Every year, someone asks the question, "What team do you root for in college football?"
I usually will look around to make sure there aren't snipers in the trees or a crazy gleam in the questioner's eye before I answer, "I dunno. I like almost all of them, I guess." This seems to be the smartest response to a question that is obviously some type of setup.
If I were to ever answer the question with (insert team name here), most of the time I would get a glare. Then be called crazy. Then that person with whom I was having the conversation would immediately begin to let me know why my opinion was wrong.
Then again, I do live in the South. People here live and breathe their college football and will do anything (including felonious acts) to prove their allegiance to their teams.
The following are the top 10 college football teams that seem to produce this type of fan.
*NOTE: This is NOT a reflection of your favorite team. Please don't hurt me, people.
Any fanbase whose mascot is a possibly drunken Irish leprechaun with his fist balled up ready for a throwdown probably has issues. We won't even begin to talk about "Touchdown Jesus."
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish come in at No. 10. With an extremely "high-spirited" fanbase, this is the only university on this countdown that is a private college. A religious college at that!
If you ever go to a Notre Dame football game, you will see just how nutty things can get. This is a crowd that lives and dies with every play—and every season.
Which is why Notre Dame fans have been a little grumpy as of late. They are used to having national championship aspirations year in and year out.
If they weren't so God-fearing in South Bend, Charlie Weis might not have escaped with his life.
I have lived in Texas. It was a lovely state with wonderful people...
Except on game day. Then you don't mess with Texas. Or Bevo. Or the cooler.
On Saturdays in Austin, the Longhorn spirit takes over like it's starring in the next Exorcist. Lovely people with whom you can have civilized conversations on a daily basis turn into snarling beasts. Their hands form this strange gesture that looks like a cow's head. And the beer just disappears.
If the Longhorns win, the fans are going to party all night! If they lose, the fans are going to console each other all night. Either way, if you're an Oklahoma fan, a Nebraska fan or a Natural Light, you will probably disappear before the night is over.
At least in my experience.
If a picture can say a thousand words, then I cannot do this team or its fanbase justice by commenting further on what may be one of the most disturbing images I have ever seen.
Suffice it to say: Nebraska's fans deserve to be on this list. Maybe higher than where they are currently.
The University of Michigan has the largest living alumni base of any American university with over 425,000 alumni. That's a whole lot of graduates.
Many of whom may or may not be crazy.
I don't mean to say that every one of the Michigan fans is a nut. They aren't. This is actually one of the classiest fanbases in the nation. But there are a lot of them. A whole lot.
Given those numbers, I believe it would be safe to say that if they have the most graduates and alumni, they also have the most certifiably insane graduates and alumni.
"What in the world are they burning?!" you may ask.
Their furniture would be the answer. Their couches would be a more specific answer.
They won a football game.
"What?! That's crazy!"
The first of several SEC teams on the countdown is Tennessee. If you have never seen a game in Knoxville, you have to go. It's like experiencing an insane asylum. These fans are relentless—and fun, believe it or not.
Tennessee fans have calmed down over the past few decades, but I still remember when they would hurl oranges (and bricks, occasionally) at opposing teams' buses as they would leave town. Police presence was a must at all times.
You were allowed to come to Knoxville. You just weren't allowed to win in Knoxville—and the fans let you know it. They still do, just not as heatedly as they did in times past.
If you have never had the pleasure of hearing a full marching band play "Rocky Top" 150 times in a three-hour period, you can't begin to understand why the fanbase may be a little, uh, on edge.
This one you have to see to believe.
Do not, I repeat, Do NOT tell an LSU fan he smells like a corn dog. I did this on a bet a few years ago. I didn't even know what it meant. I've never been beat up so badly, so quickly in all my life.
He didn't really smell like a corn dog. Neither did the three other guys who got so offended. They kind of smelled like Jim Beam and an old person's feet. But I got whipped all the same.
The story goes like this: A few years ago an Auburn fan (we will talk about you guys later) posted something on a blog that said LSU fans smelled like corn dogs. Apparently, this was a bad idea, because the entire LSU nation became very sensitive to this theory. Very sensitive. I don't know why and don't think anyone else does either. It just kind of happened.
That's just a "for instance" story for you. LSU madness goes much deeper. Go see for yourself, but leave the corn dogs and comments about such at home.
Even the mascot is a nut.
Ohio State has, quite possibly, one of the scariest fanbases outside of the SEC. These fans bleed scarlet and gray—and paint it on their entire bodies. Often.
Ask Kirk Herbstreit, who was driven from his Columbus, Ohio home by rabid OSU fans and forced to move to Nashville. Herbstreit is from Columbus. He is an Ohio State alumnus.
Herbstreit's biggest problem is that he talked objectively about OSU on his broadcasts. He did not treat his alma mater with the "respect" some OSU fans thought it deserved—and was at that point labeled a traitor to the Buckeye nation.
Said Herbstreit, "Eighty to ninety percent of the Ohio State fans are great. It's the vocal minority that make it rough. They probably represent only five to 10 percent of the fanbase, but they are relentless."
In the South, we have a strange tradition. When we get mad at a neighbor or decide to play a prank on someone, we will go to the store, buy a whole shopping cart full of toilet paper and systematically throw it in the trees of our victim. It leaves a colossal mess and is extremely hard to clean up, resulting in wet toilet paper all over the victim's lawn, usually.
What does Auburn do? They roll their own yard when they win games! Legendary Toomer's Corner in Auburn has been around since 1896 but has been getting vandalized by the students and fans of Auburn since either 1962 or 1963 (no one can agree on the exact date).
Being the second football team in the state of Alabama has led to Auburn being called the University of Alabama's little sister, the University of Alabama in Opelika and Aubarn (it really is in the middle of nowhere). This has led to a complete and total Napoleon syndrome among its fans, who will support this team no matter how many sanctions are imposed by the NCAA, no matter how badly they get beaten and no matter what anyone else says.
The recent national championship made this even worse.
When you live in Alabama, you have to make a choice at birth, because you will hear the same question at least 500 times in your first 30 years of life.
"Are you Auburn or Alabama?"
What's crazier? Rolling your own yard or poisoning the T.P. trees of your arch rival?
Alabama wins this contest, hands down.
The fever pitch of college football that normal people love around August goes on year-round in Alabama. Fans of Alabama have been known to shout, "Roll Tide!!" at any given time. From funerals to bar brawls, this is a phrase you will hear every day, more than once a day, in the great state of Alabama. I know children who have been named "Bear" and "Crimson." It happens every day.
Brothers have fought brothers, parents have disowned children, best friendships have been broken up—all because of the Alabama state hobby of fighting and arguing over who is the best team in the state.
This, at least according to everyone who is not an Alabama fan, was Auburn in 2010. This went over with Alabama fans like a pregnant pole vaulter. Fans became so enraged over the audacity of their in-state rival to win a national championship that a minor prank war broke out—and got a little too serious.
In response to Auburn's growing the score of the Iron Bowl in rye grass outside Bryant-Denny Stadium and allegedly putting a Cam Newton jersey on a statue of Bear Bryant (BLASPHEMY!!!), an Alabama fan poisoned the trees that Auburn had been rolling for three generations with the herbicide Spike 80DF.
I promise you that before next season, somebody will be rich from selling Alabama jerseys with the name Spike at the top and the number 80.
That's just the way things are in Alabama. If you don't like it, don't come visit. They don't care.