No matter how the Kentucky Wildcats season ended I knew I had to formulate a piece on this subject. I already did a perspective piece that was more specific to the 38-1 season itself. That happened on the night of the national championship game.
This article is a little bit about Kentucky becoming the most recent team to make a real run at finishing a season undefeated. Wichita State in 2014 and St. Joseph’s in 2004 made runs at it by getting to the NCAA tournament unbeaten. Kentucky took it next level like 1991 UNLV squad with Larry Johnson and Larry Bird’s 1979 Indiana State team by getting to the Final Four with an unblemished record.
It’s also a little broader than that as we highlight teams in other sports that have made serious runs at long-standing, time-tested impressive records and accomplishments. We’ve highlighted what the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers a little bit already, they were the last team to run the table. The 2007 New England Patriots made it to the Super bowl with and 18-0 record and came within a game of replacing the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the NFL’s most recent unbeaten champion.
On an individual level Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera won the triple crown in 2012, leading the American League in batting average, home runs and RBI. The last time this feat was accomplished prior to Cabrera pulling it off was in 1967 when Carl Yastrzemski did it.
The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers reeled off 33 consecutive wins, a total yet to be reached or exceeded by any team since. In 2013 the Miami Heat got the closest when the won 27 games in a row.
I want to take a few moments and compare the 1972 Miami Dolphins and those 1976 Indiana Hoosiers, most notably the coaches and players. You have Bobby Knight and Don Shula.
Anyone who’s got even a tiny little bit of age on them has tons of negative Bob Knight images, a plethora really.
Yes, this man coaches the undefeated 1976 Indiana Hoosiers to a perfect season. Yet when Kentucky was on its way to 38-0 the players from that Indiana team couldn’t have been more gracious. Many even hoped that Kentucky would finish the season with a perfect record. Their viewpoint was the polar opposite than that of their volatile head coach.
When Don Shula comes to mind one usually thinks of a guy who was poised and composed. A coach who thought things through before acting on rash impulses. You know, the opposite of Bob Knight. Yet his 1972 Dolphins are some of the more obnoxious record owners that you will see.
Yet his players, Mercury Morris in particular, just can’t seem to savor their perfect season calmly.
Now the record belongs to the Dolphins and they can say, do and act however they want. And they do, which is why they pop champagne every time all the teams in the NFL suffer their first loss. The fact they have audacity to question each team’s audacity to go 10-0, 11-0 and beyond as they themselves once did is just mind boggling to me.
The Dolphins players come off as they were coached by Knight, the Hoosiers as if they were Shula guys. It’s just funny how that has worked out over the years.