There’s nothing like an engaging discussion about college sports to elicit colorful language from diehard fans. Sports talk shows, from networks like ESPN to online chat rooms, bars, and coffee shops, provide a forum for fans to verbalize thoughts on college athletics.
Based on a multi-year sampling of hundreds of thousands of fan comments on various Reddit threads, there is no shortage of “four-letter words” aimed at coaches, players, and even opposing fans.
Curiosity got the best of us, so we looked at the percentage of cuss words used, the percentage of comments with at least one cuss word, and the average number of cuss words per comment. For this article, we’ll focus on the percentage of comments containing at least one naughty word or phrase.
11-20 Athletic Conferences Where Fans Cuss the Most
11. ACC – 5.32%
12. America East – 5.22%
13. Independent – 4.62%
14. Sun Belt – 4.59%
15. Big West – 4.57%
16. Big Sky – 4.39%
17. Southern – 4.39%
18. Big South – 4.35%
19. A-10 – 4.29%
20. MAC – 4.25%
AAC Fans Excel With Colorful Cuss Words
Long-time college sports fans may recall when several former Big East schools left to form The American Athletic Conference (AAC) in 2013. Most major college athletic conference’s contain teams from the same geographical area. However, The AAC is comprised of colleges and universities from across the country.
Today, the conference contains 11 Division I (D-I) universities, including the University of Central Florida, the University of Houston, the University of Memphis, Southern Methodist University, Wichita State University, and East Carolina University.
Fans from these and other AAC schools use more cuss words in Reddit threads than any other conference, at 8.75%.
For reasons unknown, fans of Tulane University, based in New Orleans, toss in at least one four-letter word in over one-quarter of their comments. Houston and Temple’s fans lag at just over 11% each.
SEC Fans Love Sports and Four-Letter Expressions
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) is one of the premier college athletic conferences. Since 2000, SEC football teams have won 13 national championships, women’s outdoor track delivered 11, and baseball teams brought home another nine.
Nonetheless, given the intense rivalry among SEC football, basketball, and baseball teams, fans have plenty to cheer and cuss about since 7.66% of comment threads contain at least one word that mamas don’t want to hear.
Louisiana State University (LSU) fans threw out cuss words in over 17% of their comments, with South Carolina and Auburn fans capturing the second and third place at 14.49 and 10.31%, respectively. Maybe it’s their mannerly roots, but University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) fans only cussed in 1.97% of their comments.
Naughty Words Prevail in the Northeast Conference
You can’t lay all the blame on southern college sports fans when it comes to social media cussing. The Northeast Conference (NEC) comprises eight schools, including Fairleigh Dickinson University, Merrimack College, and Wagner College.
The conference has never won a national championship in any sport, so fans seem to have plenty of reasons to cuss. Slightly over 14% of Stonehill College fans swear when commenting on college sports, followed by 10.53% of Sacred Heart fans. Hopefully, the latter group confesses their verbal sins regularly.
Metro Atlantic Fans Rail On Reddit
Sticking to the nation’s northeast corridor, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) fans grab fourth place in the college-cussing contest at 7.37%.
MAAC teams are more well-known for lacrosse, swimming, and diving than football and basketball. That’s probably why ESPN College GameDay will likely never broadcast from Iona College or Rider University, whose fans cuss in at least 15% of Reddit comment threads measured for this survey.
Foul-Mouth Big 10 Fans
Moving back to one of college sports premier athletic conferences, fans of Big Ten member schools collectively cuss in 6.53% of measured Reddit threads.
Of the conference’s 14 member schools, the most foul-mouthed fans support Michigan State and Rutgers, with over 10% using one or more cuss words in sports-related comments.
You might think that Ohio State fans have little reason to cuss, given their football program consistently stays in the top five in the Associated Press Top 25 College Football Poll. However, just north of six percent of Buckeye fans allow their fingers to bang out bad words.
Pac-12 Fans Have Reasons to Cuss
Traveling to the west coast, Pac-12 sports fans follow closely behind Big 10 fans, with 6.38% using at least one four-letter word.
But give these fans a break since two of the conference’s major universities announced their departure. In June, UCLA and USC revealed they would join the Big 10 in 2024. That explains why Bruin fans lead their conference, with 9.66% of comments containing a bad word.
The University of Oregon, affectionally known as the Ducks, only quacks off-color words in 3.23% of fan comments.
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We analyzed thousands of Reddit threads associated with Division I college athletic conferences over a four-year period. Approximately 592,524 fan comments contained at least one cuss word.