Remembering Oberlin’s 1990s Football Dynasty


Courtesy of Oberlin Athletics

Oberlin football team in 1921 playing football.

Editors’ note: All quotes are fake and not from real interviews. The game stats, however, are 100 percent true.

Last fall, I wrote an article trying to determine whether Oberlin’s sports teams were as bad as everyone believes. After extensive research, I found that these perceptions are only half true — no thanks to the football teams of the 1990s. Still, the gridiron squads of this era are the closest thing to an athletic dynasty this school has ever had, so I took the time to catch up with some of the players and coaches who played a role in a truly historic period of Oberlin football.

From 1993 to 2001, Oberlin football went on one of the most impressive runs in the history of organized sports, losing 40 straight games, beating Thiel College by one point, and promptly losing 44 more.

An offensive player from the 2001 team that topped the initial 40-game streak by losing 44 games recounted the team’s historical accomplishment.

“We knew that it took tremendous effort from the greats that came before us to lose 40 games,” he said. “To go out there, lose a 41st straight game, and beat that record was going to be tough. As an offensive unit we knew we had to be a bit more careless with the ball and miss a few more blocking assignments to get the job done.”

For the first three quarters of the record-breaking game against Pomona-Pitzer College, the Yeomen were caught sleeping. They carried a 14–7 lead entering the final period.

“I looked at the scoreboard and felt a pit in my stomach, and I immediately went over to my teammates to motivate them to turn the game around,” a defensive player said.

The player’s words made an impact as the Oberlin defense gave up 18 points in the fourth quarter, which proved enough to secure a 25–21 loss, despite a late miscue by Oberlin’s offense resulting in a Yeomen touchdown.

While the 2001 team staved off a few close calls early in the season to secure the longest losing streak in Oberlin football history, its streak eventually came to an end. On Oct. 20, 2001, the Yeomen beat Kenyon College, halting the historic run. One of Oberlin’s coaches was disappointed to see the streak end but carries a good attitude about it 20 years later.

“We were sad to see [the streak] end, but I’m proud of what we accomplished,” he said. “I also want to give some credit to Kenyon, which has since become one of the best programs in the nation at piling up losses.”

The most recent 20+-game losing streak by an NCAC team came from the Kenyon Lords, who lost 26 in a row from 2016–18.

These days, Oberlin football still loses a lot of games, but the team’s longtime tradition of being one of the worst sports teams on the planet may be fading. It went 1–9  last season, with four of its losses being decided by single digits. It is not clear whether the current coaching staff has the skill to come anywhere near the 44-game losing streak set by the Yeomen two decades ago.

A current third-year linebacker expressed frustration with the team’s new trend of winning one or two games each year.

“Clearly there are guys that should not be playing for a school like Oberlin that has such a rich tradition of losing,” he said. “I miss tackles, forget plays, and do my part, but I definitely have teammates who belong somewhere less serious about losing, like Ohio Wesleyan