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Best We've Ever Had?

Finals week = over. Thanks for tolerating my lack of interest in writing interesting things. If y'all got any questions to ask about the difference between the ionic and corinthian orders of columns, I'm your man. Consider all my posts for the next few weeks written in a New York state of mind. (The Nas version, obviously. If you like Billy Joel, I'm afraid there's no hope for us enjoying each other's company.)

Anyways. Northwestern sports has featured an enormous amount of rightful back-patting in recent weeks and years, due to the relative success of our two most prominent teams: football and men's basketball. Both teams are in the "others receiving votes" categories of their respective AP polls - football is 29th, with 35 votes, and basketball is 31st with 48. 

For a young'un like me, it's hard to fathom how impressive this year. In my two years here, both teams have been pretty decent. So to put all this in perspective for myself and others like me, I wanted to see if this, is, in fact, the zenith of NU sports success to date. 

So, to the best of my ability, I scanned NU's AP rankings in both sports, looking to see when the lowest average AP ranking in both sports in school history was. Let's call this the, uh, Sports.. Goodness... Quotient? or the SGQ, for short. (That sounds horrible.) Right now, for example, with NU ranked 29th and 31st in the AP poll, our SGQ would be 60, and we'd divide that by two to an average of 30. If one of the teams wasn't ranked, there is no SGQ for that period of time. 



First off, you have to recognize how rare a Northwestern basketball team being ranked would be. This has only happened three - THREE! - seasons in the history of the school, and has never happened since January 14, 1969. 

Second, you have to realize that both teams have never, not once, ever, been ranked simultaneously. They came exceptionally close in late 1958-59. NU's football team started out the season 5-1 including a 21-0 shutout of No. 4 Ohio State that catapulted the Cats to No. 4 in the country. (Their only loss came to No. 7 Iowa.) But the OSU victory was followed by losses to No. 7 Wisconsin and No. 8 Purdue (the Big Ten was pretty stacked), leaving them ranked No. 20 in the then 20 spot poll. If NU had won their season finale against Illinois on November 22nd, they likely would've ended the season in the final rankings. Instead they lost 27-20. Nine days later, with NU's football team out of the poll picture, NU's basketball team started their season, and they won their first three games against Western Michigan, Maryland, and Notre Dame, catapulting them to No. 10 in the December 9th edition of the poll. They would go on to win nine of their first ten and reach the No. 6 ranking in the country, but it was too late for both teams to maintain simultaneous rankings. No other football and basketball teams have been ranked in the same academic year before or since. 


If no two NU teams were ever simultaneously ranked, it became clear that I'd have to delve into the others receiving votes. However - and this is probably on me - I can't find reliable others receiving votes information from before 2001-2002 . Which makes this a rather futile exercise. If somebody tells me where I can find this information, I will be quite glad. 

In the era I was able to track, the basketball team has been others receiving votes twice: now, and last season, when NU briefly was the 41st, and later, 40th ranked team in college basketball due to getting 4 and 7 votes respectively. Since NU's football team ended the regular season ranked No. 22 in the nation in the AP poll, NU's SGQ's for these weeks were 31.5 and 31. Which would make the SGQ of 30 (as far as I can tell) the lowest that number has been in the history of the school. 

Or, in words people can understand, as far as I can tell, NU's football and basketball teams, combined, are currently better than they ever have been, according to the associated press. 

Of course, the operative phrase is "as far as I can tell." But it's a start. When I feel like actually filing through stuff, I'll get back to you with an actual answer on whether or not this is the best time in NU sports history, according to the Associated Press. But until then, enjoy being in what might be the greatest single polling period in the history of NU sports. 

... to date.