This is Free Form Friday, the virtual kiddie pool around which we lounge while waiting for the blessed return of college football. I throw out a topic about which you’re free to give your opinion, or to ignore in favor of other more interesting topics. Maestro, the music:
One topic of off-season conversation that never grows old is which college football teams have the worst fans. We’ve covered the topic in relation to the SEC on this site more than once and, while the answer is probably “depends on whether Auburn or Tennessee is further out over its skis this season”, the question never fails to draw strong opinions.
But today I come to the floor with a question that we should probably ask ourselves more frequently: Georgia aside, which SEC school has the best fans?
Your personal criteria for this can certainly vary. For me it’s a combination of devotion, perspective, and general entertainment value. For example I’ve always found Ole Miss fans an agreeable lot. They’re sort of like Georgia fans who couldn’t get into Georgia, but we’re too proud to settle for Auburn. I can respect that level of determination. A brief fever in the Hugh Freeze era aside, Ole Miss fans generally just want to beat Mississippi State and be entertained. This is why Lane Kiffin is the ideal Ole Miss coach. They’re used to being entertained by a guy in boat shoes who got to where he is based on his Dad’s connections on Monday through Friday. Saturday shouldn’t be any different.
Plus Ole Miss fans hate most of the same teams we do (Alabama, Auburn) and while they might get mouthy they’re unlikely to actually burn down anything of consequence (looking at you, LSU partisans).
Speaking of which, LSU fans are another group I like. The next LSU tailgate I don’t have fun at will be the first. They’re overly serious about their team and state in the same way we Bulldog fans can be, only with occasional outbursts of French. That being said, I have a fear that the Brian Kelly era is going to strain my affection for this crew.
Missouri fans are generally realistic, polite, and passionate without obsessed. Weirdos.
Kentucky fans would likely be in the running for my favorite SEC fans if I only had to interact with them from April 15th to October 15th. Outside that window they’re Alabama fans who talk like they’re from Cincinnati.
Vanderbilt fans are great. I’ve talked to all thirty of them and have no complaints.
South Carolina fans are fun in their own way, and many of them have survived for years in Columbia, which could come in handy if society ever well and truly unravels. Plus they freaking hate Clemson in a way that I find equally admirable and unsettling. Shane Beamer is a Ted Lasso-Lite motivator who seems genuinely nice and strategically savvy. Honestly I want them in the SEC, I just don’t want to ever have to listen to them crow (literally) about the Holtz/Spurrier era of near relevance.
Alabama fans come at the world from a position of perceived superiority that can be annoying. But now that they’re starting to look a little more mortal I think they’re a dark horse for future editions of this column. If all the Bama bros who’ve sworn that “Once Saban leaves I’ll just be grateful for the titles we won” actually keep that promise and regrow their vestigial humility they’re gonna be pretty fun. Again, they hate Auburn, and that’s a good base line character trait around which to build.
But enough of my hackneyed observations. What are your favorite SEC fanbases and why? Have a great weekend and…