You aren’t as different as you think, Big Ten fans and SEC fans. Same goes for you, Big 12 fans. And those Pac-10 fans over there may crave spicy tuna rolls instead of brats or barbecue, but they consider Saturday just as sacred as you do.
You all prefer the pageantry of college football to the sterile NFL. Most of you watch at least four games a week, and the truly depraved from every conference fan base — more than half of you, actually — watch college football on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
How do we know this? You told us. In October, we asked college football fans of all stripes to tell us about themselves. We received 33,144 responses to questions such as “What is your favorite team?” and “How closely do you follow recruiting?” We received responses from fans of all 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and everyone’s answers counted the same — whether they came from Ohio State fans (the most, with 2,004 responses) or Florida Atlantic fans (the fewest, with four responses).
One chunk of data jumped off the spreadsheet. We often hear fans from the Big Ten, Pac-10, Big East, ACC and Big East complaining that the media overhype the SEC. Well guess what? It isn’t us. It’s you.
We asked fans what conference other than their team’s league played the most enjoyable brand of football. More than a third (11,497) of the total respondents picked the SEC, which is dramatic considering 6,987 voters identified themselves as fans of SEC teams and couldn’t pick their own conference. We also asked fans which conference, outside their own, was the strongest on a year-to-year basis. The SEC won in a landslide, receiving 21,000-plus votes, or 80.4 percent of the fans of the other 10 FBS conferences and independents. Most SEC fans, meanwhile, considered the Big 12 as the strongest and most enjoyable conference outside of the SEC.
We also learned that while the largest concentration of recruitniks dwell in SEC country, the average fan in all 11 conferences doesn’t obsessively follow college football’s hot stove league. More than half of all respondents said they follow recruiting either casually or not at all. The fan bases most obsessed with five-stars, solid verbals and heavy leans were the SEC and Independents (mostly Notre Dame fans). More than half of the respondents in those leagues said they either follow recruiting “very closely” or consider themselves full-blown recruitniks.