Admittedly, these 2,000 fans may be the best in the SEC
Personally, I hate, hate, hate talking about sports writers. I don’t care one damn bit what Pat Forde says on ESPN. And I think far too many of you get far too worked up when something is written in a poor light about UK. Some of the comments about harassing Forde’s kids or throwing a punch at Tipton at a game are just ridiculous and ignorant. These guys are just guys who write. They don’t move the needle of sports fans opinions. Everyone has already made up their mind about UK and Calipari and the program in general, so when any sports writer writes a negative column about UK, its not going to change the general opinion of the program. Let’s also keep in mind that most people HATE UK, so when negative things are written, they are actually appealing to the majority.
But I digress. Reading that Jerry Tipton felt that FLORIDA had the best fanbase got me a little rilled up. I don’t know why I took offense to that, but I did. Anybody who has covered SEC basketball on a regular basis can not truly say that any fanbase besides UK is the best without laughing in the process. But, instead of making ignorant threats or calling Tipton every 4th-grade name in the book, I did what a dork typically does, I am bringing stats.
First, I looked at each SEC school, and compared their home attendance when UK came to town with the home attendance of their other games:
Florida: 12,618, HIGHEST ATTENDANCE OF THE YEAR
Georgia: 10,523, HIGHEST ATTENDANCE OF THE YEAR
Tennessee: 21,214, 2ND HIGHEST ATTENDANCE OF THE YEAR (Kansas: 21,936)
South Carolina: 18,000, HIGHEST ATTENDANCE OF THE YEAR
Vanderbilt: 14,316, HIGHEST ATTENDANCE OF THE YEAR (6 other sellouts)
LSU: 13,083, HIGHEST ATTENDANCE OF THE YEAR
Auburn: 11,669, HIGHEST ATTENDANCE OF THE YEAR
Mississippi St: 10,788, HIGHEST ATTENDANCE OF THE YEAR
Note: UK did not play Mississippi, Arkansas, or Alabama on the road this season.
Now, I understand that those stats are mainly due to the fact that the other SEC schools gear up for UK more than they do for anybody else. But, part of that increase is due to the fact that UK fans travel to the road games in droves, more so than any SEC school, and probably any school in the country. Just look at the total fans that attend this week’s SEC Tournament, and then tell me which school has the most LOYAL fans.
Now, to give Jerry just a little bit of credit, part of his argument can be that the fans who actually show up for the games at Rupp are often times a little too quiet for 22,000 people. Rupp Arena is not known as the most rocking and rolling arena in the country night in and night out. For a big game, absolutely, its one of the best. But, some games the fans there act like they are watching a baseball game. Meaning get loud at the very end and eat hot dogs and popcorn the rest of the way. But, if that was Jerry’s argument, I would combat that with “THEN HOW IN THE HELL CAN YOU SAY FLORIDA???”. If anything, I would say Vandy or Tennessee have the best crowds on a normal basis, along with UK.
UK was the only school to sell out all 8 of its SEC home games this season. Vandy sold out 7 of the 8. To me, that stat alone eliminates the other 10 schools from consideration for “Best SEC fans”. I truly don’t know how Jerry came to the conclusion he did. If anything, Florida has one of the most DISAPOINTING fanbases in the conference. They are a 2-time national champ who can’t get 3/4 of their gym filled for big games. Are their students “rowdy”? Sure. But, so are UK’s and Vandy’s and South Carolina’s. They are STUDENTS. They drink heavy, go to games, scream for 3 hours, and then drink some more. Florida is not breaking ground with that one.
To sum it all up:
PASSION + TRAVEL + STUDENTS + SELLOUTS + BIG GAME ATMOSPHERE = BEST FANS IN THE SEC