Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Tampa Spartans among Florida’s top college, pro sports dynasties

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As sure as the Rays revere metrics, the University of Tampa baseball program remains the bay area’s resident sports dynasty.

The Spartans (52-8) captured the program’s ninth national title — tied with Florida Southern for most in Division II history — with Saturday’s 8-3 win against Angelo State in Cary, North Carolina. They have won four crowns in the last 12 seasons and six in the last 19, which nearly equates to one every three years during that span.

That’s a dynasty by even the strictest of definitions, placing the Spartans in an exclusive statewide pantheon.

Precious few of Florida’s college or pro sports teams have achieved dynasty status, which in its simplest terms refers to a team that performs at an elite and/or championship level for a significant stretch. Plenty of high school programs have (too many to list here), but what about those at the higher rungs?

We pondered that question at length, and devised this definitive — or is it debatable — list of the state’s college and pro sports dynasties. They’re listed in chronological order.

Miami Dolphins (1970-1974)

In this Jan. 14, 1973, photo, Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula is carried off the field after his team won Super Bowl 7 with a 14-7 win against Washington, capping the NFL’s only perfect season. [ Associated Press (1973) ]

A few years back, CBS Sports tabbed the 1970s Dolphins as the ninth-best dynasty in NFL history. They made three consecutive Super Bowls (1971-1973), with the NFL’s only perfect season (17-0) sandwiched in between. Their regular season mark in that mesmerizing stretch: 36-5-1, for a winning percentage (.857) that would make Tom Brady envious. Even the year before and after that three-year run, Don Shula’s teams posted double-digit winning seasons and made the playoffs.

University of Miami baseball (1978-2008)

Miami players celebrate after the final out of their 6-5 victory over Florida State to win the championship game of the College World Series on June 19, 1999. (AP Photo/Ted Kirk)

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