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April 1, 2013As it turns out, building simultaneously successful basketball and football programs is not such an easy feat.
For example, Indiana has gone all in for the basketball, claiming five national championships and ranking No. 11 in all-time wins with 1,690. The Hoosiers football team? It became the all-time losingest program in the history of college football when it surpassed Northwestern this season (636 losses).
The Alabama basketball team has been to the NCAA Tournament just 20 times - five fewer appearances than the number of the school's football program's national titles.
In the past two years, the Wolverines have seen a level of simultaneous success from their two major program that has rarely been achieved in Ann Arbor.
Michigan is one of just three programs that compete at the FBS level in football that has won at least 24 basketball games and at least eight football games in each of the last two years. The Wolverines are currently 30-7 and went 24-10 last year in basketball. In football, they went 8-5 last year and 11-2 in 2011.
The two others are Oregon and Ohio. The Ducks went 28-9 (2012-13) and 24-11 (2011-12) in basketball and 12-1 (2012) and 12-2 (2011) in football. The Bobcats compiled a 29-8 record (2012-13) and 24-10 record (2011-12) in basketball and 9-4 (2012) and 10-4 (2011).
Other programs have come close - with downtrodden seasons mixed in. Ohio State, for example, is one of the benchmark programs for sustained two-sport success. Of course, the Buckeyes went 6-7 in football in 2011. Michigan State has also had recent success in football to go along with a longtime powerhouse basketball team, but the Spartans went 7-6 on the gridiron last season.
During the last two seasons, Michigan has boasted an 11-win season in football in which it won a Sugar Bowl Championship and a 24-win, Big Ten-title winning season and a Final Four-bound season in basketball.
The Wolverines have only duplicated the feat on five previous occasions.
Here's a breakdown of those occurrences:
In 1996, Lloyd Carr's second year as head coach, the Wolverines went 8-4, including a huge upset win at Ohio State, 13-9. The Buckeyes finished the season 11-1 that year.
With an 8-3 regular-season record, Michigan earned an invitation to the Outback Bowl, where it lost, 17-14, to Alabama.
The next season, Michigan fans surely remember well. The Wolverines finished a perfect 12-0 season with a 21-16 win over Washington State in the Rose Bowl, which clinched the Associated Press National Championship.
On the basketball end, the Wolverines went 24-11 in 1996-97 and won the NIT Championship, which has since been vacated due to improprieties. The next season, Michigan went 25-9, won the first-ever Big Ten Tournament Championship and was bounced in the round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament.
This may be more commonly referred to as the Fab Five era - and the only instance in which the Wolverines won at least 24 basketball games and eight football games in three consecutive seasons.
During these three years, the basketball team compiled an 80-22 record, two appearances in the NCAA Tournament National Championship Game and another appearance in the NCAA Tournament regional finals.
On the football field, the Wolverines won two Big Ten titles (1991, 1992), compiled a 27-6-3 record, appeared in two Rose Bowls (a 34-13 loss to Washington in 1992 and a 38-31 win over Washington in 1993) and beat North Carolina State, 42-7, in the 1994 Hall Of Fame Bowl. Michigan also went 2-0-1 against Ohio State.
The Wolverines went 8-4 on the football field in 1987, beating Alabama, 28-24, in the Hall Of Fame Bowl. The next season, they lost their first two games - a 19-17 loss to 12-0 Notre Dame and a 31-30 loss to 11-1 Miami - before going 9-0-1 down the stretch, winning the Big Ten and beating USC, 22-14, in the Rose Bowl.
In 1987-88, the Michigan basketball team went 26-8, finished second in the Big Ten and lost in the NCAA Tournament regional semifinals.
The next season, of course, is the high-water mark in program history. Although the Wolverines finished third in the Big Ten, they strung together an incredible run to win the NCAA Tournament National Championship when Rumeal Robinson's now-famous free throws secured an 80-79 win over Seton Hall in the title game.
In 1975-76, Rickey Green led the Wolverines to the NCAA Tournament National Championship Game, where they lost to mighty Indiana, 86-68. Green led a potent offense that set a program record with 2,753 points in the regular season, a record that stood until 1987.
The next year, Michigan went 26-4, won the regular-season Big Ten title and lost in the NCAA Tournament regional final.
In football, the Wolverines went 8-2-2 in 1975 and won the 1976 Big Ten championship with a 10-2 record.