Strange and interesting things that I have learned from the NCAA website in the course of an extended email exchange with a colleague about college sports:
1. LSU has won the 6th highest number of national championships in Division I sports.
2. Numbers 1, 2, and 3 are UCLA (97 national championships), Stanford (91), and USC (84).
3. The drop-off between the California schools and the rest of the pack is precipitous.* Oklahoma State comes in #4 with 46 championships, and Arkansas is not far behind with 42. (LSU has 40.)
4. Of the top 6 championship-winning Division I schools, LSU is the only one that has won more national championships in women’s sports (24) than in men’s (16). Neither Oklahoma State nor Arkansas has won a single national championship in a women’s sport.
5. LSU is ranked 3rd in the number of national championships in women’s sports, behind Stanford (34) and UCLA (28).
6. All 24 of LSU’s women’s national championships are in track and field, 11 indoor and 13 outdoor.
7. Somewhere down the line, LSU won one national championship in men’s boxing.
8. Football is not included among the sports that the NCAA counts in these championship figures, as “the NCAA does not conduct a championship for Division I-A football.” On a linked page of past Division I-A national championships in football, however, one can see that over the past 136 years, there have only been 27 seasons in which the championship title has been considered undisputed. Of those 27, 13 date from 1892 and earlier. Of those 13, 7 went to Yale, 5 to Princeton, and 1 to Harvard.
Make of that what you will.
*I remain very curious about this concentration of championships on the west coast. Some of it is attributable, I suspect, to the inclusion of certain sports in west-coast athletic programs that simply don’t exist in the midwest or east; I’m thinking here in particular of water polo. Some of it may well be climate-related; California’s mighty conducive to sports in general, with its mild temperatures and low humidity. And some of it, no doubt, is a legacy factor, in which the championship-rich get championship-richer, through more easily obtainable funding and greater ease in recruiting. But I’m just not convinced that those three factors are enough to explain the nearly 50% dropoff between USC and Oklahoma State. Theories?