Which College Football Teams Have The Most Fans?

Utah Utes University College Football

Photo: Flickr/Brenton Walker

New York Times numbers guru Nate Silver attempted to answer a tricky sports question today, by calculating which college football teams have the most fans.His survey isn’t very scientific and involves a lot of guess work, but it does dig up some interesting numbers not only about the fans, but where they are distributed throughout the country.

Silver determined that the three most popular schools (based on his criteria) are Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State.

All three are in the Big 10/Midwest, have giant home stadiums (for big attendance numbers), a lot of students, and huge alumni bases that don’t stay put after college.

That allows them to not only dominate the medium-sized TV markets near campus, but gain significant reach into other major markets around the country. (For example, Michigan has more fans in the fragmented New York City than most Big East schools, while Nebraska takes the Big 12’s complete dominance in Omaha to the Big 10.)

That reach becomes more significant in light of the recent (and upcoming) conference shuffling. Does adding Texas A&M (which has a significant national fan base) truly expand the SEC’s power? Or do Syracuse and Pittsburgh just give the ACC more of markets that it already has covered?

If the goal of any conference is national reach, the distribution of its fans is just as important as the total numbers.

Check out the post to read about Silver’s methodology and more findings >

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