Schools show prowess on field and court

USC looks like it will roll right along to its third-straight NCAA football title this year, but what about the Trojan basketball team after Rick Majerus quit coaching after four days on the job?

Sure, there are several colleges that can boast their dominance over other schools in one sport, but which colleges have the ability to be a legitimate contender in both football and basketball?

These are the questions I had, so I decided to look at the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 seasons to see which schools have recently been competitive in both football and basketball.

By averaging the final rankings in both football and men’s basketball (primarily using the Associated Press rankings for both sports), I developed the top two-sport college rankings.

1. Louisville (14.25)

2. Texas (15.25)

3. Oklahoma (17)

4. Florida (19.25)

5. Connecticut (21)

6. Utah (21.75)

7. Wisconsin (22.5)

8. Pittsburgh (23.25)

9. LSU (24)

10. Oklahoma St. (25)

On the bubble: Florida St., Iowa, Michigan, Miami (Fla.), Texas Tech, Boston College and Maryland.

Surprisingly, the Big 12 Conference had the most teams with three, since Louisville was in Conference USA prior to this season, and Utah and Louisville prove that a team can still finish with a high ranking while playing in a mid-major conference.

It was also interesting to see that the Pacific-10 Conference did not have a representative.

Although USC, with an average ranking of 54, has been strong in football, their basketball team has suffered over the past two seasons. Arizona has had years where both teams have been sturdy, but that has not been the case recently.

I think I should also note the fact that this poll only recognizes a school’s recent success over the last two years, not its overall stability.

If it were covering the last decade, for example, the list would be quite different.

Louisville has done very well the last couple years thanks to Rick Pitino taking over the basketball program and Bobby Petrino guiding the football team to its recent success, so it has the best average ranking of all schools.

Were it not for a late season slide by the Longhorns basketball team last year, Texas would have had a very high average and likely would have finished as the top school.

With that said, I think it is important to give credit to the schools’ athletics directors. To have one successful sport is praiseworthy, but to have two or more major sports from one school contend for the top spot is rare and admirable.

Louisville’s Athletics Director Tom Jurich has turned the Cardinals from an average Conference USA opponent to a Big East contender in football and basketball.

Utah’s Chris Hill has seen success in several sports during his 18-year tenure as athletics director. Last year, the Utes had one of their best two-sport finishes by winning the Fiesta Bowl and capturing a Sweet-16 berth.

Utah has also just enjoyed sending both No. 1 picks to the NBA and NFL, something that has never happened before.

So, if you’re a fan of any of these top-10 teams, be grateful that you get to cheer year round. It’s better to cheer for all sports at a school, rather than just one or none at all.

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