The 13 Best College Sports Cities

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People regularly talk about what the best college sports town is. Things like, what town has the best bars, restaurants, tailgating, or even “atmosphere.” We have previously discussed in the podcast how college cities are regularly over-looked by college towns but I chose to take it one step further. Certain cities are always known for their die-hard fans for professional sports. Boston is notoriously obnoxious, Philly is notoriously dangerous, and Pittsburgh has been notoriously spoiled. While we all know some of the best college towns in each state, we don’t hear about cities that are notorious for crazy college fans however.

Obviously I would have been biased with this list but to try and avoid the enormous amount of scrutiny I usually receive from the internet, I chose to create this list with numbers and math, two things I’m infamously bad at. I found some old ESPN articles that ranked cities on their proportion of people watching college football and college basketball games each year. I took a city’s ranking for two consecutive years and found the median of each sport. I then found the median of those two sport’s totals and subtracted the number of major D1 teams that have a solid fan presence in that city. If the city has any professional sports, I added the number of teams to the total because like golf, this ranking rewards lower totals. While professional sports aren’t unusual for a city, I feel it takes away from the “college sports city” vibe we are trying to determine. If a city didn’t rank for a certain year or a certain sport I chose to give them a ranking of 30 to be consistently low. To be considered a city, in my opinion, you have to have a major influence over surrounding towns which means a metropolitan population of around 400,000 or more.

I actually worked fairly hard on this list and spent probably way too much time making it for a site I don’t get paid to run. Nevertheless, God gave me a passion for nonsensical college sports lists because he has a notoriously dry sense of humor. Like I previously mentioned, I’m terrible with numbers and even more so, creating new numbers out of numbers. So the likelihood of me making a mistake on this list is fairly high, in which case the entire ranking is ruined. Nevertheless, I think the list is surprisingly accurate but just in case, I attempted to write out the “algorithm” with my extensive math knowledge I received from my communications degree:

Football Viewership Ranking, Football Viewership Ranking = Football Median
Basketball Viewership Ranking, Basketball Viewership Ranking = Basketball Median
(Football Median, Basketball Median) – Number of Teams = Final Score
[Required only for cities with pro teams:]
Final Score + Number of Pro Teams = Final Score

1. Columbus, OH

Ohio State & Cincinnati

Football: #5, #2 = 3.5
Basketball: #6, #4 = 5
#4.25-2=2.25

2. Birmingham, AL

Alabama & Auburn

Football: #1, #1 = 1
Basketball: #13, #14 = 13.5
#7.25-2=5.25

3. Dayton, OH

Ohio State & Cincinnati

Football: #17, #11 = 14
Basketball: #8, #8 = 8
#11-2=9

4. Memphis, TN

Memphis, Vanderbilt & Ole Miss

Football: #10, #16 = 13
Basketball: #14, #11 = 12.5
#12.75-3=9.75
Pro Sports: 1
9.75+1=10.75

5. Louisville, KY

Louisville & Kentucky

Football: #20, NR(#30) = 25
Basketball: #1, #1 = 1
#13-2=11

6. Nashville, TN

Vanderbilt & Tennessee

Football: #9, #16 = 12
Basketball: #10, #11 = 10.5
#11.25-2=9.25
Pro Sport: 2
9.25+2=11.25

7. Raleigh, NC

NC State, UNC & Duke

Football: NR(#30), #22 = 26
Basketball: #3, #4 = 3.5
#14.75-3=11.75
Pro Sports:1
11.75+1=12.75

8. Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma & OK State

Football: #8, #2 = 5
Basketball: #24, #23 = 23.5
#14.25-2=12.25
Pro Sports: 1
12.25+1=13.25

9. Tulsa, OK

Tulsa, Oklahoma & OK State

Football: #12, #7 = 9.5
Basketball: #24, #23 = 23.5
#16.5-3=13.5

10. Atlanta, GA

Georgia Tech & UGA

Football: #7, #5 = 6
Basketball: #24, #20 = 22
#14-2=12
Pro Sports: 3
12+3=15

11. Austin, TX

Texas, A&M & Baylor

Football: #10, #12 = 11
Basketball: NR(#30), #30 = 30
#20.5-3=17.5

12. New Orleans, LA

LSU & Louisiana-Lafayette

Football: #4, #5
Basketball: NR(#30), #30
#17.5-2=15.5
Pro Sports: 2
15.5+2=17.5

13. Richmond, VA

UVA & Virginia Tech

Football: #15, #25 = 20
Basketball: #20, #20 = 20
#20-2=18

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