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Introducing the Fan Misery Index

why exactly do we do this?

NCAA Football: Texas at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It has been well established in these parts that the goal is nothing short of a national championship, and it stands to reason that this goal is not unique to Aggieland. Schools don’t spend hundreds of millions of dollar on stadiums and fans don’t take out a second mortgage on their house for season tickets because they want to see their team make it to the Outback Bowl.

That said, there is only a 1 in 130 chance for any team to win the national championship in any given year (also 1 in 130 is obviously bullshit for most teams). So what happens to the rest of us? What fate is in store for the 99.23% of fans whose team does not make it to the promised land?

Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.

Misery. College football fandom is misery. It’s said that 9 times out of 10 you swing a golf club it’s a terrible shot, but that tenth swing is the one that convinces you to take 10 more. Football is like that; most of the season is spent in anguish punctuated by glorious upsets and fleeting euphoria.

So while the rest of the media will obsessively track the “best” team in football, this season we will ask a question that involves all of us: who is the most miserable fanbase in football? In many ways it’s an easier question to answer, and through the course of a season it impacts everyone in some way (not just an elite few programs).

The GBH Fan Misery Index (FMI) uses a simple integer scale of 1 to 9 to measure how much suffering each teams fans are experiencing through the course of a season. This scale was inspired by the nine circles of hell, a concept every fan can appreciate. For reasons of ease and laziness, we will be tracking only P5 conference teams.

The two most important concepts to understand are:

1) Generally speaking, fans of good teams are just as miserable as the fans of bad teams. This is because of Football Satan’s right-hand man, a foul demon known only as “Expectations”.

2) Football is pain and the base emotion is misery, so all teams start off the season in the Third Circle.

Every week a team’s fans may either remain at their current pain level, climb up a level towards the light, or plumb another level further into the depths based on the actions of their team.


  • beat their rival
  • put together a 3 game win streak
  • put together a 5 game win streak
  • are unranked and beat a ranked team
  • are ranked and beat a team ranked higher than them
  • beat a P5 team by 21 points or more
  • make the College Football Playoff


  • lose to their rival
  • put together a 3 game losing streak
  • put together a 5 game losing streak
  • are ranked and lose to an unranked team
  • lose to any FCS opponent
  • lose any game by 21 points or more
  • fail to become bowl eligible

So let’s take a look at how things look after Week 1. It’s early so most teams are still lingering at that baseline Third Circle and probably will do so until we start to get some of those win and loss streaks going. Nevertheless, we do have a few early entrants making a case for winning the inaugural Most Miserable Fanbase of 2018 award.


  • Texas Tech had a pretty bad day, but the silver lining is that they kept things just close enough. Their 27 points was good enough to keep their loss to Ole Miss to only 20 points, one point short of a significant misery swing with Ole Miss fans climbing up and Tech plunging further.
  • Week 1 featured two rivalry games with Michigan vs Notre Dame and Colorado vs Colorado State. A lot of fun misery to dole out there, the sort that A&M is completely insulated from.
  • There’s still a lot of season ahead of us, but after their home opener OT loss to FCS Nicholls State it’s hard not to assume that Kansas is the favorite this (and probably every) season.
  • Congratulations to Maryland, the first unranked team in the history of this metric to beat a ranked opponent! And condolences to their opponent’s miserable, miserable, fucking miserable fans.

So who do you think will be the most tormented fanbase of the season?