CINCINNATI – After all the “woe is me” times for Cincinnati sports fans, things are suddenly looking up.
The Bengals are 2-0 and the fans are not ashamed to wear their shirts in public again. FC Cincinnati has the best record and the highest attendance in its league and will go to Major League Soccer next year. And the reds … uh, let’s skip the reds.
University of Cincinnati Football? The bearcats generate their own buzz.
They are 3-0 and – guess what – they are number 1 in the country. Not the soccer team exactly, but UC fans.
UC has the happiest fans in big college football for the second straight week, according to the ESPN Fan Happiness Index. In front of Georgia, Oklahoma, Alabama and Clemson in the top 5. In front of 9th place Ohio State, 19th place Notre Dame and 24th place Kentucky.
Apparently the Fan Happiness Index is a real – if rather subjective – thing.
SEE ranks 1 to 130.
According to ESPN, the FHI tries “to quantify the unquantifiable: the emotion of every fan base”. “Remember, satisfaction is not just about how well teams do in each category, but how they fare in relation to fan expectations.”
UC has an advantage here, because Bearcat fans weren’t expecting that.
The FHI measures seven variables, says ESPN:
- Team strength and performance;
- Hot seat rating of head coach;
- Recruitment trend;
- Dominance of rivalry;
- Sales growth;
- Twitter Sentiment Rating;
- In-game panic rating.
How does a team that reached 4-8 last year jump from 100th place in fan satisfaction last year to 1st place?
UC fans had hit rock bottom in 2016 under coach Tommy Tuberville, who ended his final 4-8 season by stepping off the field and yelling at a booing fan “get a job”. When Luke Fickell came aboard in 2017, the new head coach brought with him an Ohio state tree and hope.
Count a surprise win at the Rose Bowl against UCLA earlier this season, a 21-0 win over Miami in Division I’s longest running college football rivalry west of the Alleghenies, and a 63-7 win over Alabama A&M and you suddenly have happiest UC fan base since Brian Kelly’s team went 12-0 in 2009. Those Bearcats finished No. 3 in the BCS, missing Alabama in the national championship game only with a controversial last-second field goal that sent Texas instead.
“We achieve this maturity to understand what it takes to take” [the program] to the next level. “- @CoachFick
👇 Whole Tuesday afternoon presser👇https: //t.co/NibjyhJJkS pic.twitter.com/myHmUgwvvu
– Cincinnati Football (@GoBearcatsFB) September 18, 2018
There’s no telling how long these fans’ love affair with UC can last. UC could stand 8-0 before reaching the tough part of their schedule against the Navy, South Florida and Central Florida in November.
It’s just a shame Cincinnati can’t be as thrilled with the Reds, who will finish last for the fourth straight year.
And that goes for Miami RedHawks fans too, whose team is 0-3. You also need some encouragement.
Miami fans rank last at number 130 on ESPN’s Fan Happiness Index.