After a summer of examining fan quality in the NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL, and College Basketball, finally we get to the most important sport in the South, College Football. The winner this year (and last year) and probably into the distant future in our ranking of college football fan bases is the University of Texas. It’s not close. Following Texas, we have a top 5 of Notre Dame, Georgia, Florida, and Auburn.
One notable loser from our previous rankings is Penn State. The Nittany Lions dropped from the top ten to number sixteen. And what about other power schools like Alabama and LSU? They finished 11th and 12th, respectively.
Our approach is data and statistically driven, as we look at how fans support their teams after controlling for how well the team performs on the field, the market it plays in, and school characteristics. For the fan equity analysis, we build a statistical model using publicly available data from the last fourteen years that predicts team revenues as a function of metrics related to team performance such as winning percentage, bowl participation, and other factors such as number of students, stadium capacity, etc. We then compare actual revenues over the last few years to what is predicted by our model. Please click here for an explanation of why we use this approach to fan equity measurement. Click here for more information on the methodologies behind our studies of fan quality in general.
A Closer Look at the SEC
The discussion of the conferences with highest fan equity begins and ends with the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Six of the top twelve overall college football teams in our rankings are from the SEC. For the second straight year, UGA tops our ranking of SEC college football fan equity. [For more on the overall study and methodology, please click here]
When we examine the SEC Fan Equity rankings from last year, the top 5 teams are the same except for Arkansas replacing Texas A&M. The teams near the bottom are also relatively unchanged. For those who are wondering why Georgia is ahead of Alabama, our explanation from last year still applies:
“The University of Georgia has the number one ranked football fan base in the SEC according to our study. It should be pointed out that this study covers a ten year period, and that the top four ranked schools in the SEC are also among the top ranked football fan bases in the country. So, what separates Georgia from Alabama? Over the period of our study, both Georgia and Alabama averaged between 9 and 10 wins a season. However, Georgia averaged 12% more in revenues per year than Alabama. Alabama also had a couple of years in the beginning of our sample (2002 & 2004) where the home games were not all filled to capacity. Thus, over the period of our study, when we control for team performance and other institutional factors, the Georgia fan base is just a bit more loyal and devoted.”
So why did Arkansas move up the rankings? We believe that this could in part be due to enthusiasm resulting from the hiring of Coach Bielema. Revenues were up for the Razorbacks last year and attendance remained relatively unchanged, despite winning less than the previous year.
Ranking the Best & Worst in Each Power Conference
Ranking the Best in the Non-Power Conferences
Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi, Emory University 2014