Disclaimer: some people aren’t going to love this article. Amidst the usual content of previews, recaps, power rankings and all the standard coverage that we give the conference, every now and then we like to add a curveball. Batter up.
In all actuality, take this read with a huge grain of salt. Certain lists like these don’t make anything fact, nor do they even reflect the views of the masses. More than anything fun lists like these are to spark some debate and friendly banter. Plus, we are well aware that each and every single fan base has their own set of dedicated and diehard fans, so no matter where your team falls on the list if you are reading this, I can assure you that you’re a phenomenal fan. Let us commence….
1. Boise State University Broncos (Boise, Idaho)
Trust me, we’re well aware that Boise is talked about quite a bit on this site. Honestly, they should be, and I actually love that people say something about it, because it shows there’s passionate fans in the conference. With that being said, BSU fans are just really amazing college football fans. The atmosphere on The Blue is unlike any other in the conference, and the entire town of Boise has adopted BSU football as it’s favorite sports team. They sell out virtually every game and the place is one of the noisier atmospheres in the country. Bronco fans also travel very well, and they have been well supported at essentially every bowl game this century. There are some other great fan bases in this conference, but Boise State is a no-brainer here.
2. San Diego State Aztecs (San Diego, California)
The number two spot on this list was actually the hardest to decide upon. This decision took some comparative analysis and it’s probably the correct choice, but feel free to disagree. San Diego is a really, really big city and the alumni base in the city is huge. When you look at the stadium on game day, this ranking might be surprising but we must remember the Aztecs are playing in a stadium that once hosted a Super Bowl. SDCCU Stadium is large, much too large for the Aztecs. With that being said, they have finished in the top tier of attendance the last few years and it’s a really good atmosphere when the Aztecs are good, despite the stadium size. With the departure of the Chargers and the recent success of the football program, the team has seen an increased following. In 2017, they finished far and away ahead of everyone else in attendance and the new stadium coming in the next few years will keep them at the top for a while. For a great city with a million things to do on the weekends, San Diego certainly supports the Aztecs. Additionally, pregame tailgates at SDCCU Stadium help solidify this ranking, as there is red and black everywhere before games in San Diego.
3. Fresno State Bulldogs (Fresno, California)
Similar to San Diego State, the Bulldogs are the benefactor of a large alumni base that is still around the school. Additionally, the Central Valley has really adopted the Bulldogs as their own, and their attendance is reflective of that. Bulldog Stadium can get really loud, and it’s always been noted as a pretty tough place to play, especially if it’s a full house. There are no pro teams in Fresno, so Saturday nights in the Valley are very much centered around the Fresno State football team. You could probably slide Bulldog fans down a spot or two if it’s a down year, but given attendance and the overall fan presence in the home city, they are deserving of a top 3 ranking.
4. Wyoming Cowboys (Laramie, Wyoming)
If we were doing a list of the toughest fan bases, consider the Pokes’ faithful a shoe-in for the top spot. In terms of overall fan base, Cowboy fans definitely fit into the upper tier. Laramie is truly a college town, and the Cowboys are the only Division 1 team in the entire state. Chances are if you grew up in Wyoming, you wear yellow and brown on Saturdays. That dedication makes them deserving of their ranking, and the fans usually have to face inclimate weather for the second half of their home schedule. The one knock on Cowboys fans could be that despite the smaller capacity of War Memorial Stadium, they don’t necessarily sell it out consistently. With that being said, there’s not a ton of people in Laramie (or Wyoming in general) but regardless they usually have a pretty good presence at games and it’s always noisy, especially when the place is packed out.
5. Utah State Aggies (Logan, Utah)
Honestly, Aggie fans are probably under-appreciated. I know this spot in the rankings doesn’t totally help that, but this is a really, really good fanbase. Outside of the fact that they have generally good attendance and a good atmosphere for football games, they are just dedicated. For a smaller state that contains the overly popular BYU Cougars (whose fan base is massive given the religious affiliation) and the Power 5 Utah Utes, any Aggie fan you meet is a diehard. Logan isn’t the biggest city, but it embraces the athletics of the university and without a doubt is in the upper echelon of this conference’s fan bases. Consistently higher attendance and they could jump a spot or two.
6. Colorado State Rams (Fort Collins, Colorado)
The opening of the new stadium last year seemed to reignite the fan base a little, but the Ram faithful belong right around the middle of this list. They did finish the 2018 season ranked 4th in overall conference attendance, but that was likely due to the flashy new stadium. Fort Collins is an awesome town, and likely a town that could boost the Rams up this list in the coming years. The on-field product hasn’t been spectacular, and the current overall interest in the football program is above-average at best. The new stadium does provide a great atmosphere, and they also generally have good student turnout at games. Ram fans can also be known to travel pretty well, so this is definitely a solid fan base with a lot of ability to move up.
7. Nevada Wolf Pack (Reno, Nevada)
Pack’ fans are a tough bunch to figure out, but overall it’s a pretty good fan base. Not long ago, Reno fans would be much higher on this list, but home attendance is near the bottom of the conference. The days of the Wolf Pack battling Boise State provided one of the better home crowds on the West Coast, but those days have come and gone for the most part. Like a few others on this list, this particular fan base could explode during a really competitive year. If that were to happen, this could easily be a top-3 fan base in the conference, but until then they belong in the middle of the Pack (pun intended).
8. Air Force Falcons (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
The support from the student body at Air Force gives the Falcons some points for this list, and the in-game atmosphere can be absolutely electric. Air Force doesn’t get overflowing amounts of community support, and most supporters are somehow tied into the school. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can leave Falcon Stadium a bit cavernous and empty at times. Air Force fans are however some of the most fun fans to strike up a conversation with, and the military tie-in is a fun niche in this conference.
9. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Somewhat similar to Air Force, Hawaii fans are also a really cool niche fan base in this conference given the amazing culture that the state and city have. Many players are homegrown, and the fan base also travels well despite the geographical disadvantage. I’ve always thought this could be an amazing fan base in a really good year on the field, and it has been in the past. Honolulu is a big city, but there isn’t a ton of community support even being the only Division 1 school in the state. If a new stadium is built, I could foresee this fan base being ranked much higher.
10. New Mexico Lobos (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Of all the fan bases on this list, this ranking might be the most indicative of on-field play more than any other school. Lobo basketball fans are absolutely amazing, but it doesn’t translate as much to the gridiron. The stadium is solid, the city is big but the fans just don’t file into the stands too much. With consistent winning that could totally change, but for now this fan base belongs near the bottom of the list.
11. UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Both New Mexico and Vegas are tossups on this list, and both of them suffer from similar fate. Very good basketball support in a large city, but not much interest in the football program, partially due to poor play. With the Raiders coming to town next year and the seemingly inevitable teardown of Sam Boyd Stadium, the Rebels might be staring down the barrel of a lot of tarped off seats in the new NFL-sized stadium. It’s almost the reverse of what’s happening in San Diego, where there seems to be downsizing to accommodate attendance. The Rebels best case scenario is having a few really good years, because there is a large group of sports fans in the city.
12. San Jose State Spartans (San Jose, California)
In the defense of Spartan fans, there hasn’t been a lot to cheer about in a really long time. There seems to be some signs of improvement, but hardly enough to interest a city that isn’t known as a sports hotbed. There are pro teams in the city, but those venues provide a lot more to fans than the aging Spartan Stadium. With a partial rebuild being done to the stadium and some small on-field improvements, there probably is a market for this football team to grow it’s fan base, but that might take some time. For now, they will round out our list.
Don’t worry, another list will be done during basketball season!