Q: How bad is bad? A: Pretty Bad

Some of you who read this site graduated from dear ol’ Macalester. If you’ve heard of the place, you know just how bad their sports teams are (they had to cancel women’s basketball this year). The baddest of the bad is the football team, who’s badness is legendary. I don’t think most people know just how bad they are however.

There is a tendencey with most thing to regress towards the mean. That means over a period of time, the good balances out with the bad. In sports, over a long period of time, you shouldn’t expect the career winning percentage for a team to be too far from .500. Think of the Chicago Bulls with and without Jordan. The Packers between Vince Lombardi and Mike Holmgren.

It appears that the tendency to move towards the mean doesn’t apply to Macalester football. They aren’t just bad. Their badness has been there for generations.

I went back and took the MIAC records of Macalester football since 1963 (1970 records weren’t available) and their overall record since they left the MIAC. That’s 40 years of football. I’m sure there might be some non-conference wins I’m missing, but I don’t know where to find them.

Overall result? 56 wins. 274 losses. 3 ties. That’s a .170 winning percentage over a FORTY YEAR period.

It gets better. Of those 40 seasons, 18 were winless. 9 were one win seasons. They had only two winning seasons (1985-86 aka the Glory Years) one of which was only one game over .500. While they no longer hold the NCAA record, there should be an asterisk. They went 1-61 from 1989 to 1995. From 1971 through 1980, they went 2-70. From 1963 through 1968 they went 2-32.

Here is what I think is a really good question and honest question: Over the last 40 years, has there been any collegiate or professional team in any sport which has done worse?

ESPN put together a list of horrible programs, but they just lists streaks and short periods where a team sucked. I don’t know if any of them can show such consistant suckatude year in and year out for decades.

Even Prairie View A&M, which had an 80 game losing streak from 1989 to 1998 won five national black college titles between 1953 and 1964. The best Mac has EVER done was a MIAC co-championship in 1947, and when they only played 4 games, and a championship in 1925 when they won 3 games.

I’m guessing other Mac sports might be in contention. The men’s basketball team has won 2 conference titles in 85 years (one was a co-championship). Baseball has won 1 (1950).

If anyone can come up with any team in any sport who can compare to Macalester football, I’d love to hear it.

Fun Fact: Macalester doesn’t play hockey, yet holds 12 conference championships.

By Gary

3 dimples. 7 continents. 130 countries.

4 replies on “Q: How bad is bad? A: Pretty Bad”

I can’t wait until the legions of Mac drones get ahold of this and descend on your site to tell you what an idiot you are, since you obviously don’t see the brilliance inherent in the design of the football team’s chinstraps.

I suspect you’re right. There’s very little chance there’s another program out there that’s even close over a comparable length of time.

What you don’t mention is how such a losing streak is a badge of honor for most people at Macalester, a school without a greek sytem.

It’s such a badge of honor, I have difficulty commenting because it displays insufficient lack of caring.

Gary, you are wrong in writing “They had only two winning seasons (1985-86 aka the Glory Years) one of which was only one game over .500.”

The “Glory Years” were 1984-1986 (three winning seasons in a row). The 1884 team was 6-5, beating Bemidji State (Div. II) in a final non-conference game that season.

I know this because I played in that game.


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