In 1963, John F. Kennedy was still president. Our parents were still in grade school. And, until two Saturdays ago, it was the last time Navy had beaten Notre Dame in a football game. The 1963 Midshipmen were led by future NFL Hall of Famer Roger Staubach. But for the next 44 years, Notre Dame would reign supreme.
However, with Notre Dame in the midst of their worst season of all time, many fans thought this could be the year to end the streak. Although it took three overtimes, Navy finally did get their revenge. Beating a 1-8 team usually doesn't merit a day off, such as the one granted to all Navy students by Captain Margaret D. Klein, unless, of course, that team had been pounding you for nearly half a century. So, in honor of the Naval Academy's victory, I'd like to take some time and pay tribute to a few of the sports world's more notable losing streaks.
The California Institute of Technology is consistently ranked among the top 10 academic schools in the country. Their basketball team, however, isn't quite on the same level. This past January, the Beavers snapped an 11-year, 207-game losing streak against NCAA Division III opponents with a win over Bard College of New York. Unfortunately for Bard, they are still in the midst of a 259-game losing streak that dates back almost 23 years. To be fair though, Cal Tech is limited in its recruiting due to their nearly impossible academic standards. In fact, five members of last season's team had no varsity experience at the high school level.
Most of us have high hopes that this season's Miami Dolphins will finish 0-16. But, for a true example of futility in the NFL, we look back at the 1976-1977 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who compiled a record 26 straight losses. In 1976, their first year in the NFL, they finished 0-14; and they would lose their first 12 games of the next season before winning their last two. They were shut out 11 times and reached double digits in scoring only nine times during the streak. Who was the Bucs' quarterback in 1976? Does Heisman trophy winner and college football coaching great Steve Spurrier ring a bell?
Finally, you can't talk about losing streaks without mentioning the 1989-98 Prairie View Panthers. Over the span of those 10 seasons, the Panthers lost 80 straight NCAA Division I-AA football games. Their 1991 team was selected by ESPN as the worst sports team during ESPN's 25th anniversary celebration. And to be honest, I don't think that does this team justice. They may just be the worst collection of "athletes" to ever be assembled. Their defense allowed 56 points a game while their offense only managed to score 48 the entire year. As one fan put it, "The only way we could make them win was in video games." Fortunately for Panther fans, they would snap the streak in 1999 against Langston State en route to a 2-9 season.