The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only NFL team in history to win a Super Bowl with a perfect record. And each year, when the last undefeated team finally loses, some of the surviving members of the Dolphins crack open bottles of champagne to celebrate their place in history for another year.
And then there’s the 1953-54 Virginia Tech men’s basketball team, which holds the school record for most losses in a single season with 24 (the team finished 3-24 with a 2-13 conference record). That team was beyond bad. In fact, it’s safe to say they were the worst team in program history, although their 15 game losing streak is just the 2nd worst in school history — the following year the 1954-55 team lost 18 straight on their way to a 7-20 season (both under Coach G.F. Laird, who was mercifully re-assigned after the 1954-55 season). This year’s team could match that record losing streak of 18 if they lose out and lose their ACC Tournament opener.
That being said, we wonder if the surviving members of that team are preparing champagne bottles of their own as this year’s Virginia Tech team is on the verge of breaking a record that has stood for 60 years.
Should the Hokies lose by 20 or more points on the road to No. 25 ranked pittsburgh on Saturday, they would be the first Virginia Tech team to lose five consecutive games in reverse Bear Fight* fashion, breaking the record currently shared by this year’s team and the ’53-’54 team.
We combed the record books looking for four-game losing streaks for the past 70 years and that’s about where we stopped. Why? Because when we got to the 40s and 30s, we started seeing opponents with names like “Kroger Blue Devils,” “Roanoke YMCA,” “Langley AFB,” “House of David,” “NC Preflight School,” and “Woodrow Wilson Hospital.” So, we decided to stick with the last 60 years for the purposes of our research.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, we lost to nc preflight school 29-60 in 1944.
Back to business. You see, the ’53-’54 team suffered two four-game losing streaks in which every loss was by 20 or more points (told ya they were terrible):
Jan. 5, 1954 – Lost 62-91 to No. 20 nc state (29 pts)
Jan. 6, 1954 – Lost 45-82 to No. 8 duke (37 pts)
Jan. 9, 1954 – Lost 40-73 to george washington (33 pts)
Jan. 12, 1954 – Lost 73-95 to virginia (22 pts)
(VT lost the next game by 18 points and the one after that by 24 so they narrowly avoided 6 straight Bear Fight losses)
Feb. 13, 1954 – Lost 53-107 to #15 duke (54 pts)
Feb. 15, 1954 – Lost 61-83 to richmond (22 pts)
Feb. 17, 1954 – Lost 51-96 to nc state (45 pts)
Feb. 20, 1954 – Lost 67-101 to wvu (34 pts)
In the 2013-14 season, the Hokies have lost their last four games by a combined 84 points.
Jan. 25 – 45-65 at virginia (20 pts)
Jan. 29 – 52-76 at boston college (24 pts)
Feb. 1 – 60-80 vs. maryland (20 pts)
Feb. 5 – 50-70 at florida state (20 pts)
The panthers are 19-4 this season with losses to duke, virginia, syracuse, and cincinnati. They’re 12th in the nation in points allowed, giving up just 60 per game, while scoring an average of about 74. However, they did need overtime to beat miami last night, so they are capable of playing down to their competition.
On the other hand, they’ve doled out seven Bear Fights this season, including a massive beatdown of clemson. So, there is potential for the game to get real ugly on Saturday.
Whether this year’s team sets a new record for consecutive Bear Fight losses or not, it’s been a hell of depressing season for fans, coaches, and players alike.
* Note: A “Bear Fight” is a VT victory or loss by 20 or more points. A loss is a “Reverse Bear Fight”. The moniker is named for a brutal sequence of shots: a Car Bomb and Jager Bomb back-to-back. The idea is we either got beat so bad we should do a Bear Fight to forget about it, or we won by so much we should do a Bear Fight to celebrate. However, we don’t actually do these any more for health reasons, nor do we encourage or condone binge drinking. However, the labeling of big wins or losses seems to have stuck.
* Editor’s Note: The original version of this article identified the ’53-’54 team as holding the record for longest losing streak (18), however, it was the ’54-’55 team that actually holds that ugsome record. The ’53-’54 team does hold the record for most losses in a season (24).