How do you judge football passion?
Is it commitment to excellence? The state of Alabama has four of the last six championships.
Is it the amount of dedicated fans you can pack into one stadium each Saturday? Michigan’s ‘Big House’ still reigns supreme at 107,601.
Or how about the tailgating experience? LSU won the hearts of the
Daily Meal as the most elaborate.
What’s considered the best college football culture in the country can be entirely subjective. But the list boils down to places where football means everything; a sport that doesn’t take a back seat to family or religion.
If you want to visit a school where points on the scoreboard correlate with basic morale, here’s where you need to go.
Boise State, Texas, Oregon, Ole Miss, Penn State, Clemson, Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma.
How’d we do?
Send your complaints, objections, beef and gripe to
Josh Helmuth @Jhelmuth, the editor of CraveOnline Sports.
Photo Credit: Getty
top 10 college football towns
10 Notre Dame
Everyone has seen Rudy. Everyone knows they have their own TV contract with NBC. For goodness sake (wow, that sounds like my mom), this is a team all catholics cheer for.
The Fighting Irish might have the most diverse and extensive fan base in the country. They are steeped in tradition, have gorgeous unis, and most importantly, a touchdown Jesus.
Ruuuudy! Ruuduuy! Ruuuudyy!
Consistently rated the best college town in the country by several publications such as Sports Illustrated and USA TODAY, Madison might hold the most underrated football team in the U.S.
The Badgers have 98 wins over the last 10 years, which is second in the Big 10 behind Ohio State (110) and 9th most overall (out of 128). They've also won 3 Big Ten championships and 4 bowl games in that time span.
Camp Randall Stadium isn't just a college football palace, but the campus is located on an isthmus as gorgeous as anything in the country.
Plus, who doesn't love a
Badger? Especially at a party school!
"Rocky Top" is one of the most recognizable fight songs in the country for a reason. UT, you know, the place where Peyton Manning won a championship, is football obsessed.
Not only is the tailgating some of the best in the country, but hundreds of boats raft the Tennessee River on game days. If you're lucky enough to get a seat in the 102,455 max capacity Neyland Stadium, wear
this kind of caution-orange and some ear plugs. It's loud.
07 Texas A&M
You know that whole Seattle Seahawks 12th man thing ? Well, it actually started in College Station.
You can read about how the whole tradition started
here, but just imagine a huge student corps dedicated to cheering on their team louder and prouder than anyone else in the country, a winning program on the field, and a cannon. It's an unforgettable recipe.
Memorial Stadium holds over 80,000 people and one of the longest sell-out streaks in the history of sports. Let's put it another way, the stadium becomes the third most populated city in the entire state on game days.
Rated the No. 1 tailgating spot by several publications, Baton Rouge is a slice of cajun/creole football heaven.
In a town that feels like Mardi Gras all football long, this gourmet tailgating experience is full of alligators, pig pits, gumbo and crawfish boils.
If the food isn't enough to bribe you, how about a live tiger mascot?
Mike the Tiger lives a life of luxury right across from the stadium and gets pulled onto the field during game day.
Let's also not forget LSU has a really good team with two national championships over the last decade.
Tiger Stadium, also known as "Death Valley" is one of the most intense football environments known to man. It was former Alabama coach Bear Bryant who said, “Baton Rouge happens to be the worst place in the world for a visiting team... It’s like being inside a drum.”
They don’t call it The Big House for nothing. Since its opening in 1927, Michigan Stadium has ballooned to seating 107,601 people, the largest football stadium in the country.
The rivalry with Ohio State is arguably the most intense in the country as well. Ann Arbor bleeds maize and blue and few cultures in the United States can rival the passion the fans carry for their team each fall ... as long as they're not losing to
Still too soon?
When visiting the plains, you just need to know two things:
War Eagle! and Toomer's corner.
Not only do they have a live hawk fly through the stadium, but expect appearances from Bo Jackson and Charles Barkley during home Iron Bowls within a city obsessed with the only sport that matters in the state of Alabama.
And after a win, head on down to
Toomer's Corner to throw up some celebratory TP.
Just note that just as in Tuscaloosa, the RVs start arriving to Jordan-Hare Stadium several days in advance.
And oh ya, Jordan-Hare during the Iron Bowl -- by FAR the loudest stadium I've ever been in.
02 Ohio State
The students went as far as to cover up all the Ms on campus one year. And don't even think about wearing anything that resembles Michigan blue. Sport a new navy shirt, jacket, scarf... onesie (just me?)... and you're sure to get humiliated. Seriously, a guy I know bought a perfectly new blue Tommy Hilfiger jacket for 95% off only to get hit and run with by a scarlet colored slushy. Maybe it was the fact he was wearing Tommy Hilfiger? We'll never know.
Ohio State football trumps all other sports teams in the state, including pro. You literally can't go anywhere without seeing Brutus, that fun-loving poisonous nut.
Recent national title? Check. (2014)
Dedicated fans in a great city? Check.
Marching band? Only the
best the world has ever seen.
Go to Columbus, help dot the "i" and thank us later.
Ranked No. 1 in
USA TODAY's fan base rankings, not only are fans arguably the most passionate about their team, they have the winning to back it up, having won three titles in the past six years to go along with a Mark Ingram Heisman Trophy.
In fact, Alabama claims 14 national championships, more than any other school, and considering there is no major professional sports teams in the state, Alabama lives, breaths and dies with Alabama football (unless they cheer for that team on the plains).
If you want to hit up a game at Bryant-Denny Stadium and get the full experience, you'll have to get there early and pay a pretty penny. Not only do RVs start rolling into town several days in advance, but games against LSU, Tennessee, Florida and Auburn can easily reach hundreds of dollars for nosebleeds.
But just how dedicated are fans in Tuscaloosa? Well, for one, people don't get married in the fall. Yup, if you want to get hitched on a Saturday it has to be planned around football season, otherwise expect a very small crowd to be at your wedding.
And the traditions can be ruthless.
Lose to the Tide and with seconds to go in the 4th quarter you'll hear the crowd scream something like this:
"da nah...HEY TIGERS... da nuh nah... daa nuh nah... HEY TIGERS... da nuh nah...
WE JUST BEAT THE HELL OUTA YOU. RAMMER JAMMER YELLOW HAMMER GIVE EM HELL ALABAMA!"
And don't get me started on the Iron Bowl, the greatest rivalry game in the sport. The energy is unparalleled.
They already have a bronze statue of Nick Saban outside of the stadium. Just imagine what they would do for you if you can help them win one game.