Your 2020 Tortured College Football Fanbase Rankings

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For the past six seasons, after the college football season ended, I did a ranking of the 25 Most Tortured College Football Fanbase rankings for Sports On Earth. (Here’s 2018’s.) Obviously there is no Sports On Earth anymore, but I liked doing them, and I feel like there’s some historical continuity to hang onto here, so here this is year’s.

(Though we’re just doing a list here, like last year. If you want the usual 2,000-word piece full of the typically illuminating commentary, I insist on a modest pittance.)
(Or, knowing me, you’ll just have to ask.)

As mentioned in last year’s, a few things to keep in mind:

  • Historical droughts matter. You’ll never be truly satisfied. But there’s no question that a fan base that has had to wait 30 years is going to be hungrier than one that has had to wait five.
  • Current quality is key. Nebraska fans surely believe they should be №1 on this list, and if it were just about passion, they might be. But Nebraska is very, very far from a national championship, and has been for quite some time. So the Cornhuskers can’t rate at the top of this list, considering, at this point, simply winning their side of the Big Ten would feel like a major step forward.
  • You gotta get real. Trust me, this Illini alum thinks the school of Red Grange and Dick Butkus should be a football powerhouse. But, uh, it’s not. You should probably make a bowl game or two before you receive consideration here. (This is why Kansas, the worst power conference program in the sport by a large margin, isn’t on the list either.)

25. West Virginia
24. Auburn
23. Mississippi
22. Virginia Tech
21. Michigan State
20. Clemson
19. Alabama
18. Ohio State
17. Florida State
16. Florida
15. Texas
14. Penn State
13. Oklahoma State
12. UCLA
11. Tennessee
10. Wisconsin
9. USC
8. Texas A&M
7. Miami
6. Nebraska
5. Oklahoma
4. Notre Dame
3. Oregon
2. Michigan
1. Georgia

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Writer, New York, NYT, MLB, WaPo, others. Founder, Deadspin. Author of four books, with fifth, “How Lucky,” coming May 2021. https://williamfleitch.substack.com

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