All Aboard the Train: The Top 10 College Football Bandwagon Fan Groups
Everyone loves a winner. That being said, there are some programs whose fans show up, regardless of the record, weather conditions, or prospects for a major bowl bid.
There are suffering fans in Ann Arbor who tolerate a hapless coach and little potential for the next few seasons to pack the Big House for every home game. Folks in Columbia once sold out every game in a winless season (1999).
On the other hand, there are schools where only winning is tolerated, or more importantly, watched.
Here's a rundown of the worst fair-weather, bandwagon fan groups in the wonderful world of college football.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, you couldn't throw a rock without hitting a Virginia fan, at least on the East Coast.
Times have changed, and Virginia has slid back towards the ACC cellar. Tiny Scott Stadium rarely gets full. When it does get a near-capacity crowd, most of the folks are usually gone by halftime.
What did you really expect from a crowd where the male students are expected to wear ties to games? At least the tailgate parties are decent.
The Scarlet Knights are the wild card in this group.
Prior to the Greg Schiano era, Rutgers had never tasted success. The only coverage they got was when Miami would visit New Jersey, in a different Big East Conference where Rutgers was the league whipping boy. Then ESPN would show all the empty seats.
Fast-forward a few years, and Rutgers suddenly has become a hot item in the shadow of New York.
Let's see what a fall from grace does to the program. Will the fans that have suddenly shown up stick around? Probably not...
8) Georgia Tech
One would expect quite a bit more from the fans of a program that can boast two national championships and once had John Heisman as a coach.
Georgia Tech also has quite a few distinguished graduates who make a lot of money. So why don't they travel to road games?
Bobby Dodd Stadium is an undersized joke, especially to be found in the metropolis of Atlanta. If anyone seemed to care, they could double the size of their venue.
Then again, nobody shows up to watch the Braves, Falcons, or Hawks either.
Unless you count minor league hockey, the Vols are the only show in town. Yet they have had trouble filling Neyland Stadium for the last couple of seasons.
Granted, it's the biggest stadium in the SEC, but Knoxville is also one of the biggest markets in the conference as well.
Rather than actually watching football, Tennessee fans seem to enjoy complaining about the coaching situation more.
You can't win the SEC every single year. Fans displaying their dissatisfaction about this fact by simply staying home hurt recruiting, which compounds the problem.
It's a vicious cycle in K-Town.
Tommy West said it best when the University of Memphis fired him.
If fans want success, they had better show up, rather than simply complain about the coach or the program.
What's odd is that the Tigers never really won prior to West. He elevated the program but then got axed as Memphis seemed to revert to their previous form.
Memphis can support the NBA with its population, and they can't be bothered to fill the Liberty Bowl five times a year? What gives?
5) North Carolina
Kenan Stadium isn't as bad as the Dean Smith Center for hosting a "wine and cheese crowd" during the season. It's actually far, far worse on grass for the Tar Heels than on the hardwood.
North Carolina simply isn't a football school. Yet when the Tar Heels pull one out, listen to them bray about it.
This season will be interesting, as the hoops team only went to the NIT, and Butch Davis has a stud defense slated for the fall.
Chances are you'll be hearing about how one of your friends has "always been a UNC football fan" this fall.
Even if you live in New Mexico.
If you're a Florida fan now, it's probably because you were a Miami Hurricanes fan in the 1980s. Or you could have supported the Florida State Seminoles in the 1990s.
There are a ton of Gators just because it's so easy to be one. With the program's recent history, you're not going to have many melancholy post-game gatherings if you "support" Florida.
If Urban Meyer does end up leaving or "retiring" within the next few years, what colors will Florida fans switch to then? There are a lot of options in the Sunshine State.
When Starter jackets were sold at Champs instead of Wal-Mart, quite a few of them had an Ibis on the back. Miami had an impressive following across the nation during the glory days of the "U."
Now the stadium is (at best) half full. It has nothing to do with the Orange Bowl being torn down. Miami had trouble filling that too.
In 2004, the 'Canes, ranked third, faced Louisville (also in the rankings) in a Thursday night tilt at the old stadium. There were gaping holes all over the seating bowl. What a letdown.
Oh how the mighty have fallen. But fear not. A season at the top and they'll all come right back.
2) Notre Dame
Supposedly Notre Dame has the biggest fanbase in the nation. When they're in contention, that is...
The luck of the Irish has been mighty thin lately, and everyone seems to have put their green and gold away. Maybe incoming coach Brian Kelly will be the salvation, but that remains to be seen.
There's an easy way to sniff out a bandwagon Domer. Just ask anyone who claims to be a fan to name the starting quarterback from the 1993 "Game of the Century" showdown with Florida State.
The average fair-weather fan will be sure it was Rick Mirer or Ron Powlus. A true fan will remember it was actually Kevin MacDougal.
1) Southern California
The USC Trojans have the dubious distinction of being the only college AND pro team in the nation, not to mention the greater Los Angeles area.
Not only do the players seem to make pretty decent salaries, they are also bigger celebrities than most of the Seattle Seahawks.
In return, the Trojans have a group of fans that are not unlike NFL supporters. When things are good, the Los Angeles Coliseum is full, including visits from Will Ferrell and Snoop Dogg. When things are tough (i.e. 8-4), most of the crowd has better things to do.
The "show up late and leave early" attitude of Southern California is on display in full force here. Ticket scalping in L.A. must have more swings than day trading.