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Virginia football, basketball winning at other's expense

Statistical proof of Rule 2(B)

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

As we try to make sense of Friday night's utter debacle and look to where the football program may be headed, we're given a ray of sunshine in the prospect of a dawning basketball season. But do football woes translate into basketball glee?

I put on my Danny Neckel hat to find out.

Football vs basketball win percentage

This chart tracks football's win percentage in blue against men's basketball's win percentage in orange, starting with the 1974-75 season. Why that year? It was the season that both Sonny Randle and Terry Holland were in their first year coaching.

What this shows me is that when one is doing well, the other is struggling. You can see the Ralph Sampson era set against the depths of Dick Bestwick's tenure, and the steady growth under Tony Bennett contrasting with the roller-coaster decline under Mike London.

There is a six-year period in particular that illustrates this trend. In 1996, the football team went 7-5 and lost in the Carquest Bowl. In the 1996-97 basketball season, the Hoos were 18-13 under Jeff Jones and bowed out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Both teams had a winning percentage around 0.58 (0.583 for football, 0.581 for basketball). Over the next three years, football would peak at 9-3 and a win percentage of 0.750. Basketball, meanwhile, cratered out with back-to-back losing seasons and Jones' dismissal. But by 2002, basketball had posted three winning seasons while football sputtered down to a 0.417 winning percentage in Al Groh's first year.

You can see pure wins in the chart below.

Football vs basketball wins

In the history of college athletics, only one school has held both the football and basketball national titles in the same academic year: Florida, whose 2007 BCS title came in the midst of its basketball two-peat. So it is certainly too much to expect for both programs to soar to those kinds of heights together. But if uncompromised excellence is the mantra, it doesn't seem like too much to expect consistent winning from both.