Comments about ‘NCAA tournament notebook: Utah's 1944 NCAA title team honored’

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Published: Saturday, March 23 2013 9:20 p.m. MDT

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Murray, UT

Well, this official recognition by the NCAA should put an end to all the BYU naysayers that have claimed for 69 years that Utah's 1944 national title was somehow not legitimate. Thank you Utah and the NCAA.

Elmer Fudd
Sandy, Utah

"Utah's 1944 NCAA title team honored"

Wow DNews! BYU bias at it's finest! Not once in this article did DNews mention that Utah's 1944 NCAA title was a National Championship. A few weeks ago when BYU honored their 1951 NIT championship team and retired one or two of their players jerseys. The DNews instantly claimed they were National Champions when the NCAA tournament was more prestigious that year. But they refuse to give Utah credit for their 1944 NCAA title team that the NCAA themselves recognizes as National Champions of 1944.

Like Dutchman said, the NCAA recognized Utah's 1944 team as National Champions. Even CBSSports had an Ultimate Bracket that had all 74 previous NCAA National Champions in their bracket and Utah's 1944 team was in the bracket.

Scott Farcus
Beaver, UT

Hey DNews Dutchman and Fudd bring out a very glaring and obvious point. The DNews sport writers (all Y Alum) continually show their bias by just writhing about the Y.

DNews needs to wake up and look at the number of articles written about the Y to the U. Hire some U sports writers, lets even it out.

Your paper is Deseret News not BYU News. The first higher education institution formed in Utah was the UofU right here in the land of milk and honey.

Fat chance this gets posted.

Truth Machine
Salt Lake City, UT

Utah won the 1944 NCAA tournament, NOT the 1944 National Championship!

Even Utah's own actions prove which tournament was considered the elite tournament of the day. The Utes turned down their invitation to the NCAA to play in the NIT. It wasn't until after the Utes had LOST to Kentucky in the opening round of the NIT, that the Utes accepted an invitation to the NCAA after Arkansas's team bus crashed and the Razorbacks were forced to withdraw from the NCAA.

Utah's Entire 1944 Season Record - 6-1

Idaho State W 54-43 Salt Lake City
Colorado College W 48-34 Colorado Springs
Idaho State W 52-40 Pocatello

Kentucky L 38-46 New York, NY

NCAA Tournament
Missouri W 45-35 Kansas City, MO
Iowa State W 40-31 Kansas City, MO
Dartmouth (OT) W 42-40 New York, NY

The NIT also declared their champion, St. Johns, as the 1944 National Champion.

The only neutral organization to select a national champion in 1944, the Helms Athletic Foundation, named Army as the 1944 National Champion.


Truth Machine, the Helms Foundation was started to retroactively vote on the best basketball team prior to any national tournaments. The #1 voting is nice bragging rights, but is still debatable. Tournament results are not. Army may very well have been the best team in 1944, and deserving of a #1 voting, but they didn't play in a postseason tournament, so "champion" is a questionable title to give them. It's funny, though, that I've never seen West Point claim a national championship in basketball, but many BYU fans are up in arms about it.


@truth machine/duckhunter

So, with your line of "reasoning", if BYU wins the NIT this year, then they are the rightful National Champions, right?

Nice try.

The bottom line is, the NCAA tournament winner has been acknowledged as the National Champion since 1939. Look up any national collegiate website for proof of this.

As far as questionable National Chamipionships are concerned, that would be relegated to the supposed 1984 football "national championship" claimed by your school, who played a 6-6 Michigan team in a minor bowl and won by 7 points. Utah has more claim to a National Championship in either 2004 or 2008 than your school does.

Two For Flinching
Salt Lake City, UT

@ Truth Machine

You are mistaken about how Utah's '44 season played out. Utah's record that year was 18-3. Utah's coach Vadal Peterson said the 'redskins' turned down a bid to the NCAA tournament because, 'they wouldn't guarantee us our expenses and they wouldn't give us a cut of the gate receipts.'

After Utah lost in the NIT, Peterson got the call from the NCAA and after several hours of negotiation the NCAA agreed to Utah's terms. Utah then rattled off wins against Missouri, Iowa State, and Dartmouth for the championship.

Two days later, in front of 18,125 people in the Madison Square Garden, Arnie Ferrin and the Redskins beat the NIT champion St. John's to capture what was called the unofficial college title. That is how the original Cinderella team found its slipper.

There is a great article about it in the March 18, 1963 edition of Sports Illustrated called 'Reprieve for the Redskins'. I'm sure you could track it down fairly easily with your preferred search engine.

Elmer Fudd
Sandy, Utah

@ Broken "Truth" Machine

Sorry dude! The NCAA recognizes Utah's 1944 NCAA title as a "National Championship". Utah's 1944 team was recognized last night by the NCAA themselves during the Arizona game in Salt Lake City. You can spin it all you want. But the NCAA says differently from a Cougie fan in denial!

Springville, UT

Something that happened 69 years ago and it still has an asterisk by it. LOL


@Two For Flinch

Thank you for mentioning that article from Sports Illustrated, it was a great read. I don't think a lot of the haters here realize that not only did Utah win the NCAA National Championship, they then beat the NIT champs in the garden two days later to remove all doubt. For those misguided and bothered cougs who are still trying to twist 1944 into something other than a National Championship for Utah, read the article and get back to us. Or don't.

Scott Farcus
Beaver, UT

@ sammygwhizz

"Something that happened 69 years ago and it still has an asterisk by it"

Yeah your right! It's the same asterisk like the one by the 1984 football national championship that happened 29 years ago.

Naval Vet
Philadelphia, PA


It wouldn't be the "same" asterisk, as that would have implied there was something undeserved about it. Utah EARNED their National Championship. The Indy-WACers did NOT. They backed into it, just like Hawaii and No. Illinois backed into their respective BCS bowls.

Palo Alto, CA


Not counting pick up games against "teams" like Bushnell Hospital and Ecker Studio, Utah won less than half as many basketball games in 1944 as BYU won football games in 1984.

That's not hyperbole, that's an actual, verifiable FACT!

After beating Idaho State(twice) and Colorado College(once), the Utes lost in the opening round of the big boy tournament of the day, before winning the most water-down NCAA tournament in history. The only thing the Utes "earned" was a meaningless banner from a meaningless tournament played during the height of World War II when most schools had suspended their basketball programs and the few teams still remaining were composed mostly of Freshmen and a few Sophomores, because every able-bodied man over the age of 18 was busy fighting or preparing to fight a world war.

Baltimore, MD


One would assume that a "naval vet", especially, would understand the insignificance of winning meaningless basketball tournament during the middle of a world war.

It would be interesting to know what the actual SOS would be for a team whose entire regular season schedule consisted of THREE college opponents and EIGHTEEN pick up games.

Cottonwood Heights, UT

Sounds like a few people are extremely insecure about their '84 shampionship and are in desperate need of finding company. Sorry, no company here, 1944 is for real, just like the rest of Utah's rich tournament history. Deal with it Cougies.

Y's little brother
Sandy, UT



BYU was recognized as the CONSENSUS 1984 National Champions by ALL FIVE MAJOR national selecting organizations including the AP and Coaches Polls.

Outside of the NCAA trying to usurp the rightful claims of teams who won national championships before the NCAA tournament gained acceptance as the premier post season basketball tournament, cite one single national organization that recognized Utah as the 1944 national champion.


Nobody is claiming that Utah's 1944 basketball team would beat the Miami Heat. But they earned every bit of praise and recognition that they are given as national champions by what they accomplished that season, as hard as that is for people that hate the University fight to deny it. In many ways, it parallels the 1982-83 NC State team in the adversity they had to overcome, some fortune granted them, and what they achieved in spite of the doubts.

Interesting some would cite the war as an excuse for Utah achieving it, because the same war took almost all of Utah's entire team, forcing them to hold tryouts just to field a team. Another consequence of the war is that Dartmouth gained two all-american players because of the military training going on on their campus and the players had to transfer from their previous schools to Dartmouth. But Utah beat this team in the championship game. Also interesting to note that these "pickup" games were against teams that featured professional players.


I have no problem recognizing BYU's 1984 team for what they accomplished. I have a friend who played on that team, and think it's pretty cool hearing some of his memories from that year. Were they world beaters? No. But they did what they had to do and a special set of circumstances played out fortuitously for them to gain recognition as national champions. I find it ironic and unfortunate, though, that those who benefited from those circumstances to claim that recognition today are so hardheaded to recognize a similar situation for a different team. And that obviously goes for the hardheaded Ute fans as well.

However, this article is about the 1944 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP UTAH BASKETBALL TEAM. For great perspectives on this team, that "Reprieve for the Redskins" article is a great one, as is Sports Illustrated's 2010 story "Utah the First Cinderella". The second is quite long, but a very good read.

Elmer Fudd
Sandy, Utah

@ Y's Little Brother Syndrome

"BYU was recognized as the CONSENSUS 1984 National Champions by ALL FIVE MAJOR national selecting organizations including the AP and Coaches Polls"

BYU didn't WIN a National Championship, they didn't even play for one. The 1984 BYU football team was VOTED National Champions by those organizations. Being VOTED National Champions is completely different from PLAYING and WINNING a National Championship.

The difference between BYU's 1984 National Championship in football and Utah's 1944 National Championship in basketball is Utah won their National Championship in a tournament, BYU got their National Championship by the polls.

Salt Lake City, UT


"BYU didn't WIN a National Championship..."

Actually they did, finishing with a 24-game winning streak, including beating THREE teams that finished in the Top 25.

The Cougars WON the AP and Coaches National Championships in EXACTLY the same way EVERY national championship has been won since the first AP poll in 1936 - by winning enough respect by a majority of the poll voters to finish #1 in the final poll.

It's laughable that Utah fans cite their #4 and #2 finishes in the AP as "legitimate", while refusing to accept the legitimacy of BYU's #1 finish in 1984.

There's NEVER been an AP National Champion that hasn't been VOTED National Champion.

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