12 Teams That Sucked After Winning a Title
Winning a championship has long been said to be the pinnacle of any athlete's career.
You don't need to look further than what it has done to someone like LeBron James' ultimate legacy to see how slipping on a ring—or two—changes the perception of a guy, taking them from great individual success to irreplaceable team success.
But while hoisting a championship trophy is great, repeating the feat isn't exactly easy.
There have been plenty of teams that have gone "all-in" for a title one year, only to have a major fire sale the next. Or, because of injuries, went from the top of the standings to the bottom faster than they could even dust off their rings.
So take a look at these 12 teams who, after winning a title the season before, found themselves going from champs to chumps.
12. 2007-08 A.C. Milan
Getty Images/Getty Images
Championship Season Record: Champions League Winners, 4th in Serie A
Follow-Up Season Record: Champions League Round of 16, 5th in Serie A
Although the team did have what was thought of as the easiest group of any club in the Champions League in 2006-07, Milan was still able to avenge an earlier loss to Premier League team, Liverpool, to capture its first European title since 2002-03.
Their encore though? Well, Rossoneri wasn't quite as lucky.
While they did win the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, they were only able to reach the Round of 16 in the Champions League, leaving fans quite disappointed in the attempt to repeat as winners.
Dipping to fifth in the Serie A standing only added to the frustration.
11. 2011 Auburn Football
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Championship Season Record: 14-0 (8-0 SEC)
Follow-Up Season Record: 8-5 (4-4 SEC)
Following the magical run to the school's first national title since 1957 in 2010 on the shoulders of Heisman trophy-winning quarterback, Cam Newton, Auburn fans knew the team would fall back a little bit, but they probably didn't think the Tigers would barely be over .500 in the regular season.
From the very beginning, fans could tell the season would be a struggle, as the Tigers survived a serious scare from Utah State (at home), prevailing 42-38 in the first game of the season.
The rest of the season lacked any consistency, as the team traded wins for losses, with its only recourse being a Chick-fil-A Bowl victory over Virginia.
It wasn't miserable, but coming off an undefeated season, it wasn't ideal either.
10. 2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Championship Season Record: 12-4
Follow-Up Season Record: 7-9
After looking at the 2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it's a little odd to see how or why they won five less games following their Super Bowl-winning season.
At first glance, you'd think it was inconsistency at quarterback. But, while former signal-caller, Brad Johnson, wasn't burning up the record books, he did start every game for the team—only being relieved by backup Shaun King three times.
Then you look at the defense. But even that side of the ball remained intact, allowing just 16.5 points per game and ranking second in total defense.
If anything, it seems the tension between former receiver Keyshawn Johnson—who was deactivated and traded 10 games into the season—and then head coach Jon Gruden and the front office is what ultimately did this team in.
9. 2007 Florida Football
Marc Serota/Getty Images
Championship Season Record: 13-1 (7-1 SEC)
Follow-Up Season Record: 9-4 (5-3 SEC)
It wasn't as if the 2006 Florida Gators were a complete powerhouse or anything.
Sure, they did win the national title by completely embarrassing Ohio State, 41-14, and were a Top 10 team in the preseason, but many believed Auburn would represent the SEC in the national championship game, not the Gators.
With then sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow taking over the offense full-time, it was the '07 version that was supposed to do big things.
But things didn't go as expected, as the Gators had absolutely no offense besides Tebow—who went on to win the Heisman trophy—and not only fell to the middle of the pack in the SEC Standings, but lost in the Capital One Bowl to Michigan.
The program wasn't down long though, as they rebounded the following year to win their second title in three years, defeating Oklahoma, 24-14.
8. 2006-07 Carolina Hurricanes
Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images
Championship Season Record: 52-22-8
Follow-Up Season Record: 40-34-8
After finishing tied for third in the NHL with 112 points in their championship season of 2005-06, the Carolina Hurricanes took a serious dip when trying to repeat their feat.
With few changes made to the roster in hopes that the Cup-winning squad could duplicate their success, the 'Canes saw young stars Eric Staal (100 points to 70) and Cam Ward's production regress, while also battling some injuries, causing them to finish 11th in the Eastern Conference.
Missing out on the playoffs in 2007, they became the first Stanley Cup champ to miss the postseason the following years since the 1995-96 Devils.
7. 2006 Pittsburgh Steelers
Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Championship Season Record: 11-5
Follow-Up Season Record: 8-8
After making the playoffs in four the previous five seasons—while winning the Super Bowl in 2005—the Steelers were used to success.
And while their 8-8 record in 2006 isn't as bad as it probably could have been, the team did finish third in the AFC North and saw themselves drop three-straight at two different times in the season.
Fans probably could have seemed this coming early on, as their star quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, was involved in a near-death motorcycle accident prior to the season when he was hit by a car without wearing a helmet, and then required an emergency appendectomy in which he lost 15 pounds.
Luckily, Big Ben was OK, but it caused unnecessary headlines and disorganization for a team already dealing with a ton of press from their Super Bowl win the previous season.
6. 2007-08 Florida Men's Basketball
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Championship Season Record: 35-5 (13-3 SEC)
Follow-Up Season Record: 24-12 (8-8 SEC)
Not sure if it was just bad timing or there really is something in the water in Gainesville, but after ruling college athletics from 2006-07—where the school won a football title and two men's basketball championships—the Gators found themselves on the wrong end of things the following season.
Forced to replace one of the most cohesive units in recent memory when back-to-back champs like Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer who left for the NBA, coach Billy Donovan was challenged to start a whole new starting five, hurting the team's chances of competing.
Although they did reach the semis of the NIT that year, it took a serious run to get there, as they went just 6-9 in their last 15 games—with three of those wins coming in the postseason tourney.
5. 1999 Denver Broncos
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Championship Season Record: 14-2
Follow-Up Season Record: 6-10
Coming off back-to-back Super Bowl titles under the leadership of former quarterback, John Elway, the Denver Broncos probably had an idea that they'd struggle to find success in the year following the legend's retirement.
Well, they were right.
With Brian Griese starting 13 games—in which he compiled just a 4-9 record—along with former All-Pro running back Terrell Davis battling injuries and only rushing for 211 yards all year, fans in the Mile High City saw their team fall from first to worst in the AFC West.
4. 2013 San Francisco Giants
Championship Season Record: 94-68
Follow-Up Season Record: 73-85 (With four games remaining)
At the beginning of the season, it wasn't too far-fetched to think that the Giants had a serious chance of winning another World Series title—which would have been their third in four seasons.
With a young, solid pitching staff, timely hitting and good defense, the Giants seemed to be the class of the National League.
But due to the lack of offense, things fell apart quickly for the team by McCovey Cove, as they currently sit with the second fewest homers in the N.L. and scoring the fifth fewest runs in the league.
All this has led to this fan maybe having the most memorable play in San Fran this season, as well as being only the second team in MLB history to finish dead last in its division following a World Series title.
3. 2012-13 Kentucky Men's Basketball
Championship Season Record: 38-2 (16-0 SEC)
Follow-Up Season Record: 21-12 (12-6 SEC)
As a Kentucky grad, I—along with my boss at B/R, Matt King—am not proud to add my beloved Wildcats as high on this list as they are, but unfortunately, they did a hell of a job earning it with their performance last season.
With seven guys leaving to turn pro—which included a record six guys actually getting drafted—Big Blue only returned one key contributor (Kyle Wiltjer) to last year's team—and boy did it show.
Struggling to find a leader or identity, the young Cats didn't just fall short of the NCAA tournament—instead earning a No. 1-seed in the NIT—but abruptly lost to Robert Morris in the first-round.
It was definitely embarrassing, but at least UK has a chance to redeem themselves this season as the two squads play again, this time in Lexington.
2. 1998-99 Chicago Bulls
Championship Season Record: 62-20
Follow-Up Season Record: 13-37
When you lose guys with the last names of Jordan, Pippen and Rodman, that's a pretty good recipe for a disastrous season—and it's safe to say that's what the Bulls encountered.
Hiring Tim Floyd to replace the legendary Phil Jackson as head coach, starting guys who had no business even playing valuable minutes in an NBA game and, at one point, scoring an NBA-record low for points in a game (49), Chicago fell completely flat on its face in winning just 13 games following their last title in 1998.
The best thing that happened to the Bulls and its fans? Not only was the season was locked out—shortening the amount of games to 50—but the team's ineptitude landed them the top pick in the draft, where they selected Elton Brand.
1. 1998 Florida Marlins
Image via Associated Press
Championship Season Record: 92-70
Follow-Up Season Record: 54-108
In the history of teams with the ultimate sucktitude following a championship season, who but the Florida Marlins could hold down the top spot?
As you can see, absolutely no one.
Hoping to compete for a world title following a disappointing 80-82 season in 1996, the front office hired Jim Leyland as manager and signed Bobby Bonilla to team with former All-Star Gary Sheffield in the outfield.
The result was a 92-70 record and a Wild Card berth, as they mixed young guys like Livan Hernandez with veterans like Kevin Brown and Al Leiter.
But before the streets could even be cleaned from the victory parade, the front office gutted the roster, shedding nearly $40 million in payroll in what is arguable the biggest fire sale in sports, leaving the team in a position to fail, which it did, finishing a miserable 54-108.
Had we all not known better, these guys could have won more games than the real Marlins that year.