Football, Basketball champs meet on field

You’ll be forgiven if you looked at this weekend’s Alabama Crimson Tide at Duke Blue Devils football matchup and thought to yourself “what the heck are those two teams doing playing each other”? But savvy readers, as all who read this blog are, will also think “hey check it out – the basketball national champion is playing the football national champion!”

Because you were so astute and observant, you now get to stump your friends with this trivia question – when was the last time that the reigning basketball champ played the reigning football champ on the gridiron?

Reigning Football Champ vs Reigning Basketball Champ, Since 1985

It’s not as common as you might think. Since the NCAA basketball tournament expanded in 1985, it has only happened three times. And the last such matchup is full of similarities to this weekend’s Alabama-Duke matchup.

For one, Alabama was involved. For another, a Tobacco Road school was involved. And a third similarity: the defending basketball champ had just taken over the title from its biggest rival.

Here’s your answer: the 1993 Gator Bowl was the last such time, when the North Carolina Tar Heels (under Mack Brown) played Alabama (under Gene Stallings). North Carolina was coming off its title win against the Michigan Wolverines in the Chris Webber “Timeout” game. “Bama was defending a 13-0 season and national championship victory against the Miami Hurricanes in the Sugar Bowl. The Crimson Tide won the bowl game, 24-10.

You’ll notice in the chart that each time, the football champ won the game. Most would guess the trend will continue this weekend.