Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Clemson in the ACC: The Streak

Right now, Clemson is in major jeopardy of ending what we consider to be one of the most impressive feats in the ACC. And not just an impressive feat for Clemson, but for the entirety of the ACC.

Over it's nearly 60 year history, I don't know that we've seen a team as consistent as Clemson has been in the three revenue generating sports (sorry chick basketball - you don't count).

Currently, Clemson is riding a 23 year consecutive streak, across all three sports, of finishing at least .500 in conference play. This includes fourteen straight years in football, five in baseball, and four in basketball.

And if Clemson is unable to win out their last four ACC games, this streak will come to an end.

To put this streak in perspective, only Georgia Tech has a longer streak in football, only Duke has a longer streak in basketball, and only Florida State, Miami, & Vorginia have longer streaks in baseball.

To further the point, only five teams can claim to have current streaks for each of the three sports (Clemson, FSU, Miami, UNC, & NC State), and of those five, three started this academic season (Miami, UNC, & NC State). Meaning only Clemson and FSU can claim multiple year streaks in each of three sports. Furthermore, three teams have no active streaks for any of the three sports (BC, Maryland, & Wake). More teams have active losing streaks than active winning streaks...

To show how rarified the air in which Clemson is competing, let's break down each sport to show how the current ACC schools are faring.

For years, the mediocrity of the ACC has been cited as it's main downfall. And while that may be true seeing as just under half the teams garnered four wins for a second straight year, don't blame Clemson or Georgia Tech. Combined, they have 32 years of actively finishing with at least four conference wins. In fact, the two streaks are long enough to predate the ACC's expansion from 9 to 12. While the ACC may be volatile from year to year, it's always known Clemson and Georgia Tech to be more than competitive.

Basketball has always been the conference's strongpoint, at least nationally. However, there's actually more fluctuations in basketball than there are in football. For example, both football and basketball had seven teams win at least half their conference games. But of those, seven, five football schools had done this the year before while only four basketball schools can say the same. Of those nine total schools with at least two straight seasons in both football and basketball, only Clemson and FSU make both lists.

Neither what Georgia Tech has done in football nor what Duke has done in basketball compares with what FSU and Miami are currently doing in baseball. Both schools have active streaks of at least 21 years - and it could be longer if we counted FSU's time in the Metro conference and Miami's time as an independent. In fact, to keep the numbers usable, we started their two streaks when FSU joined the ACC (Miami made the College World Series as an independent each of the years between the year FSU joined the ACC and when they joined, thus those years were counted).

Overall, in baseball you either have a multi-year streak or you have no streak - there's no room in between.

Overall, by factoring in FSU's 21 straight baseball seasons, along with their current six year football run, and four year basketball run, they have the longest overall streak at 34 years. Behind them, Clemson and Miami with 23 years apiece. Clemson's streak goes 14-5-4 while Miami's goes 1-1-21. The next closest is Georgia Tech with 18 (all football) and Duke with 17 (all basketball).

Clemson's current success in the three revenue generating sports should not go unnoticed, nor should it be discredited. With college sports being as competitive and balanced as they are, to put together 23 straight seasons across three sports is quite impressive. If you don't believe us, just ask Maryland and Auburn (0 for 3), Georgia (1-3), South Carolina and Texas (basketball), or Alabama (baseball).

What's nearly amazing is how close these streaks came to being exceptionally long. Clemson is one Tommy West season from adding another five football seasons and one miserable baseball season from adding another 16 baseball seasons. Duke is one broken back from adding another few basketball seasons and FSU is one of a legend away from running it's football streak to the max.

But even with those seasons, Clemson still finds themselves with the second longest active streak in the ACC over the last 20+ years, or more than the state of Virginia or any of the North Carolina schools.

Hopefully, Clemson makes a run to end the season, but we're not overly hopeful. And if it doesn't, then we'll deal with it, move on, and try to start another one next year.

But in the meantime, let's celebrate what Clemson, its coaches and athletes have accomplished.

P.S. - Clemson's basketball streak is longer than those of UNC & NC State, combined...

Data (sorted by total active streak):

School Football Basketball Baseball Total
FSU 6 4 21 31
Clemson 14 5 4 23
Miami 1 1 21 23
GT 18 0 0 18
Duke 0 17 0 17
UVA 0 1 9 10
VT 10 0 0 10
NC State 3 1 3 7
UNC 1 2 2 5
BC 0 0 0 0
Maryland 0 0 0 0
Wake 0 0 0 0

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