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College Football's Most Futile Program?

Update [2007-8-7 14:1:13 by Nico]:: Comments are now enabled.

Fellow Crimson Tide fans, we are truly fortunate to be fans of a team that has a trophy case amply stocked with national championship trophies. Fans of Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma, Nebraska, USC, Miami and others also share this warm feeling that so many fanbases know so little about. Fans of other schools like Colorado, Washington, Clemson, Syracuse, BYU have had a single taste of that sweetest ambrosia. For most of them, it will be a treat they will never know again.

Since so few have dwelt in Xanadu, it got me to thinking about which team has historically done the best but hasn't captured that elusive prize. I didn't know for sure who would hold this distinction, but I figured it'd be a Big 10 team like Wisconsin or Purdue. I was way off though.

If going strictly by total wins, then West Virginia holds the distinction. 653 victories in 114 years and a dang near empty trophy case: 4 Big East Championships and 8 Southern Conference Championships is what the Mountaineers have to show for all of that winning...well that and crapload of burned up living room furniture.

Does that make them the best of the worst or the worst of the best or both?

After doing some (extremely) brief research, I only found five other teams with at least 600 wins that haven't won a national title:

  • Miami (OH): 642-363-44
  • Virginia Tech: 637-418-46
  • Arkansas 636-434-40
  • North Carolina: 627-470-54
  • Navy: 617-506-57

I figured winning percentage might also be a telling statistic, so here are those six 600-win schools ranked as far as winning percentage* is concerned:

  • Miami (OH): (.612)
  • Virginia Tech: (.579)
  • West Virgina: (.574)
  • Arkansas: (.573)
  • North Carolina (.545)
  • Navy: (.523)

Miami (OH) is #1 in winning percentage without a national championship and #2 in total victories without a national championship. Perhaps they are college football's most futile team? Though West Virginia is #1 in victories and #3 in percentage, something tells me they'll be hoisting a crystal football long before the RedHawks will.

*I'm tabulating pure winning percentage so ties don't earn you any points.

If you ever have an insane amount of time to kill or are just a hopeless college football junkie like me, then spend some time over at The College Football Data Warehouse where I gathered all of this information.

Update [2007-8-8 10:6:46 by Nico]:

Seeing as this story has been picked up by a few West Virginia boards (that I don't have access to and aren't going to sign up for) I should say that this has nothing to do with sour grapes over not landing Rodriguez for the Bama job. This story is an updated and expanded version of something I wrote for another website before the 2006 season.