Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> Ghosts About the author, Boyd Nation


Publication Date: October 24, 2006

I've been doing some more historical reconstruction here lately. I'm specifically working on 1996, but I'm trying to go ahead and grab as many game scores as I can along the way, so I'm getting a good look in some cases at days gone by. That's always a fascinating thing to do, since it shows ways that not only has the game changed, but our society has changed -- I ran across one season for a team that was abandoned with a month or so to go as the result of a meningitis outbreak on campus, for example.

Looking at the results from a time when the game was much more regional (and the regions were smaller) than now led me to notice that there were times when schools that you wouldn't have thought of appeared to be more dominant than you would have expected. The big conferences have been essentially unchanged over the years, although the Ivy League has lost most of the athletic greatness that it enjoyed in the early years, but there have always been exceptions, the Cal State Fullerton's of their day. This, combined with the coming quasi-holiday here in the U. S. featuring lots of ghosts, got me to thinking about the question I want to take a shot at today: What's the best season ever by a school that no longer has a team?

Since the question came to me that way, I'll stick with it, which rules out a couple of good contenders who still play at lower levels -- the 1954 Rollins Tars are probably the best of those, as they won their first three games in Omaha before losing the last two to finish as runner-up. Rollins is now, of course, a perennial contender in Division II.

The first avenue at looking at this doesn't necessarily work -- just looking at the results from Omaha isn't completely telling. The champions list has no help at all -- even almost 60 years later, all of the previous champs are still around, and all but a few (the Big 10 teams and Holy Cross) wouldn't be at all surprising if they won it in 2007. The runners-up list is a bit more interesting (did you know that Eastern Michigan had to lose two in a row to Arizona in 1976 to keep from winning it all?), but all but one are still playing (more on that in just a minute), and only Rollins has left D1.

That leads us to the fact that, up until at least the mid-'50's, getting to Omaha wasn't always all that impressive. The regions (or districts, as they were then called) were allowed to set their own criteria for representation, and some of them were a little sparse to start with. Therefore, you end up with things like Springfield College (still playing in D3) getting invited in 1951 and 1955. They did manage to beat Texas A&M in 1951, so they weren't completely overmatched, but they probably weren't a top 10 team.

Here, then, is a list formed from a combination of CWS results and old conference standings, ordered by my best guess of how impressive they were in reverse order. This is an area where I'd love to get some feedback, especially from anyone who was there, so let me hear from you (as an aside, let me say thank you for all the feedback on the race column, some of which I haven't been able to answer yet).

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Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> Ghosts About the author, Boyd Nation