We interrupt your regularly scheduled holy-shit-Jim-Sweatervest-Tressel-resigns and Iowa B1G 2011 programming to bring you this special report, on the state of the B1G social union. (Don't worry Hawkeye fans, there's stuff in here that is relevant to your interests. I promise.)
A few months ago, when we first got into the off-season, I wrote an article about allegiances and hatreds in the conference. I'd noticed through informal chatting with the other writers on this site that many of us had allegiances and rivalries in addition to the teams that we loved and hated. These were the teams that we would always cheer for or against if we watched them play on any given Saturday afternoon. Often, these secondary team choices were surprising, built on geography and family histories that we don't usually talk about.
So, in an effort to fill the gaping void in my content output, I surveyed our writers and asked them to write up paragraphs naming their secondary favorites and enemies, and briefly explaining where their feelings came from. The article proved more popular than I expected, and more than two hundred comments later, many members of our reader community had weighed in with their own opinions. Which, like the box office receipts of Thor, meant there was obviously going to be a sequel.
For Part 2 I combed through the comments and put together graphs of how our community as a whole felt about the different schools in the conference. Who was the most liked? Hated? And then, like any good lawyer, I offered completely unsubstantiated opinions to fully explain the results.
But then, a few weeks after that post dropped, I realized it didn't really tell the whole story. Sure, it was nice to see who we liked or hated as a community, but wouldn't it be more interesting to see how the fans of specific schools felt about every other individual school in the conference? Wouldn't writing that story be a good way to procrastinate all of the work I was actually supposed to be doing at any given moment?
The answer to both these questions was obviously yes.
So I went back to the data. I combined information from our writers as well as from the comments on the first and second articles. I gave each opinion a weight based on whether the person expressing it could be considered a primary or secondary fan, with the opinions of primary fans being weighted twice as heavily.
It's relatively simple - feelings were expressed with +1/-1 (secondary fan preference) or +2/-2 (primary fan preference). So a person who identifies as a primary Michigan fan and secondary Penn State fan with a primary hatred of Ohio State and secondary hatreds of Michigan State and Wisconsin would generate +2 for Michigan, -2 for OSU, +1 for PSU, and -1 for both MSU and Wisconsin. I collected all of these feelings in two matrices, one for feelings of like, and one for feelings of hatred. And then to see it all together I broke it down by school into color coded bar strips.
The result is something I like to call the B1G Social Network. It's a look into the ties that bind all of us within this crazy Midwestern conference. Like relatives gathered for thanksgiving, there are many degrees of affection, hatred, and apathy. Keep on reading to find out where your school stands...
First, a note about the results. Our community, while diverse, is not evenly distributed. Some schools in the conference have more fans or haters than others, which naturally meant more opinions to sift through. So any given value listed under a school is a product both of the number of responses as well as the intensity of feeling. Sometimes schools had quite a few responses, but a diversity of opinions, producing a scattered result.
To start, let's take a look at the overall "like" graph:
And the hate graph...
These graphs are read by looking at the school on the left and moving horizontally. So, fans of Iowa seem to feel positively about Penn State, giving them a +16 rating, by far the highest on their like graph. On the other hand, they really don't like Ohio State, rating them at -16 on their hate graph.
Of course, looking at affection and dislike separately is only so useful. To really get to the feelings of the fan communities as a whole, I had to combine them. So that's exactly what I did. I added the positive and negative ratings together and then laid them out in colored strips, moving from the most hated schools on the left, to the most loved. Sometimes the results surprised me...
Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa:
Illinois and Indiana both suffered from a dearth of responses. But we still got enough to make a few judgments. It's not really a surprise that both schools hate their in-state rivals - Northwestern for Illinois and Purdue for Indiana - but after that it gets interesting. Illinois then also dislikes Iowa and Michigan, both nearby geographic rivals, but doesn't seem to mind Wisconsin or Indiana. They feel slightly positive about Michigan State and Minnesota... perhaps because of the second fiddle status these schools have often played in their states or the conference as a whole? It is a surprise that Hoosier fans hate Ohio State more than they hate Purdue... and that they like Michigan State, despite the basketball rivalry these schools are likely to have in the near future.
Next up we have Iowa. Oh Iowa. So much hate. Hawkeye fans seem to dislike a wide variety of conference members. They can't stand Buckeyes, but also aren't exactly on speaking terms with Gophers or Wolverines. After that they dislike Huskers, Wildcats, Boilermakers, and Illini nearly as much. Most of these schools are either traditional or new rivals, or schools that the Hawkeyes have experienced futility against in recent years.
Iowa fans don't really feel apathy towards any school in the conference, but they come the closest with Indiana. As far as positive feelings go, they like Wisconsin a little bit, Michigan State slightly more, and they've got a gigantic crush on the Nittany Lions. They're like BFFs, omg. (Yeah, I can't believe I just wrote that either.)
Michigan, Michigan State, and Minnesota:
No surprises really in the hatred section. Michigan fans detest Ohio State. Sparty lovers hate their in-state brothers, and Minnesotans really don't take kindly to gratuitous public sex in their stadium restrooms. Or, you know, getting beaten a lot. Behind that mostly comes dislike of nearby geographic foes or schools that have had their number in recent seasons.
Interestingly, both Michigan and Minnesota seem to concentrate their feelings... with several schools in the conference rating general apathy on the part of their fanbases, and only a few generating actual hatred or love. The Spartans, by contrast, spread it around a little more, and are only neutral about the new entrant to the conference, Nebraska.
Despite being right next to each other, and Wisconsin completely whipping them this past season, the Wolverines really like the Badgers, and they feel okay about Iowa. The Spartans like Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, and Purdue, while Gopher fans will seemingly cheer for both the Illini and Penn State on any given Saturday afternoon. I wonder whether the attitudes of Blue fans towards the Hawkeyes and Spartan fans towards the Wildcats will change after the coming season, now that those schools are all in the Legends Division togther...
Nebraska, Northwestern, and Ohio State:
Though they are new to the conference, Husker fans are quick to judge. They've already determined that they don't like Michigan, and that they're not too thrilled with Ohio State, Wisconsin, or Penn State. I'm not sure where the Michigan hate comes from, but the other three are all schools that have been towards the upper tier of the conference in recent years, so it could be anxiety over future matchups generating that dislike. Much as with other schools above, I expect the feelings of Husker fans towards Minnesota and Northwestern to change as they encounter those schools regularly.
It's not a surprise that Northwestern fans hate Iowa, Illinois, or Minnesota. Those are all rivals, whether because of geography or hard fought games. What is surprising is the dislike of Michigan. Can't explain that one... maybe annoyance at historical dominance? Or law school rankings envy? Yeah, that's totally it. Meanwhile, Wildcats spread their lovin' around, rating OSU, Wisky, Nebraska, MSU, and Penn State positively.
Oh Ohio State... saying that Buckeye fans hate Michigan is almost an understatement based on the graph. They don't just hate Michigan. They loathe Michigan. They wish the state never existed. It's so bad that I'm sure the only way Cavaliers fans could hate LeBron James more than they already do is if he had joined the Pistons instead of the Heat.
But Buckeye fans don't stop there. They also don't particularly like Wisconsin or Penn State... probably because both of those schools have beaten them or played them to the wire in recent seasons. They also dislike Indiana and Illinois, but compared to their hate for other conference members, it barely rates on the graph. Surprisingly, they really like Nebraska, Northwestern, and Michigan State. I wouldn't be surprised if they change their mind about the Huskers in the future...
Penn State, Purdue, and Wisconsin:
Nittany Lions fans seem to have had it with all the talk of Michigan and Ohio State, declaring a pox on both of their houses with equal hatred. They don't particularly like Huskers, Boilermakers, or Hoosiers either. They couldn't really care less about Illinois or Minnesota, but generally like MSU, Northwestern, and Wisconsin. Oh, and they are totally broskis with Iowa, dude. Chest bumps and Smirnoff Ices all around!
Purdue reciprocates Indiana's hatred for them. These two are like siblings who won't even pass each other the mashed potatoes because they hate each other so much. Boilermakers also don't particularly like Iowa, OSU, or the Badgers... but they really love Michigan State. Given the basketball rivalry between those two, I thought that one was rather strange. Is there something else at work here? Help me out Purdue fans...
Like many fans in the conference, Wisconsinites wear their rivalries on their sleeves. They hate Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan. They dislike MSU, Ohio State, and Purdue. The Hoosiers and the Huskers don't really rate for them, but they'll totally share a beer and some sausage with a Nittany Lion or a Wildcat. Oh who am I kidding, we'll drink with fans from all of these schools. It's what we do, after all.
So there you have it, the B1G Social Network:
That's how the OTE community currently looks. Is it an accurate representation of how fans from your school feel about the rest of the conference? What do you think?