A while ago Andrew asked whether the blog should officially become fans of Iowa State. So, let’s settle it. If you have to become a dedicated fan this fall for one team from each of the Big-12, ACC, or SEC who is it going to be and why?
Max Vrooman: In my mind there are a few obvious exclusions. I don’t want to be rooting for a team that has been the recent royalty of college football. We’re instantly eliminating Bama, Clemson, Georgia, and Oklahoma. I feel like LSU shouldn’t count despite winning the title last year just because their team had almost complete turnover. But realistically they go too.
You don’t want to be rooting for a team that’s almost certainly going to lose a lot. I’m eliminating any team that’s outside the top-50 of the SP+. That’s Kansas, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Arkansas, Duke, West Virginia, Boston College, NC State, Texas Tech, Kansas State, and Georgia Tech.
Next we eliminate teams I just don’t like. There’s no set criteria on this one. It could be because of rivalry with UW, their coach is annoying, they’ve had off the field issues, etc. Say goodbye to Florida State, Louisville, Notre Dame, Baylor, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M.
In the ACC we’re left with Miami, UNC, Pitt, UVA, and Va Tech. I’m not really feeling it for UNC or Virginia Tech. Virginia has the western connection with Bronco Mendenhall as head coach formerly of BYU. Pitt always causes chaos. But I think I’m too young to have ever truly hated Miami and D’Eriq King is a really fun player so I’m rocking with the Hurricanes. UW leads the all-time series so no need to feel insecure about this pick.
The Big-12 has Iowa State, Oklahoma State, TCU, and Texas. The pick is almost certainly Oklahoma State just because they have two of the best skill position players in the country in Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace. However, my mom’s family is from New Mexico and I grew up with Texas as my 2nd team so for me personally, it’s the Longhorns. Hook ‘em.
Finally in the SEC it’s between Florida, Auburn, Kentucky, and Missouri. If Lynn Bowden were still at Kentucky they’d be the runaway favorites but I’m still picking them here. They have the schedule from hell (games at Auburn, Florida, Bama, and Tennessee) but if you’re going to root for a relative underdog among all the national names then I don’t mind the Wildcats in football.
How about you?
Andrew Berg- Oh boy, this is an extremely fun topic. It reminds me of trying to pick a team in Dynasty Mode of EA NCAA Football when that was a thing.
Gabey Lucas- On one hand i love the fact that Iowa State has (had?) a dude with the last name Assalley. Hehehe. Ass. Alley. On the other hand, I kinda like West Virginia?
Max- I’m also generally a fan of West Virginia (once again, family connections there) but I made the quality of team decision before looking over the list and had been assuming they were expected to be better than they are. Won’t fault anyone for finding more opportunities to sing Take Me Home, Country Roads.
Gabey- In the SEC, on the other hand, I know you’re not supposed to go for teams that just won the national championship, but I do really love LSU. Otherwise I kinda have an affinity for Auburn since a guy I went to high school with went there and died of cancer a bit ago, not to get too dark or anything. Also after they’ve beat Oregon twice. And I don’t mind Florida cuz a friend of mine went there and is a big fan, but also am not sure how big of a fan of Dan Mullen I am off the field...
But LSU’s just got a fun vibe in a way that neither of those two give off.
As for the ACC... I really, really couldn’t give a shit about almost any of those teams. Truly. The only ones I feel any thoughts of any minuscule magnitude are FSU: Ew. Miami: Exists and used to be good but who cares? Clemson: A little bit irritating but less irritating than OSU, Bama, or the other contenders...I guess the only ones I could “root” for would be Virginia Tech...? Because their Enter Sandman tradition is cool? Alternatively UVA because it’s Tina Fey’s alma mater? So one of you guys has to tell me which Virginia school I’m rooting for in the ACC, because I frankly do not care.
Andrew- I’m going to agree with Gabey on LSU in the SEC, even though I hate the idea of being a frontrunner. If I’m going strictly on schools or fanbases I identify with, I will probably write off all or almost all of the SEC for what we’ll call sociopolitical reasons. You know, that whole quitting the country thing. Anyway. Orgeron is extremely fun and hilarious. Louisiana might have the best food of any state, which is a draw if I were to go see them play live. LSU has a top-5 uniform in the country. Their stadium is wonderful (though it remains to be seen how much of that will hold without the fans present). Year in and year out, they play such an aggressive, tough defense that is fun to watch. If the offense even gets to 80% of what they had with Burrow, they will remain super fun to watch. Even the frontrunner part isn’t quite so bad since they lost so much in the draft and nobody is picking them to win this year.
When I lived in DC, the closest P5 school was Maryland and I could take the subway to their stadium. I went to several games there. I would pick them as my ACC school if they were still in the ACC and it’s very dumb that they’re not.
When they’re good, Miami is fun because their crazy over-confidence is entertaining. When they’re not good, it makes them extra sad. Virginia Tech without Frank Beamer just isn’t the same. I read a really awful book about sexual assault on the UVA campus recently, so I don’t think I can embrace them right now.
Gabey- Ooh actually Maryland is a good call simply cuz they’re so ridiculous.
And you pretty much nailed why I’ll always kinda like LSU.
Andrew- Syracuse is fully the worst. Pitt, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and BC have melted into one pale gold blob in my mind in the last decade.
I grew up not liking UNC because I liked Coach K, but Julius Peppers made me kind of like their football team. The Mac Brown story is at least a good narrative. They have a crazy good freshman class. Also a good football uniform. They are probably my ACC choice by process of elimination.
I joked about becoming an Iowa State blog because they seem like a perfectly anonymous college football team. They’re never really that good or that bad. They don’t have any players who are that memorable (with all due respect to Seneca Wallace and Troy Davis). Nothing stands out about their stadium, uniform, logo, or history. They’re just kind of there. But I’m not picking them in the B12 because they have some of the most open in-person attendance rules despite Iowa having the worst COVID rates in the country. Negligently killing people makes me like them less.
A good friend is an OU grad and I like to try to support my friends’ teams. They’re not a personal favorite because Oklahoma just seems like a place I wouldn’t like, but I lightly root for them. There are things I like about West Virginia but they have one of the collectively dumbest fanbases I’ve seen. They travel really well for basketball and would come to DC to play Georgetown in the Big East every year when I was an undergrad there and they stood out as the most annoying, obnoxious fans every year.
I grew up in Fargo, ND, home of the 417 time FCS champion North Dakota State Bison. Their last two coaches are now at Wyoming and Kansas State. I like both of those teams a lot, plus K-State’s purple matches UW’s purple pretty well. K-State had a cool identity under Snyder as a counterpoint to the Mike Leach model of how to win at a smaller school- they were just more technically sound. They’re doing a lot of the same things now and the early returns under Chris Kleimann have been good.
So Kansas State, LSU, and UNC will be my top 3. And if the Big 10 plays, it’s easy to go with my (old) home town Gophers.
Gabey- I respect all those answers
Rob Foxcurran- Having lived in Minneapolis the last 2 1/2 years, I have a growing fondness for the Golden Gophers. I watched them (unfortunately) lose at home to Iowa 2 years ago, but I was also in-stadium for their huge win over Penn State last year which was thrilling to say the least. Plus, I really enjoying saying both “Go Gophs” and “Row the boat”. All that said, no Big 10, so no selection to be made here.
There are only two other active schools I can see myself caring about this season. First is one that has already been mentioned in LSU. It helps that I’ve been to Louisiana multiple times, but I was also born in France so I have that Franco-American connection that will forever leave a soft spot in my heart for the Cajuns and Louisiana in general. Along those lines, what’s not to love about Coach O? He’s impossible not to root for. Also, I have very fond memories of interacting with LSU fans when they played in Seattle in 2009. Final note here, the fact that they have (more or less) the same color scheme as us doesn’t hurt.
The other remaining school on my list is one I’ve never fully been able to get on board with... Notre Dame. Aside from the whole French thing referenced above, I’m also half Irish and come from a big Irish Catholic family... so an Irish Catholic school with a French name seems like an easy choice. But getting into less tenuous connections, my cousin also played for the Irish about a decade ago and my father-in-law is a proud and active alum. He even took our family out to South Bend a few years back to see a game which was a great trip.
But here’s the thing... I’ve always been a die hard Husky fan and I grew up in an extended family that worshiped Notre Dame BECAUSE they were the school that all good Irish Catholics rooted for. I’ve always resented to some degree this default fandom and because of that have always resented the Fighting Irish. It’s the same reason why, despite having a lot of family from/still in the Boston area, I’m not a Red Sox fan by default. I grew up in Seattle, so I root for Seattle teams.
However, two things in the past year have softened me to the idea of Notre Dame fandom. The first is that I FINALLY saw Rudy. Yes, I had never seen it until a year ago (it was kind of a dumb protest on my part). Second, I heard the story of Notre Dame vs. the Klan. If you’re not familiar, the long and short of it is that in 1924 Notre Dame students literally fought and kicked the KKK out of town when they tried to hold a rally in South Bend. The details of the story are pretty incredible, and it really supports the selection of the schools famous nickname. I think this might have to be the first season I go all-in on the Fighting Irish... And it doesn’t hurt that they won’t be playing Stanford or USC.
Andrew- Rob, those are fair arguments, but on the other hand, Notre Dame.
Rob- Fuck. That’s a bullet proof response.
Andrew- I definitely hate them more than any other team. They’re the only school I intrinsically dislike. I hate Oregon and Washington St as rivals, but the dislike wouldn’t be nearly as strong if I didn’t have anything to do with UW. Same with Syracuse vs. Georgetown. I hate Alabama and Ohio State for how far up their own asses they are about their success, but if either team went through a long-term downturn, I’d be mostly indifferent to them. I don’t think there’s anything that could change that would make me not hate Notre Dame.
If that’s not enough, they do a great job of picking coaches and players who entrench their image as egotistical pricks. Lou Holtz, Charlie Weiss, and Brian Kelly are JUST AWFUL. The Manti Teo’o thing was funny, but it certainly doesn’t make him look like a good person. Joe Theismann sucks. Jimmy Claussen sucks. Paul Hornung is the NFL’s Pete Rose and sucks. Tom Zbikowski is maybe the single most annoying college football player of my adult life.
Gabey- Yeah sorry Rob, I’m fully on #TeamAndrew here.
Andrew- Oh, and when Notre Dame were in their heyday in the 40s, who were they beating for titles? Army and Navy. Do you hate the Troops, Rob?
Rob- Honestly, I get. All that hand wringing on my part is in there for a reason. But when it comes down to it, the school’s story connects with me, plus everything else I touched on. I wouldn’t expect the average college football fan to feel anything less than hatred towards Notre Dame.
Gabey- ROB HATES THE TROOPS PASS IT ON.
Andrew- Oh, so now we’re just average fans. I see you up there on Mount Pious with the rest of your Notre Dame brethren.
Rob- Here’s what finally won me over:
(Background, Notre Dame students chased a group of Klansmen to their headquarters in downtown South Bend)“A “fiery cross” made from red light bulbs shined in the office’s third-floor window. By a stroke of luck, a store selling groceries on the ground floor had barrels of potatoes outside. The students began launching the potatoes, breaking the window and then all of the lights but the top one. Their arms ragged, no one seemed to be able to reach the last taunting bulb. The crowd called forth Harry Stuhldreher, the football team quarterback who would be immortalized five months later as one of the Four Horsemen. He reared back and let loose a potato from his cannon of an arm. The crowd leaned in as it traced a perfect arc … and went wild when the light bulb exploded in a shower of sparks. Just kids having a rip-roaring time.”
Gabey- I have to admit that, obviously, that is awesome.
Kirk DeGrasse- This is a fun thought exercise. Thinking of the Big-12, if we’re ruling out schools that don’t really have much of a chance, that leaves options that I’m not that happy with. I can’t go with Oklahoma State for multiple reasons: T. Boone Pickens is basically another version of Phil Knight, and I just can’t laugh at Mike Gundy any more. For a variety of personal reasons I’m ruling out any non-secular schools, so TCU is out (unfortunately, I like their mascot and really respect what Gary Patterson has done there). Texas is a school I really want to like: terrific school, great location, great stadium. But they just feel like the rich kid that skated by in life and has mostly wasted the advantages they have over everyone else. So I suppose it comes down to Texas Tech vs. WVU. I’d lean towards Texas Tech mostly because of the history of fun offenses, plus it’s been long enough since Mike Leach was there that his stench has mostly worn off.
The ACC is tough too. I always liked Dean Smith growing up so I have a bit of a soft-spot for UNC, and Mack Brown seems like a good guy. The academic scandals there are unpleasant though. Virginia has a lot going for it as a school in theory, but it’s hard for me to fully separate the real world and real world politics from all of this, and (fair or not) that probably drops them down. I really respect what Frank Beamer did at Virginia Tech, and he and Bud Foster were spiritual descendants of Jim Lambright and his attacking defense from 1989 onward, but for whatever reason the Hokies just don’t do much for me. I like Pitt a lot as a school, and since my in-laws are Penn State fanatics, rooting for the Panthers would provide a lot of fun back and forth, so Pitt it is.
In the SEC I think I’ll have to go with Mizzou. I became a bit of a fan of theirs with the long run Gary Pinkel had there, so there’s some bonds already. I wouldn’t be completely opposed to Kentucky or Florida either, but other than wanting to stick it to Alabama I don’t have much interest in supporting Auburn.
Andrew- Mizzou is very legit. Probably the least SEC SEC team, the Pinkel thing is cool. They even have some fun players in the fairly recent past, like Brad Smith and Chase Daniel.
Max- Considering they’re one of the most recent additions to the conference, that checks out.
Gabey- Plus they have Hamdan on staff, and Drew Lock’s hair was legendary. Although i totally forgot that Mizzou exists. Ha. Ha. Ha.
Andrew- So who is right?
Max- Did Rob have a Big-12 pick? Otherwise, we all picked different teams for the Big 12 and the ACC. Which somehow feels right. LSU for the SEC is the only repeat pick.
Rob- Big 12? Go Bears.
At one point in high school totally out of the blue one of my friends decided it would be hilarious if they just started calling me a huge Baylor Bears fan. There was no context for it. It just started happening. Ever since then I’ve fake repped Baylor pretty hard .
But truth be told, I don’t actually care about Baylor at all and can’t think of a less appropriate culture fit for me. That said, go Bears!
I almost went with Texas because Hank Hill. No further justification needed.
Gabey- Honestly I love both of those. I kinda have a soft spot for Texas too even though they’re such a huge brand and program.
Andrew- I try not to cheer for Texas because of my friend who went to OU. I have another friend who doesn’t live around here and roots for Oregon for no reason and it feels like a personal attack. I try not to do that to other friends.
Gabey- U r such a good dude
Andrew- I just found out Iowa State isn’t having fans at their game after all. I think we have to start over.
Who had the best set of teams?
This poll is closed
Max- Kentucky, Miami FL, and Texas
Gabey- LSU, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia
Andrew- Kansas State, LSU, and UNC
Rob- Baylor, LSU, and Notre Dame
Kirk- Missouri, Pittsburgh, and Texas Tech