Ranking the most ‘volatile’ fan bases in the SEC

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A study conducted by Emory Sports Marketing set out to decide which team in the SEC has the most volatile fans, meaning which fan bases ‘live & die’ by their team’s performance on the field.

Related: Ranking the best SEC fan bases in 2013

Emory studied the entire 2012 season and the first five weeks of the 2013 season, and after each game, reactions were collected via tweets from every SEC town for one, two or three days after the game. They measured volatility by analyzing the difference of a fan base’s ‘high’ after a win and a ‘low’ after a loss.

Related: Best SEC cities for sports fans

You can read all the details of the entire study here.

Here’s a snippet:

Thus after each game, we were able to calculate the sentiment of the fan base. We determined on average how positive a fan base was after a win, and how negative they were after a loss. To understand the “volatility” of a fan base, we looked at the delta between the average sentiment after a win and the average sentiment after a loss. In other words, how big is the difference in a fan base’s “high” after a win and “low” after a loss. We believe that this metric best captures “living & dying” by the performance of your team. After computing this metric for each fan base, we determined that LSU has the most “volatile” fans in the SEC.

As stated, it was determined that LSU has the most volatile fan base with a score of 30.8, followed by Ole Miss and Georgia.

Here are the results:


The study drew some interesting conclusions:

  • We believe that volatility is in part driven by 1) the expectations of the fan base and 2) the expressiveness of the fan base. The top three schools in our rankings seem to get to the top for different reasons. The volatility of LSU & UGA fans is driven more by extreme negativity after losses, whereas the volatility of Ole Miss fans is a function of high levels of happiness after wins.

  • LSU fans had an extremely negative reaction to the Alabama loss last year and the Georgia loss this year. These fans even had an overall negative reaction to a close WIN over Auburn last year!

  • UGA fans spewed a lot of vitriol on Twitter after the loss to Clemson this year.

  • Ole Miss fans, on the other hand, did not have overly negative reactions to losses, and were very positive after wins.

  • It is interesting to note that the Alabama fan base is at the bottom of the volatility list. Alabama only lost one game during the period of this study (a good reason for publishing this list again next year when we have more data). But, even after wins, the Alabama fan base is not very positive on Twitter. There are several tweets that are critical about the margin of victory. If Alabama does ever go on some type of losing streak in the future (as unlikely as that seems), it will be fascinating to observe the reaction on Twitter.

Related: Top SEC Party Schools

Photo Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-US PRESSWIRE



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  • When Bama loses, their fans poison trees… When everyone else loses, they get drunk and tweet.

    I don’t need a collection of tweets to tell you that bammers vicariously live through the lives of 18-22 year old kids. If this study was done in a year when bama didn’t win the National Championship, they’d win in an overwhelming margin and it’s not close.

    • ^^^ Exactly Kenton. It’s easy to spot Alabama as not volatile while Saban has been there, but I have seen many Alabama fans when they are winning, they are sore winners, and while they are losing they are even worse sore losers. During work, I have seen many Alabama fans punching walls, and cussing out every person on Alabama’s team if they dare fall behind to another team (part of the LSU game last year, the entire Texas A&M game, South Carolina and Auburn in 2010, any time they play LSU, and practically any time between 2000-2007). During my time growing up in Alabama, the Franchione/Dubose years were an all-time low for Alabama fans, and for the longest time, I was under the impression that there really weren’t that many Alabama fans in the state. But since 2008, it’s been an overwhelming majority with plenty of bandwagon fans to accompany the life-long fans. I would love to see the list year for year.

      • What a load of crap. Not many Alabama fans from Alabama? Are you serious? Listen Barner, I have been an Alabama fan my whole life, it’s great if they win and I hate it when they lose, but they are my team. Are you really saying Alabama’s fan base is made up of bandwagon fans? You are truly blind, dude.

        • He’s not saying that all of Alabama’s fanbase is bandwagoners. Every team has their true fans, such as yourself. But I live in bama too and since Saban took over, the fan base has grown a good bit. Which is natural. It’s like that everywhere. How many people even knew Miami had a basketball team before Lebron got there? Now everywhere you look there are Heat fans. It’s just the way it works.

        • Certainly not blind, and thanks for the backup Wes. When I mean not that many, I mean it seemed like Auburn and Alabama were on a similar level on number of fans, and the Alabama fans were pretty quiet in between the national championships of ’92 and ’09.

        • That’s funny!! My 9 year old granddaughter asked me a few weeks ago, “Nana, when did Auburn start making flags for their cars!!” LOL!! (As in….she hadn’t seen them the year before!!)

      • Barners stereotyping Bama fans is a laughable concept. The logic behind the claim is that someone watching a football game on Saturdays pulling for 2 different teams in the same state has ingrained different morals and values into people. I live in central AL and I see the same low life trailer trash while at work come in with AU apparel from head to toe. Before opening their mouths its pretty east to spot the lack of an IQ. These people are born and raised together. They go to schools together, worship at the same churches together. THESE PEOPLE ARE LITERALLY THE SAME. Only difference is a team in wihch to pull for on Saturdays. So while you jackass AU fans attempt to look as if youre on a pedestal let me stop you right there. I sure hate to be the one to break it to you Barners but preference in collegiate sports team plays no part in shaping humans. Even if it did the schools are less than 150 miles apart. Its mind blowing that a Barn fan attempts to shame the people from the same state, situations, living conditions, incomes, classes, and intellectual understandings they are from themselves. Instead of trying to label an entire fanbase by a few idiots stop and think, especially if your fanbase has the SAME type of idiots you are criticizing.
        And please Tennessee fans just enjoy the poll above. You can actually take pride in beating UofA in something.

        • Lets all take a step back no need in throwing a hissy fit over who has more bandwagon fans. I for one came out of the womb wearing a hounds tooth diaper and have supported my tide thru the Dubose, Coach Fran and Shula days none of which was our brightest times. All schools have those certain fans that have a closet full of hats and wears whichever hat supports the winning team so what to each their own. I honestly think that even if Bama was loosing we would still have a pretty tame fan base I’ve seen it before sure we have some that are extreme as does everyone but after the A&M game last year I was overwhelmingly surprised at the way we congratulated the Aggie fans I saw much more of that than I did cussing and calling them out. As far as Bama fans living thru 18-22 year old boys I think it is more living thru coach Saban not accepting poor performance and coaching his team on the correct way to play the game. Well there is a lot that we can learn and implement into our everyday lives from people like him if you give it 110% and follow the process’s set in place good things will happen.

        • He wasn’t using one person to label a fan base. If you ask any SEC fan who has the most arrogant fans, you will get a resounding Alabama, maybe an LSU or two. I remember a time not too long ago when Bama was checked off as a win before the season even started, but now that they have backed their way into a few natty’s the Bama fans think they are untouchable.
          I understand having pride in your team and always wanting to be the best, but I can’t read an AU forum without some Bama fan saying “LOLZ BARNERS HAHA YOU’RE SO BAD, BAMA’S THE BEST EVER!” It is a really sad thing. If you think I’m lying just look at all the Bama fans comments below. A real rude crowd.

        • Hey did you like the 2013 Auburn vs Alabama game 😝

      • Do you guys come up with talking points for the year and disseminate them among your cultish little fan base? This “Bama has bandwagon fans” is a flag you guys are flying particularly high these days. I get that you need to maintain the image of “AU is a family and that’s why we’re so darn special” mantra… makes you guys feel better…. but I wonder, how do you justify JH stadium emptying out when Texas A&M went up 42-7 at halftime last year? Note the image: http://bit.ly/1cinuVP
        What happened to “family”, “never to yield”, “all in”, and all that? Was their a petting zoo outside the stadium that night? Anyway… carry on about Alabama and the bandwagon fan-base

      • wareagle91, please spare us the rhetoric. Last year you couldn’t spot an auburn fan form their cars. No flags, decals etc. Now since they’ve won a few games, the aubies have come out of the woodwork. When auburn reaches the status of Bama, come talk to me.

        • Yeah, I was there at the Texas A&M game. It wasn’t pretty. I was a fan during Tuberville’s stagnant era, and I was there before and after the 2010 national championship when many said it wasn’t possible for us to win games without Cam Netwon. It just makes it all the sweeter with the Iron Bowl coming up. All teams have their good and bad eras, and you feel good when see lots of people willing to stick out with their teams, and feel sucker punched whenever you see bandwagoners on your side or the other side.

        • Hey nice 104 yard field goal miss touchdown lol

      • wareagle91; You are kidding aren’t you? As in every state there are bandwagon jumpers. Half the state of Alabama are jumpers, 1/4 are Bama fans, 1/4 are burner fans. When Burn started winning in the 90’s lots of fence straddlers jumped to auburn. Then when they losing, which is the usual path they jumped back to Bama. There is nothing unusual about that. As hard as you may think it is believable the same thing happens in Florida, Georgia and many other states.

    • LSU fans are definitely the most volatile – but if you know how to handle them – they are a fun bunch

    • When UT does anything, their fans chug boxed wine into their fannies.

      See how that stereotyping thing works?

    • Please don’t get drunk every time you lose Vollie. Alcohol poisoning is very serious. Get help before it’s too late, buddy.

    • kentontudor, typical vol fan. One fan did something wrong and you indict an entire fan base. I’ve spent many a Saturday at a TN game and the vol fans are no better or worse than other schools.

    • Spoken like a true loser just like their team, Judging by your title it would suggest you also ” vicariously live through the lives of 18-22 year old kids”. That is unless you are a UT PLAYER!!! I hate to burst your wittle bubble but every person who follows SPORTS is “vicariously live through the lives of 18-22 year old kids”, How do you see yourself as a sportsfan? Maybe as a GOD? What a dumb post by a du mb human!!!!!

    • Don’t you remember all those Bammer-bots all over the message boards calling for Nick Saban’s head after the LSU loss in 2011??

    • No, that is not what Alabama fans do when they lose. That is what one crazy guy, who yes was an Alabama fan, did. I don’t think it’s fair to sum up Alabama fans like that. There were a lot of bama fans that were embarrassed that someone would do that and that actually tried to help with the tree after that happened…maybe you should read this article: http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/story/14723707/rivals-auburn-alabama-united-in-disgust-of-tree-poisoning
      It even mentions Tennessee as an example, in saying that all teams have a few fans that are just plain out crazy.

      • It may not be fair, but Alabama fans will be summed up like that as long as t-shirts with Updyke’s face on them exist, as well as signs saying “Tree’s Died.” No one will take moar Bama fana serious when they call Updyke an outlier. Actions speak far louder than words. I’m fully grateful to what the university and top class Bama fans did in response, but as long as the general Bama fan continues to act in the manner they do about that situation, the fan base will always be summed up as so. The 15% cared and were embarrassed, but the 85% make a mockery of it. It’s unfortunate really. You, like many other Bama fans I personally know, are getting dragged down with the rest.

  • I dunno. Florida fans are pretty volatile right now. Depending on how this weekend goes, it could mildly volatile or wildly volatile.

  • Every team in the country has some of THOSE fans. In the early ’90s, a Crimson Tide fan in Montgomery, shot and killed a Tigers fan because Bama lost the Iron bowl. Updyke poisons the oaks at Toomer’s corner because, he claims, an Auburn fan hung a Cam Newton jersey of Bear’s statue. Auburn fans rocked the bus carrying the Bama players to Jordan-Hare stadium. I personally feel that Auburn should rank lower than 8th, but I do agree with LSU at #1.

  • Good thing study was done before last Saturday for Mizzou.

  • Surprised to see Tennessee in the middle. Our fan base is never happy.

  • Settle down guys. You’re losing sight of the fact that this entire study is moronic and deeply flawed. Using Twitter as your data mine doesn’t prove anything. Aside from celebrities, athletes, promoters, business owners, PR reps, etc. (i.e. – people who have a need to quickly disseminate information and people that have a fan base) you’re average Twitter user is a narcissist with too much free time and an overinflated opinion of himself. They’re only tweeting because they want to hear themselves talk, therefore most of what they say is meaningless.

  • Problably worth noting that this article’s comments consist almost entirely of non-Bama fans writing about how Bama fans should have been rated as more volitile. Interestingly though not only is Bama the least volitile, but at a score of 2.3 they appear to be less than half as volitile as the next most volitle team. Among these teams and among these fans, only Alabama is sure following a loss that the sun will still shine tomorrow. A loss in Athens or Oxford always brings others in its wake. That’s part of what it means to be a team like Georgia or Ole Miss. Moreover, Alabama fans are so certain of the quality of our team that when we do lose (for instance vs. A&M 2012), we actually appreciate not only the effort the Tide put forth, but the truly heroic work of the other team. We also realize we had out chances and the ball just did not bounce our way. Alabama fans come out of losses respecting their oponents, not hating them. See Alabama’s LB coach Lance Thompson’s comments about being a “Manziel Groupie” earlier this week. I think the feeling is really uniform throughout the Tide nation, and not just for Manziel, but for other players, too, where deserved. When Alabama fans get upset is when we don’t perform well against a team we should have had little trouble with and where one or more units simply does not look good (i.e. the offensive line vs. Virginia Tech). We’re also able to draw distinctions between games like Western Kentucky 2012 (when Willie Taggert was the coach) where our line gave up a bunch of sacks against a blitz onslaught on virtually every down vs. games like Virginia Tech where our linemen and backs just did not work well together to block. Were we upset with Cristobol & Co? Yeah, but we were not volitile. Saban has his progam under control.

  • Let us know what you think…

    • I’ll tell you what I think. The article is made up. Could have used a dart board and gotten the same results as Twitter. Probably did use a dart board while on twitter.

  • State fans are so shocked after a win we can show no emotions for 4 days.

  • Not gonna lie I agree with Kentontudor above me.
    As an Alabama student, I’ll never forget how much campus changed after a few key games last year.
    After the LSU game, everyone lost it. You couldn’t sleep til 3 if you wanted to cuz of all the car horns and screaming. Pretty sure the man on the moon could hear a chorus of Roll Tide’s coming from Tuscaloosa.
    But we got a complete reversal of that the next weekend, after we lost to Texas A&M. I know I refused to go out. The only thing that drowned out the crickets were the tears. Everyone kept saying, “There’s more to life than football, football isn’t everything… but Alabama football IS everything.”
    The week after that, after KSU, then Oregon lost, it was the same story as the week of LSU. We woke up the man on the moon again. The first thing I saw after I ran out of the building where I was watching the game was a bunch of kids screaming, stripping, and jumping into a nasty pool.
    If anything like last year happens this year again, expect Bama to jump to the top of this list very quickly.

    • I agree. Alabama football is everything. I feel physically ill when we lose.I just turned 65 and you would think I would not feel this way. During a game I scream and shout and jump up and down like one of you in front of the television. My daddy would pace the floor when I was growing up listening to them on the radio. College football is the best no matter what team you love. SEC is the best by far.

  • The study admits that “We believe that volatility is in part driven by 1) the expectations of the fan base and 2) the expressiveness of the fan base,” but does nothing to control for those factors. This essentially means that instead of measuring “volatility” it is actually measuring (among enough other unaccounted for factors to totally muddy the waters) “1) the expectations of the fan base and 2) the expressiveness of the fan base.” And the sample size, in terms of how many games and seasons the behavior is being observed, is inadequately small. I wonder who funded this “study” and what they were fishing for, because they are clearly not interested in gaining a clear picture of things.

  • All of these variables boiled down into a single number seems misleading. I imagine the data is being skewed somehow. At the very least, I’d like to see highs vs. lows for each team. And as you pointed out, the results are when the number of loses (Bama) or wins (MSU/ Ark) is significantly low.

  • It’s to bad twitter wasn’t around during the Mike Shula years……

  • LSU has negative reactions to loss?! Last time I checked… Alabama t-bags people whenever they win.. and an Auburn fan hijacked a student’s car, with her in it, after the game this year and wrecked into 6 other cars claiming “I wanted to know what it was like to be in GTA 5.”

  • Interesting approach, I don’t think it accurately reflects how many Mizzou fans Hung themseleves last week

  • That was ONE person that killed those trees and that act was absolutely horrible. You can not blame every fan by one person’s criminal behavior. From what I have read over the past two years as comments on here the most volatile came from LSU and Arkansas fans. So many of these were written by women too. We all have our teams good years or bad and I say live and let live. Be proud of you team no matter what and do not tell someone else their team SUCKS just because you can. Does this really make you feel good. A life time Alabama fan through thick and thin. Auburn fans I am so glad you are having happy year.

    • Fan base as a whole, Bama fans are easily top 3 in SEC for volatile. It’s usually the top 3 teams at a given time that are the most volatile because A. Their games mean more, wins mean more, losses mean more and B. Bandwagoners are the worst of the worst at being volatile. Guess what Bama is on top and has those, so thanks to them, your fan base is considered the worst. Don’t worry, if Auburn beats you then 60% of the Bama fan base will be in orange and blue by the next week because that’s how the Southern part of the state and Mississippi work (I’ve lived there for 18 years, I know. Don’t argue with me.)

  • I don’t agree with these results at all.
    Vandy fans more volatile than over half the conference? Balderdash!

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