Hold on to your Wolverine-foamhead hats, Michigan fans. You really aren't going to enjoy reading this one.
Professors Lewis & Tripathi at Emory University, researchers who study sports marketing through advanced analytics, are conducting research on the "best" fanbases in college football. And their findings show that Ohio State is the cream of the Big Ten's crop, followed by second-place Penn State before Michigan rounds out the top three.
The full rankings are as follows:
The rankings are based on a metric called Revenue Premium Brand Equity, which is described in a separate blog post in the following way:
For the fan analyses, we build a statistical model that predicts team revenues as a function of metrics related to team performance such as winning percentage and bowl participation. We then compare actual revenues to what is predicted based purely on team performance (and other factors such as number of students, capacity, etc…).
For the conference analysis, we take a similar, but more financially oriented approach. This analysis also begins with a statistical model of team revenues, but now the explanatory variables primarily involve team expenditures. Team-level brand equity is then taken as the difference between actual revenues and revenues predicted based on expenditures. The logic of this approach is that teams with more powerful brands should be able to more efficiently increase revenues.
It's a scientific study that many fans—especially ones unhappy with their team's rank—are sure to take issue with. The researchers further expound upon their method here, dismissing critiques they've faced such as "passion," and whether or not that's able to be quantified.
Whether you agree with them or not, though, these findings do appear to have statistical merit on their side. And it's not like the men conducted the research are biased. On the contrary, both actually got Ph.Ds from Northwestern, who finished last on the list:
Other things of note include the low ranking from Wisconsin. Camp Randall Stadium is one of the most viscerally jarring atmospheres in college football, but apparently that experience doesn't translate to revenue.
They finished just sixth, behind Michigan State, a school whose passion is far more rabid in basketball than it ever has been in football.
There is something for all Big Ten fans to be excited about. According to the findings, only the SEC beats the Big Ten in Overall Brand Equity. That's a testament to all of the conference's fanbases and a nice consolation for those upset with their in-league ranking.
Not that Michigan will fans care.