Oregon’s Linfield College Wildcats have had a winning record for 60 years!

Since the fall of 1956, the Linfield College Wildcats have fashioned a streak that is unheard of in any sport let alone American college football. The small liberal arts college in McMinnville, Oregon, now playing NCAA III football, has not had a losing season in the last 60 years.

The last time they suffered a losing season, televisions were barely in use and the picture was in black and white, half the teams in today’s NFL did not even exist, Disneyland had just opened its doors, Elvis Presley was barely on his road to stardom and you had to dial for the operator to use a telephone.

So many things have changed since then except for the Linfield football team which has kept on winning; they have won eight of ten games every season, or thereabouts. That just isn’t normal.

This past weekend the Wildcats defeated Willamette 49-7 to move to 5-0 on the season with four games left thus cementing winning season number 60 and keeping the record they call “The Streak”, intact. Linfield, ranked number two in the nation among Division III schools, is now aiming for victory six for 2015 and number 476 overall.

Linfield College - team

Photo: Salem-News

Not every season has been like this one with the Streak secured after five games. Three times – 1971,1987 and 1996 – it came down to the final game. On the other hand, many years The Streak has been safely clinched well before the end of the season.

In one third of the 60 seasons of The Streak, Linfield went unbeaten and the Wildcats have won 30 conference titles while sharing another seven.

Since 1955, Linfield has appeared in the NAIA or NCAA national playoffs 26 times, winning NAIA Division II national titles in 1982, 1984 and 1986 and the NCAA Division III national championship in 2004. The Wildcats reached the national final in three other seasons: 1961, 1965 and 1992.

Although Linfield normally faces small college opponents from the Northwest United States, they have also played and beaten some pretty impressive larger schools including Boise State who they beat in 1968, Hawaii and Portland State.

What is very interesting is that the team has only had five head coaches in the 60 years of the Streak. That speaks of a level of continuity almost unmatched. In that time span, the New York Giants have had 11 head coaches, the Alabama Crimson Tide, a model of stability, has also seen 11 head coaches on the sideline and UCLA has been guided by 10 head coaches.

Linfield’s five head coaches have all been products of the school:
Paul Durham, 90-16-6 (during The Streak) from 1956-67
Ad Rutschman, 182-49-3 from 1968-91
Ed Langsdorf, 32-9-1 from 1992-95
Jay Locey, 84-18 from 1996-2005
Joseph Smith, 87-17 from 2006-present

The Streak was not a topic of discussion until 1998 when Linfield broke the 42 season record held by Harvard (1881-1923) and Notre Dame (1889-1932). (Central of Iowa later matched that mark from 1961-2002.). So now the Wildcats continue and the tiny non-scholarship school which prides itself on family and unity, both within the football team and the entire school, will begin the journey to extend the Streak to decade number seven.

With information from Sports Illustrated and The Oregonian.

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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