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NCAA Football

College Football’s Most Engaged Fan Base Isn’t Who You Would Expect

College Football's Most Engaged Fans

Kirby Lee – USA TODAY SPORTS

Our friends at Austin, Texas based Ticket City have done a fascinating study based on a ton of ticketing trends for the 2012 college football season and passed their findings along to us to report to you. An algorithm was created to outline the most engaged fan bases in college football — fans that not only travel to their favorite team’s games in droves, but pay top dollar to do so.

These fans are also passionate about voicing opinions about their favorite teams across social media like Twitter and Facebook and the results show in the following that the game’s biggest programs have developed since social media became an absolute necessity for programs looking to keep up with the Joneses, or, in many cases, become one of them.

If you were to ask the average college football fan who the most engaged fan base in the game was, their most likely answer would be an SEC program. After all, it’s no secret that SEC fans are absurdly loyal — some would even say rabid — about their allegiances given the popularity of football in the South, but also the lack of an NFL presence which causes many to treat their Saturday habits as more important than the Sunday habits most have around the country.

So it’s an SEC program, right?

Wrong.

According to Ticket City’s data, the most engaged fan base in the country are the followers of ol’ Big Blue, the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan earned a score of 100 on the Ticket City algorithm which took several factors into consideration, including average total attendance, average home game attendance, average ticket price (all games), average home game ticket price, percentage of filled stadium capacity at home games, Facebook likes and “talking about” metrics, and overall Twitter following.

Michigan is one of three Big 10 schools in the Top 10 overall rankings, the others being the Ohio State Buckeyes (No. 4) and the Nebraska Corhuskers (No. 6). This data seems to back up Brady Hoke’s assertion from last season that Big 10 fan bases were just as passionate as those in the SEC and are getting more devoted all the time as their programs continue to compete in the game’s biggest post-season match-ups.

As one would expect, however, the SEC still rules the roost, with the most programs overall in the Top 25 of the rankings. Here’s the complete list:

Overall Top 25 Rankings
1 Big 10 University of Michigan 100.00
2 SEC Louisiana State University 95.43
3 SEC University of Alabama 95.18
4 Big 10 Ohio State University 92.94
5 SEC Texas A&M University 88.91
6 Big 10 University of Nebraska – Lincoln 87.88
7 Big 12 University of Oklahoma 82.77
8 Big 12 University of Texas – Austin 82.11
9 SEC University of Georgia 81.83
10 SEC University of Florida 79.86
11 Big 10 Penn State University 75.68
12 SEC University of South Carolina 72.13
13 Big 10 University of Iowa 72.08
14 Pac 12 University of Southern California 71.97
15 Pac 12 University of Oregon 70.53
16 Big 10 Michigan State University 70.52
17 SEC University of Tennessee 68.57
18 Big 10 University of Wisconsin – Madison 68.29
19 SEC Auburn University 66.40
20 ACC Clemson University 65.85
21 Big 12 West Virginia University 65.53
22 ACC Florida State University 63.92
23 SEC University of Missouri 63.82
24 SEC University of Arkansas 60.88
25 ACC Virginia Tech University 59.51

Here are a few other interesting takeaways from the Ticket City data:

1. Michigan’s average ticket price is low in comparison to the overall attendance they enjoy at the Big House on Saturdays. With the eighth overall average ticket price, Wolverine fans certainly get a nice bang for their buck. Michigan also rules the roost when it comes to social media as they have a total of 1,047,279 Facebook likes combined with 149,498 Twitter followers making them one of the most “connected” programs in college football.

2. The SEC had a total of five schools represented in the Top 10 of the rankings, with the LSU Tigers far and away leading the pack. The Tigers have more than two times the Facebook likes and nearly 23,000 more Twitter followers than their bitter rival, and the program so many love to hate, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama fans pay dearly to watch the Crimson & Cream, with $163 per ticket being the average, more than $30 greater than the next highest average price (LSU).

3. The Texas A&M Aggies made a huge splash onto the national scene in 2012 with their SEC debut behind the stellar play of Johnny Manziel, and did the same on the social media landscape. Aggie fans don’t spend much time on Facebook according to the data, but have been very present on Twitter, with nearly 12 times as many Twitter followers as Facebook likes for the program.

So, the next time you have an argument over who has the nation’s most passionate fans you have an easy answer. Now, can the Wolverines translate this support into success on the field?

We’ll find out in a few weeks.

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Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. You can follow Kris on TwitterGoogle and Facebook.