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Ranking the Big XII: Fans Edition

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From envy to empathy, a comprehensive look into each fan base and their outlook on the season so far.

Justin K. Aller

Let me start by stating the obvious. These rankings are strictly my opinion of how I would feel if I were a member of the team's fan base and is obviously subjective in its approach. I did no research. I submitted no polls. I didn't even ask friends of mine who happen to cheer for the other teams. Basically, I made it up using the following criteria:

1)      Is the team meeting expectations?

2)      Is the team exceeding expectations?

3)      Likelihood the team has put a fan in an alcohol induced coma during some point in the season.

4)      Have the fans turned their attention to basketball season?

Again, this system is not designed to say who has the best fans, or who roots louder; it is merely a ranking of how happy I would be if the team in question was MY team.

#1 - TCU

TCU moved to the Big XII for the opportunity to play for a National Championship. They were snubbed in 2010, while playing in the Mountain West, due to a perceived lack of scheduled competition. That has changed dramatically with their inclusion into the deepest conference in the nation. After two years of struggling to regain their identity among the week to week battering that is the Big XII schedule, year three appears to be the one. A heartbreaking late collapse to Baylor is the only blemish that could, to date, leave them out of the four team playoff.

I'm not sure what level of hype is happening in Fort Worth, but these Frogs have given their fan base something to certainly be proud of.

#2 - West Virginia

Another conference newbie finds itself in the tops of my rankings due to their year three success. Yes, this team has three losses on the season, and with Texas, K-State and Iowa State still looming on their schedule, they are only guaranteed one more win (hint: it ain't Texas or K-State), but their losses have been respectable and to top 5 caliber teams. That should be enough for a fan base that hasn't seen lasting success since Rich Rod roamed their sidelines.

#3 - K-State

I would rank the Wildcats higher, but their fans have surely grown accustomed to this level of success under Snyder, and quite frankly, I feel they are a little entitled. The November disappointment game is still lurking out there ready to knock K-State out of the national conversation as early as this weekend. Or, if lucky enough to survive the bloody eye squirts from TCU, they make it all the way until December to have their collective hearts torn from their bodies. You know it's coming, K-State faithful. It's just a matter of when and by whom.

#4 - Baylor

Another entitled fan base that has quickly forgotten what it was like to root for a god awful program; Baylor fans had to have taken that loss to West Virginia hard. TCU would have been bearable. Oklahoma or K-State justifiable, but losing to the out of contention Mountaineers had to sting a little. Even with a share of the conference championship, or holding the title outright, their non-conference competition will likely keep them out of the top four.

I would love to know this pain someday.

#5 - Oklahoma

The thumping of Iowa State last week probably allowed a lot of Sooner fans a release of pent up frustrations, helping elevate them up a spot or two in this unscientific ranking. Glad we could help. Apparently, like Kansas, it's what we're here for.

However, as a team that is expected to play for the National Championship every year, the fact they will likely not even win their conference has to be a tough pill to swallow for the Boomer faithful. My empathy is not wasted on the likes of you.

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I'll be honest, the rankings from this point on were the most difficult for me. None of the remaining teams will meet any moderately optimistic goals for the year 2014.

#6 - Texas

Texas fans knew it was going to be a tough year, and perhaps even lowered expectations ahead of the season with the loss of several key players. A new coach, a new line and a new quarterback typically do not make for an enjoyable brand of football for diehard fans. The Longhorns expect the best but I think they realistically kept their optimism in check and that has probably paid off for them. Still, they are Texas and their deep pockets ensure they will not suffer long.

#7 - Kansas

I am pretty sure Kansas is numb to all things football. This is what buoys them to #4. A blowout loss to their former coach this Saturday may ruffle a few of the more casual fans, but it is November and their domination on the hardwood is just around the corner. As we Cyclones know, that balm can go a long way to soothing the sore ass of being a college football nobody.

#8 - Iowa State

Some of you will probably disagree with me here, but if you have been a fan of Iowa State for as long as I have, you are prepared for seasons like this. Along with Jayhawk fans, I have slipped silently into the world of college basketball. Unlike our near neighbors, I will still keep a watchful eye on the next two games in hopes of salvaging some shreds of football dignity, but ambivalence and amnesia will prevail should we not get at least two more wins. Come next August, this season will be forgotten and unwarranted hope will again course through my old veins. You cannot keep a Cyclone down for we are a resilient breed.

#9 - Oklahoma State

Poor OSU fans. Such hope, such promise. All that seemingly disappeared one cold November evening in 2011. Sure there was a surprising 10-3 campaign last year, but that appears to have been an aberration that set your expectations higher than was probably realistic for 2014 and now your dreams, like your National Championship run three years ago this month, are squashed. If you feel like talking about it, we'll be at the bar, with a beer waiting for you.

#10 - Texas Tech

I cannot even begin the depths of despair Red Raider fans are experiencing right now. Actually, I only need to look back to 2008 for a closer understanding. That was the year our football team, led by a highly coveted man brought in and believed to be the future (at least until he inevitably moved on for greener pastures) of Iowa State football, went 2-10. Our basketball team was nothing to be envious of, either, finishing with a 3-13 conference record. So, even though I do not like you, Taco Tech, it is your fans who have my empathy.

Congratulations, I guess.