College football players have to put in a lot of time and effort to reach the peak athleticism necessary to crash against an equally buff opponents in a bout for supremacy, but the true reward for them isn’t the trophy they get for winning or the potential to go pro after college. No, every college athlete lives and dies for the endless adoration of the fans. Nobody screams, cheers or chants quite as loud and violently as college football fans. After all, the team spirit of the sport is reflective of the college they come from and nobody wants to think that they’re putting themselves in years of debt to go to a losing school. So college students love the thrill of watching their classmates go to war on a 100-yard field and aren’t above losing their cool to vehemently throw their support behind their fellows. But which schools have the best fans? Which teams inspire the most lucid aggression and animosity in their followers? Which teams should you always support at a home game or risk being trampled to death?
In good old Massachusetts, the Fightin’ Irish aren’t just a local staple or even just a respected institution. They’re a legacy, a football dynasty stretching back over a hundred years with third, fourth and now even fifth generation fans packing Notre Dame Stadium for every game. Fans are religiously loyal to the Leprechaun because their parents were, and so were their parents’ parents. And if you dare to come to a game not wearing green for good luck, these fans will show you a beating that only drunk Bostonians can deliver, followed by a chorus of “You think you’re better than me?”s.
University of Florida
When you face off against the Gators, getting to the field in one piece can be half the battle. Nicknamed ‘The Swamp,’ Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is definitively Gator country, home to legions of screaming fans who are so dead-set on intimidating the opposing team that you could almost believe they were getting paid for it. Exercise caution if you go to a home game and aren’t an ardent supporter of the blue and orange. After all, this is Florida we’re talking about here, who knows what could happen to you.
West Virginia University
The West Virginia Mountaineers aren’t exactly the most well-known team in the league, but their fans regularly burn couches to celebrate victories so they must be doing something right. The town of Morgantown, West Virginia, which the fans routinely turn into a giant tailgate before games, passed laws specifically outlawing the pyromantic practice which were almost immediately ignored. When your fans are ready, willing and able to go against the law to set upholstery on fire in your honor, you know you got something special on your hands.
How do you know if the Clemson Tigers are in town? You could either look up at the unbreakable wall of orange-painted college kids moving past your window or you could look down at any random dollar bill you picked up in the last few days to see if it’s been stamped with the signature paw print, a practice Tiger fans have been pushing for years so that at local businesses will unintentionally show support for Clemson during away games. Pretty sneaky tactic for people who typically wear nothing but briefs and orange body paint.
University of Oaklahoma
The University of Oklahoma has some of the best football side-aspects of any team. They have a cool mascot, an iconic symbol and one of the most famous fight songs in the history of the sport. And it’s all possible thanks to the loyal fans who fill Memorial Stadium with the classic ‘Boomer Sooner’ chant for every single game. Often decked out in red and white and more often than not joined by legendary commentator Jim Ross, Oklahoma fans are arguably the most ardent and fervent of the Big 12.
There’s a sign in Kyle Stadium that reads ‘Home of the 12th man.’ It’s a reference to E. King Gill, a squad player who aided in a David-and-Goliath style victory for the A&M Aggies in 1922, but has been adopted by the team’s fanatical followers as a slogan to represent them. With their unending chants and die-hard support, the wave of fans are essentially an extra player that the team can call upon at a moment’s notice to raise spirit and morale.
University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Some fans make this list for their unusual or violent forms of supporting their teams. Some make the list for embracing classic team traditions with an unbridled passion. Fans of the Nebraska Cornhuskers make this list for selling out every home game for the past 56 years. For almost 400 games since 1962, over 90,000 fans have filled the bleachers of Memorial Stadium to show support for their beloved Huskers, painting the entire arena red with their team paraphernalia.
Louisiana State University
When even the legendary Alabama coach Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant calls your stadium “the worst place in the world for a visiting team,” then you know your fans have your back in the most spectacular way possible. LSU fans are known to be so rowdy, violent and zealous that Tiger Stadium is nicknamed ‘Death Valley.’ Most terrifying is their endurance, deafening cheers are known to fill the stadium for the full length of the game with no pauses or interruptions for any reason.
University of Texas – Austin
If football is a religion in Texas, then Austin is the Vatican. And using that metaphor, the iconic ‘Hook’em Horns’ gesture that fans of the Longhorns have used for decades as a tribute to their team is the equivalent of crossing oneself. At every single game, these fans raise their arms in the famous salute from the tailgate all the way to the closing play. Such devotion makes sense as these aren’t so many fans of a teams as they are worshipers of a rotating and aggressive band of apostles.
University of Alabama
You just knew the Crimson Tide had to appear somewhere on this list. With a crowd ranging from students to faculty to townies to just random rednecks floating about the south, Alabama has become the undisputed pride of the SEC and arguably the most beloved team in college football. And with Alabama’s current record and numerous trophies, it’s entirely possible that the team’s success if a direct reflection of the passion and faith their fans have in them.