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The 2019 Fan Misery Ladder Has Arrived

but I’m sure it won’t come for you, dear heart.

Arizona State v Utah Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

Great news! [your team] is looking better than anyone expected, [head coach] really crushed it on the recruiting trail and is predicting some big things based on a meaningless scrimmage they played two months ago. Sure, [aspect of football] was a problem last year, but [young coach you’ve never heard of before [[team]] hired him / retread who couldn’t hack it as a HC but is now your [[position]] coach] has completely shaken things up and should have them looking lean and mean this season. This could be the year!

Welcome to the new and improved 2019 Fan Misery Ladder. Followers of our inaugural year have no doubt immediately noticed a bit of rebranding, and we will get to that. For those of you new to the FML, this corner of the internet is dedicated to ranking college football teams based on the only metric that actually matters: the misery of its dedicated fan base. Misery is measured as a single integer which indicates the fans’ position on the ladder, 9 being complete despondency and 1 being the closest one can get to happiness - remember, in college football no one is truly happy. These positions are inspired by Dante’s nine circles of hell but are much worse because college football envelopes all of the Deadly Sins in a single hedonistic day.

listen some of us are into food play

This is at its heart a scientific experiment; here at the FML we check our emotions at the door (where they will be summarily composted). The rating system is 1) always open to revision in order to glean more accurate results, and 2) never subjective. All tests must be answerable in a True/False manner (I like to call it BOOOOOOOOlean). We have a simple set of governing rules to determine your team’s rung on the Ladder:


- achieve a 3 game winning streak

- achieve a 5 game winning streak

- defeat a team ranked higher than them

- defeat their rival

- beat a P5 team by 21 points or more

- make the College Football Playoff


- achieve a 3 game losing streak

- achieve a 5 game losing streak

- achieve a 7+ game losing streak (the Go Big Rule)

- are ranked and lose to a team ranked lower than them

- lose to their rival

- lose to any team by 21 points or more

- lose to an FCS team

- fail to become bowl eligible


This is our metric - every reader of the FML is embarking on this journey together as we drill deep into the psyche of the modern college football fan. In that spirit of scientific research and open dialogue I sent out a survey at the conclusion of last year’s Fan Misery Index to see what changes/improvements we could make. I aim to include some of the suggestions this season, and we will continue to refine every year until we have distilled the essence of sad. Last year we performed this medical procedure with a plastic melon baller. This year we will be using a steak knife purchased at the Dollar General in 2007. One day, if we all work together, we will have a scalpel wielded by a robot.

A quick rundown of the non-changes: The majority of respondents wanted the list of teams tracked to remain the same, so no G5 teams are added and the independents are all still in there. The majority also voted to keep the same scale of 9 tiers, keeping both the upper and lower bounds. There was no clear majority for what tier teams should begin the season on, so I am keeping it at level 3 for this season and we will revisit the question at the end of the year. There were some other minor suggestions in the comments that I will incorporate as we go along this year.


The name update was only mentioned off hand by a couple of people in the survey, but it also came to my attention that Dan Wolken writes a weekly college football column called the Misery Index. Not even college football fans deserve the misery of being associated with Dan Wolken, so we will make every effort to distinguish our metric from his. Plus several readers felt that the abbreviation should be FML, which is much better (thank you to commenter wigglewithit for suggesting the Fan Misery Ladder). The Fan Misery Index is dead. Long live the Fan Misery Ladder.


Here is your new graphic to complain about for the rest of the season. If you don’t like it then you only have to wait all season and I will change it again next year. We don’t make major changes like that mid-season. This isn’t LSU.

my great and terrible work


Look at them all sitting there, full of hope and relatively content. Eagerly toeing the line for this race, blissfully unaware of the kettle of vultures circling overhead. No misery of note yet, because no one has actually played and we don’t deal in the subjective frivolity of off-season distractions. All fans at this moment have a shred of hope, and that shred is the sustenance that fuels this metric.


The next FML will come out after the first full weekend of football, which means we’ll be back in a week and a half or so. In that time our heavy hors d’oeuvres include Miami @ Florida, a 42 oz grouper fillet seasoned with rivalry implications and served on a bed of 21 point possibilities. For your main course we have the Holy War and Colorado State @ Colorado, two delightful entrees to remind you that non-conference rivalries are, in fact, a thing.

Football is fun. Football fanship is suffering. Welcome to 2019.