The biggest Cinderella seasons in college sports feature inspirational stories of NCAA athletic teams who beat out all the odds and defied the expert predictions to pull some of the biggest upsets in college sports. These teams were never expected to even compete on the same level as the big dogs in their respective sports but that didn't stop them from shocking the world with their success.
The term Cinderella season was first coined back in 1939 when the City College of New York unexpectedly won the NCAA Men's Basketball title against all odds. This feat not only made the term Cinderella a common way to describe a sports team who accomplished the unthinkable but also paved the way for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, also known as March Madness, to take on the nickname of "The Big Dance," which paid homage to the Cinderella fairy tale.
It's hard to compare different Cinderella college sports teams to one another as each sport is different and each team has overcome a different type of adversity en route to success. It's perhaps easiest to identify these teams in college basketball, where Cinderella teams like the 2006 George Mason Patriots, 1985 Villanova Wildcats and 2010 Butler Bulldogs were each were seeded very low in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament but upset their highly favored opponents to reach as far as the national championship.
NCAA Football also sees it's fair share of Cinderella teams with no shortage of college bowl game upsets
each year, such as the 1995 Northwestern Wildcats or the 2006 Boise State Broncos but one of the best Cinderella teams actually came from college baseball. In 2008, the Fresno State Bulldogs barely qualified for the Western Athletic Conference Tournament but went on to not just win the WAC Tournament, but also go on to win the College World Series to bring the university its first athletic championship in school history.
These Cinderella college sports teams all made a statement that even in the face of adversity, great things can happen when you give it your all. They might not have been the fastest, biggest or most talented, but they had the heart and determination to become champions, and many became just that.