College sports are big business in America, producing billions of dollars in annual revenue for teams and conferences. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), over 350 Division-1 college basketball teams in 32 athletic conferences, playing over 10,000 games every season. While there are only 130 D-1 NCAA college football teams in 11 conferences, football is the most popular sport in college athletics. And, we were curious who the worst spellers in college football are.
To gauge the spelling accuracy of D-1 college football fans in America, we examined thousands of comment threads on popular college football fan Reddit forums. We analyzed the number of spelling mistakes per 100 typed words. The results of the worst spellers in college football will surprise you.
The Southeastern Conference, home to such football programs as the University of Alabama, Louisiana State University (LSU), and the University of Georgia, have dominated college football for the past 10 years. Yet when it comes to the spelling accuracy of SEC fans, they are not the nation’s worst spellers.
Everyone loves to make fun of the illiteracy rates in the Southern United States, where the SEC and ACC are predominantly located. Nonetheless, fans of the nation’s top independent programs (think Notre Dame, BYU, West Point) misspelled 47.35 percent of their words. Installing a spell-check on their mobile devices or computers may help!
What’s surprising is that FBS schools such as West Point and Notre Dame are ranked 29th and 41st respectively in Forbes Magazine’s 2021 list of America’s Top Colleges. The five other independent schools are Brigham Young University, Liberty University, New Mexico State, and the University of Massachusetts. BYU holds the 53rd position in Forbes’s top colleges poll to make things even more interesting.
Top Academic Schools Have Poor Spelling Fans
When analyzing all seven FBS independent schools, UMass fans topped the charts with 63% spelling errors, which also grabbed the top spot of all schools. The FBS team with the lowest percentage goes to New Mexico State, with fans only misspelling 29% of their forum words.
Snagging second place with an average of 40.93% of misspelled words is the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). ACC schools such as Clemson regularly compete for NCAA college football championships. Their fellow conference schools such as Duke, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, North Carolina, and North Carolina State also offer some of the nation’s top academic programs. However, Duke Blue Devil fans may need to brush up on their spelling skills since 61% of fans’ comments contained spelling errors. On the flip side, Wake Forest fans must use spell-check more often since their fans only misspelled 28% of their comments.
Sitting in the middle of the independents and the power five -conference pack are the Big-12 and SEC. Big-12 fans captured third-place by misspelling 39% of words on Reddit forums. The Big-12 conference formed when four former Southwest Conference teams (Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech) joined forces with the Big Eight in 1996. Texas A&M jumped to the SEC a few years ago. Conference lines will once more shift as Texas and Oklahoma join the SEC in a few years. Whether or not that hurts or helps the spelling accuracy of SEC fans is “to be determined.”
Texas Tech Red Raider fans led the Big-12 with almost half of their words misspelled. By contrast, University of Texas Longhorn fans misspelled words 37% of the time.
We’ve already mentioned the SEC as the most dominant conference in college football, having won or shared 12 NCAA D-1 football championships since 2000. With two of the top four teams in the 2021 post-season college football playoffs, their gridiron dominance seems poised to continue. Nonetheless, SEC fans won’t be winning any spelling bees since they average over 37% of misspelled words on Reddit fan forums.
The University of Missouri Tigers, who, by the way, has one of the nation’s top journalism schools, has a fan base that leads the SEC in Reddit spelling errors at 59%. Maybe some journalism students can edit their fellow fan comments before posting them.
As the oldest Division I collegiate athletic conference in the United States, the Big Ten takes the penultimate spot on our list, with 34% of comments made by fans containing spelling mistakes. The Big Ten formed in the mid-1890s when several Midwest schools banded together. Today 14 football teams compete in the Big Ten conference, with Ohio State being the dominant team by winning the conference championship and earning a spot to play for this year’s national title.
The West Is Best
Big Ten fans with the most spelling errors belong to the Indiana Hoosiers, a school more famous for their basketball talents. Hoosier fans hold a 46% spelling error rate. Chances are that Indiana fans are more motivated to improve this season’s 2-10 football record than they are at improving spelling errors.
Coming in last usually isn’t good, but PAC-12 conference fans commit the fewest errors when compared against other top conferences. For decades, the PAC-12 dominated college football rankings. However, the last PAC-12 school to win an NCAA D-1 football championship came in 2004. The University of Southern California took the trophy home. When all 12 PAC-12 fan comments are compiled, only 32% of the words were misspelled, making PAC-12 fans the conference with the fewest misspelled words on Reddit forums.
Accuracy Always Counts
While some good-natured fun over the worst spellers in college football can be humorous, spelling errors in your transcriptions are no laughing matter.
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As you know we wanted to find out who the worst spellers in college football are. So we scraped thousands of threads in Reddit forums for each college and team in NCAA Division I Football and ran them through an API to determine the amount of spelling mistakes per 100 words. This enabled us to place each team based on the percentage of misspellings, and create an overall ranking for the Power 5 conferences and Independents in NCAA Football.