These College Football Fans Are Crazier Than You

  • Nittanyville
    10. Penn State Nittany Lions

    The pride and joy of Penn State’s football fanbase is “Nittanyville.” Formerly referred to as “Paternoville” (we all know what happened there), Nittanyville is the name of a tradition that began in 2005 in which students camp out in front of Beaver Stadium prior to a home game in hopes of getting in line for the best possible seats. It has become such a big event on campus that players, the band, and even local food vendors show out to pay a visit to the dedicated fans.

    On game day, fans fill up Happy Valley by the hundreds of thousands. At 106, 572 capacity, the Nittany Lions’ stadium is the second largest in college football. While Penn State fans aren’t the rowdiest of the bunch, those numbers alone are deafening for opponents. Hail, sleet, or snow, before every home game, fans set up their tailgate stations and await the arrival of the blue school busses carrying the football team. If that’s not loyalty, we don’t know what is.

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    image via Penn State

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  • 9. Florida Gators

    If you ever happen to forget what the team colors of the Florida Gators are, don’t worry because the fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium will surely remind you. You see, one of the most notable traditions down in The Swamp—the nickname coined by former Florida head coach Steve Spurrier—is the “Orange and Blue” chant. Something that is best experienced from the stands, the entire stadium splits up into two, while one side proclaims “Orange” and the other, “Blue.” It’s a deafening sound that surely gets into the heads of the opposition.

    Prior to the start of every home game, and following a montage of real-life gators on the jumbotron, the PA announcer welcomes the crowd with his classic “heeeeeeeeere come the Gators” routine—sort of a cue for the 90,000-plus fans to get rowdy. Then, before the start of the final quarter, the entire crowd stands up and sings “We are the Boys” in unison. Not to be mistaken with a Wiz Khalifa song, “We are the Boys” is a college unity song written by two Florida students back in 1919. Following each.

    To wrap up the on-field festivities on game day, after a win, the entire team and coaching staff walk over to the band and sing the school alma mater. Oh, and there’s also the trademark “Gator Chomp,” which many of you may have seen or heard of.

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  • Texas A&M
    8. Texas A&M Aggies

    All you need to know about Texas A&M is the 12th Man. Okay fine, so there are other traditions at A&M than just the 12th Man, a permanent name given to the collective Aggies fans. However, it’s the one that matters the most, and the one that best defines the team’s fanbase. The 12th Man is a way to show the 11 players on the field that Aggies fans have their back. The moniker can be seen scribed all around the confines of Kyle Field. To take their team spirit to the extreme, the entire student body stands throughout the game.

    The Texas A&M football team also has the support of the largest military marching in the band, with over 400 members from the school’s Corps of Cadets sounding out the “Aggie War Hymn” or “The Spirit of Aggieland.” Another game day tradition down in College Station is Midnight Yell Practice, which is a pep rally held the midnight before a football game.

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    image via Aggie Network/Flickr Creative Commons

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  • Michigan
    7. Michigan Wolverines

    With 913 wins on its resume, Michigan is the winningest college football program of all time. That type of success is bound to attract the masses. With so many fans to cater to, Michigan Stadium was the first college-owned football stadium to seat more than 100,000. Today, the “Big House” averages 111,000-plus (the most of any college football venue) screaming Wolverine fans at every home game.

    These days Michigan fans have fallen on hard times, with their team unable to find their rhythm on the gridiron. Many students have even taken to protest to oust current head coach Brady Hoke and/or AD Dave Brandon, showing just how passionate fans are about their football down in Ann Arbor. Win or lose, however, that iconic “Go Blue” spirit is unlikely to fade anytime soon.

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    image via University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment/Flickr Creative Commons

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  • Death Valley
    6. LSU Tigers

    LSU’s Tiger Stadium technically may not be the biggest college football venue in terms of capacity, however Death Valley (as it’s commonly referred to) is arguably the most intimidating place to enter for both opposing teams and their fans. When it comes to their football, Tigers fans are loud and proud. LSU home games attract close to 100,000 fans each game, and boy do they make their presence felt. Following a game-winning touchdown against Auburn back in 1988, the crowd got so loud that it was rumored to have registered as a small earthquake on the Richter scale.

    From “Geaux Tigers” to “Hold that Tiger” to “Tiger Bait, Tiger Bait,” you’ll hear plenty of different chants at a LSU game, in addition, of course, to hearing the song “Eye of the Tiger” blasting on the stadium speakers. Night games are particularly a big draw for LSU fans, but let’s not forget the Cajun-influenced tailgating that you’d find in a place like Baton Rouge.

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  • Texas
    5. Texas Longhorns

    From the pro league all the way down to Pop Warner, football culture is undeniably ingrained into the lives of Texans perhaps unlike any other state in the country. The passion for football in the Lone Star State is felt most on the collegiate level, where fans can’t get enough of their Aggies, Bears, Red Raiders, Mustangs, Horned Frogs, or what have you. Though, the team that best represents what Texas football culture is all about is the Longhorns.

    A program that is all too familiar with winning (the school has four national championships, the most recent one in 2005), the University of Texas has a fanbase that shows out to games by the numbers. At just a hair under 100,000 fans per game, the program consistently ranks in the top five virtually every year in average attendance. On game day at the sprawling Austin campus, students and alums gather together in a herd of burnt orange and throw up their trademark “Hook ‘em Horns” sign, signifying school unity through the Longhorns mascot. The symbol is one that is widely recognized throughout both the college football world and pop culture. It has been displayed by the likes of presidents and celebrities, the most recent one being actor and diehard Longhorns fan Matthew McConaughey, who showed up to practice to deliver a little pep talk.

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  • Ohio State
    4. Ohio State Buckeyes

    Although Buckeye fans can be found spread out all over the country, the diehards congregate in Section 39A of Ohio Stadium. Block O, or the “Official Cheering Section” of the Buckeyes, is known for spreading team spirit (out loud) and for throwing up a large “O” on cards that takes up the entire section. While OSU’s schedule is constantly stacked with tough competition, every Buckeye—from player to fan—has the game against Michigan circled on their calendar. The rivalry, which dates all the way back to the late-1800s, is such a big deal that it has inspired an entire week (appropriately dubbed “Michigan Week”) on campus. As part of the celebratory week, students have been known to jump into Mirror Lake (located on campus) the Thursday before “The Game.”

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  • Notre Dame Stadium
    3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

    Like Cameron Indoor Stadium is to college hoops, Notre Dame Stadium is the Mecca of college football. Whether you know of it from watching Rudy finally get some playing time or from watching the Fighting Irish take down opponents, the stadium is the true essence of what big-time college football is all about: history, tradition, winning. The stadium lays claim to the second-longest sellout streak in college football, although the influence of Notre Dame football extends far beyond the confines of South Bend. While Notre Dame Stadium can hold only 80,795 fans—a relatively small number compared to some other stadiums around the country—the program just may have the largest national fanbase of ‘em all.

    Between the final two quarters of a home game, the Notre Dame Marching Band plays the finale to the “1812 Overture,” as the crowd joins in and wave their collective arms in a synchronized manner, spelling out the name of the coach at the time. Win or lose, the players show respect to the student section by raising their helmets into the air following the game.

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  • Alabama
    2. Alabama Crimson Tide

    Surely you’ve heard the “Roll Tide” rallying cry by now, whether it’s on one of many NCAA television commercials that air throughout the fall or on the University of Alabama campus. A phrase trademarked by the Crimson Tide, “Roll Tide” is the epitome of fandom in college football.

    The chant can be heard echoing through the crevasses of Bryant-Denny Stadium on game day, where the stadium’s sheer capacity makes it one of the toughest places to play in all of college football. What’s more is that Alabama fans come out by the hundreds of thousands, literally—last season ‘Bama was third in Division I FBS in average attendance with 101,505—to root their team on to victory (more often than not). For Alabama fans, the festivities begin long before a single snap takes place on the field.

    During spring training, the program consistently leads the nation in attendance (this year over 73,000 showed up to Alabama’s spring game). Once the season begins, two hours prior to each home game, fans clad in their finest Crimson attire congregate in front of the stadium and cheer on the arrival of the football squad in a ritual known as the “Walk of Champions.” That energy and excitement carries over into the actual stadium, where “Gumps” of all shapes and sizes fill the stands and get behind their beloved team. And with a national title in three of the last five years, the team rewards their efforts with the ultimate prize. It’s a (lovely) two-way street.

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    image via Mark Berry/Flickr Creative Commons

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  • Nebraska
    1. Nebraska Cornhuskers

    The Cornhuskers have plenty of history on the field to boast about, but it’s the ‘Huskers’ fans that make watching their beloved team play one of the most exciting game-day experiences in all of college football. Sure, Nebraska hasn’t been in the national championship conversation in recent years, but that hasn’t stopped the ‘Huskers faithful from filling up Memorial Stadium year after year. In fact, entering this season, Nebraska had sold out an impressive 333 consecutive home games over 52 seasons—a NCAA record that dates all the way back to 1962. It’s no wonder why every entrance at Memorial Stadium features a sign that reads: “Through these gates pass the Greatest Fans in College Football.”

    “The Sea of Red,” as diehard Nebraska fans are referred to, doesn’t just back its team during home games—it isn’t afraid to take the show on the road either. Back at the 2002 Rose Bowl, upwards of 60,000 ‘Huskers fans made the trek to Pasadena, California, where they eventually witnessed their team go down to Miami. Similarly, in a 2001 matchup against Notre Dame, more than 30,000 Nebraska fans descended upon South Bend, making what was supposed to be an away game look more like an all-red homecoming.

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    image via Aka Hige/Flickr Creative Commons

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  • Nittanyville
  • Texas A&M
  • Michigan
  • Death Valley
  • Texas
  • Ohio State
  • Notre Dame Stadium
  • Alabama
  • Nebraska

There are 128 teams in NCAA Division I college football, however, not all are created equally. The disparity between big-time conferences like the SEC, ACC, and PAC-12 and smaller ones like the Sun Belt and MAC is all too real. The big name programs in college football generally tend to attract all of the best recruits and national publicity, while smaller programs struggle just to feed their players and fill the seats.

Although college football as a whole is a sport that takes tradition and heritage very seriously, and there are tons of universities out there that have a storied history, relatively speaking, it’s the big schools–ones like Alabama, Texas, and Notre Dame–that tend to have the most elaborate fanbases. Schools that can afford to build massive stadiums that can hold upwards of 100,000 screaming fans generally don’t have a problem convincing people to come watch. These programs have fanbases that extend well beyond the walls of their respective campuses; they have fanbases that are more than willing to travel with their team and turn what’s supposed to be an away game into a home affair.

Honestly, these are the fans you wish you could be. Always rocking the squad’s jerseys. Always hosting game day parties. Always in tune with the team. Always down for the cause. You wish you could hold it down like that. Get rid of the excuses and check yourself at the door. Are you really giving it all? Is your fandom really that strong? It might be time to step it up.

With the college season in full swing, join us as we take a look at some These College Football Fans Are Crazier Than You.

Follow Gurvinder on Twitter at @gurvindersg

image via Penn State/Flickr Creative Commons