National title in 1960. Michigan, surprisingly, is not in the top #50 but won a National title in 1989 and has earned 14 Big Ten basketball titles.
Can a basketball powerhouse and football powerhouse co-exist on the same campus? Let’s take a look at the records and see if it’s possible. Be prepared, though, this information is not for all audiences and what may be a tough ticket in basketball may be a ticket giveaway in football at the same school!
Here is a listing of the #25 all-time leaders in football and basketball wins. (Please note that Ivy League teams and FCS teams are not included in this list.)
|8||Notre Dame||#2||8||Penn State||#32|
|24||North Carolina St.||24||Navy|
Colleges With Highest Rank for Wins in Both Basketball & Football
Best Program – Notre Dame
- Notre Dame (#2f ootball, #8 basketball) is the clear leader in both basketball and football wins and the only school to finish in the top ten in both sports. I think most of us are not surprised that the Fighting Irish are #2 wins in football with their storied past but basketball with the #8th most wins is surprising.
Schools that Finished In Top #25 in both Basketball and Football
- Texas (#4 football, #17 basketball) is similar to Notre Dame in that the football prowess is legendary and the Longhorns have enjoyed considerable success over many years on the gridiron. However, Texas basketball with the #17 rank in wins is shocking. Texas obviously has had success on the hardwood over the years but it has not been reflected in NCAA Tournament play.
- Syracuse (#6 basketball, #23 football) – the basketball record Is not a shock as the Orangemen have a long history of basketball success and rank #1 in attendance at home games in the Carrier Dome. The football program has struggled of late but some of the great legends of college football (Jim Brown, Floyd Little, Ernie Davis, etc.) made Syracuse a perennial power years ago.
- West Virginia (#14 basketball, #21 football) – a bit of a surprise here. The Mountaineers have enjoyed really good basketball success over the years with Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley. And Bob Huggins return to coach at his alma mater has kept West Virginia very competitive. West Virginia has had good consistent football but the #14 in all-time football wins is higher than most of us would have thought.
- Washington (#20 basketball, #19 football) – another surprise is the Washington Huskies finishing in the top #25 in all-time wins in both sports. Perhaps playing on the West Coast has kept many of us from appreciating the consistency of their program.
- Michigan’s basketball program is not in the top #50 for all-time wins. The Michigan State Spartans show up at #26 in the basketball list but the Wolverines have not made the cut. With Michigan registering the most football wins I really thought this would be one of the colleges that had a strong football-basketball success story and would show that powerful major revenue sports can co-exist. I was wrong!
- Ohio State and UNC similarities. The Ohio State Buckeyes rank #3 in all-time football wins. Their basketball program comes in at #28. UNC flips that performance with the basketball team registering a #3 ranking in basketball wins while the football team comes in at #28 in all-time football wins.
Outside of Notre Dame, no other school breaks the top ten in wins in both football and basketball. There are five schools that have both sports in the top #25 in total wins in each sport but nobody has proven that over time you can have championship caliber teams at the same time.
Florida was the best example of winning big in both sports when in 2006 the football and basketball team’s captured national championships. Maryland had a great run for in 2002 winning the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship and representing the ACC as champions in a battle against Florida in the Orange Bowl.
There are other examples but these are more anomaly than the rule!
Can a school have powerful programs consistently winning big in both major sports at the same time? While over the long term Notre Dame has proven that you can win a lot of games in both sports but the Irish basketball program has not won a national championship in hoops and has had only one Final Four appearance.
The history books show us that it just doesn’t happen that a school can have top-ten type programs in both basketball and football at the same time on a consistent basis! Maybe we’ll see it once in a while like we did with the Florida Gators a decade ago but over time the answer is no!