Sports, Football, Column

ACC Hateabilty Index: Rationalizing Hate In College Football

Let’s be honest—college football is all about the hate. Sure, we all have a team or two that we like to support. Maybe, if you’re particularly tender-hearted, you can come up with one per conference.

But, reasonably speaking, you could probably come up with a much longer list of teams that you can’t stand.

Oregon. Nevada. USC. Texas. Tennessee. Miami. Florida State. Florida. Michigan. Michigan State. LSU. Notre Dame. Penn State. Oklahoma. You get the point.

Sure, some of it is about individuals—many of them long departed from the program. Tim Tebow? Not really my type. Colin Kaepernick? He owns a tortoise. Don’t get me started on LaGarette Blount. But the individually hateable players are just the tip of the iceberg.



Recently, I realized that I’ve never made an effort to quantify exactly what I find so disgustingly despicable about so many of these programs. Feeling a little bit guilty about carrying with me so much unfounded hatred, but unwilling to make any effort to get rid of it—because where’s the fun in that—I took inspiration from the Wall Street Journal’s recently published “Hateability Index” of MLB playoff teams.

After some soul searching about what exactly makes my blood boil about my least favorite programs, I managed to lay out 10 criteria, any combination of which are almost guaranteed to make you hate a program. Initially inspired to tackle the entire FBS (plus North Dakota State, because why not?) and come to terms with all of the hatred inside of me, I immediately realized, though, that would be a ridiculous endeavor and decided to start tackling the hate where it hits closest to home—in the ACC.

graph 4

The criteria, as listed in my ever-so-informing infographic, are as follows.

  1. How many “claimed national titles” does the school have?
  2. Does the school have a live mascot that it brings out at games?
  3. Do girls wear dresses to home games?
  4. How hateable is the starting quarterback?
  5. How many top-10 wins does it have this year?
  6. Do they have a short-hand name for their mascot?
  7. Signature hand gesture?
  8. How hateable is their head coach?
  9. Do their TV commercial obnoxiously claim academic superiority?
  10. How many players have been arrested in the last five years?

For each category that is a yes or no question, the team was assigned zero points for a “no” and one point for a “yes.” All others are on a scale of zero to five, five being the most hateable or actual numbers based on the number of times the team has fulfilled a certain category. The team with the highest index wins. Or loses. Or whatever. Let’s make this clear, too: most of these ratings are completely unfounded and under-researched, but rather a gut-reaction which, when we’re talking about hateablility, is really what matters.

I’m not going to take 5,000 words to go through each rating that I gave each team in each category. That would be absurd. Instead, here are the highlights of my findings.

  1. How many “claimed national titles” does the school have? What is a claimed national title? Apparently, it’s some sort of metric that Wikipedia uses and goes back as far as 1915, when Pittsburgh won its national title, so we’re going to roll with it. No real surprises here, except the fact that Pitt somehow manages to claim three times as many national titles as any other team in the ACC. Seems shady to me.

  2. Does the school have a live mascot that it brings out at games? Here is where my system breaks down a little. I find the idea of bringing a horned sheep (looking at you, UNC) pretty stupid. Also, while this is a yes or no question, Florida State got two points for claiming to have a live Native American riding on a horse. Be that as it may, NC State actually gained negative hateability for its live mascot, Tuffy, a large wolf-like dog, who is adorable.


Tuffy is a hero and the lone survivor after the rest of his family was tragically poisoned and euthanized.



  1. Do girls wear dresses to home games? I’ll admit it—I think I would probably enjoy this. Regardless, it’s also an extremely pretentious, fake southern thing that all of the North Carolina schools do and it cannot stand. Extra points to Wake Forest for this one, where it appears the fans don’t even bother wearing the school colors.

  2. How hateable is their starting quarterback? Perhaps the area where Florida State excels the most, all others pale in comparison to the hateability of the one and only Jameis Winston, who has captured our hearts through sexual assault allegations and crab leg theft, not to mention a Heisman and a National Championship.


  1. How many top-10 wins does it have this year? How are BC and Virginia Tech the only teams in the ACC with top-10 wins this year?


In hindsight, this metric sucks and has no meaning because both of those teams have lost hateablity points in their failures following their top-10 wins.

6. Do they have a shorthand name for their mascot? Fun fact: this is much more common in the ACC Atlantic than it is in the Coastal division. While no shorthand is particularly more hateable than the next, any name (’Noles, Eags, Pack, etc.) is enough to earn a point on my list, especially when they start putting it on shirts.


  1. If they have a signature hand gesture. Did you know NC State has the same hand gesture as Texas? Fun fact. Also, while I’ll admit that seeing a sea of Florida State fans do their tomahawk thing is pretty intimidating and cool, that’s the exact reason why it’s so hateable.


  1. How hateable is the head coach? Formerly of the University of Arkansas until he was released for an inappropriate relationship with a female employee, Bobby Petrino of Louisville takes the cake here. The inappropriate relationship isn’t all, though—he has also been accused of cheating on his wife, then getting in a motorcycle accident (with the girl he was cheating with on his back) while trying to cover it up. Also, he coached at Nevada, so screw that.

  2. Does their TV commercial obnoxiously claim academic superiority? The saddest part about this is that I’ve now watched the TV spot for every school in the ACC. What I found most surprising, though, was the fact that not all of them overtly claimed that they were better than everyone else. Florida State, UVA, Pitt, Duke, and UNC all absolutely did.

  3. How many players have been arrested in the last five years? This one was easily the most fun. I made one of my most valuable internet discoveries ever when I came across, a site that sorts athlete arrests by team, and it’s not just college football. There are listings for MLB, NHL, NCAA basketball, college softball and many, many more. Pitt was the dark horse here, with 15 separate arrests. While most schools had repeat offenders (repeat arrests were only counted once), Pitt had 15 separate people make the list.

So what did we learn? Pitt is really really hateable. Besides that, I already knew that Florida State would be the most hateable team in the ACC, but now I have the data to back it up.

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor

October 9, 2014