As we focus on attendance today at ESPN.com, it’s worth having a little fun and taking a look at the fans who are the most visible on Saturdays: the students. They’re the ones expected to show up early and stay late, the ones who make everyone else stand for four quarters. They’re the players’ classmates, friends and their biggest fans. The student sections are the pulse of the stadiums, and while some of them are racing, others are, well, in need of a little shot.
Here’s a completely unscientific ranking of the five best student sections in the ACC, based on a combination of attendance, fun and good old-fashioned decibel level:
1. Clemson: They’re on The Hill. They’re in the stands. They’re on the field after the game. They’re one of the biggest reasons Death Valley is one of the top venues in the country, let alone the ACC. From the Tiger Walk to the Tiger Rag, Clemson students are loud and proud. They helped the program set a school record for attendance last year and finish No. 15 in the nation and best in the ACC in attendance figures.
2. Virginia Tech: From the pregame “Enter Sandman” entrance to the end of the fourth quarter, the students stay loyal all the way. They’re the ones who have made Thursday nights in Blacksburg special. They’re the loudest for the “Let’s go! Hokies!” cheer, and one of the biggest reasons Virginia Tech has had such an overwhelming home-field advantage.
3. Florida State: From Tallahassee to Pasadena, these guys know how to represent. Love it or hate it, the “war chant” is one of the most recognizable college football traditions, and nobody can belt it out better than the FSU students. Their tomahawk chop is unmistakable, along with their pride and passion in FSU football.
4. Georgia Tech: They’re at their best on a Thursday night, and they’re no doubt the heart and soul of Bobby Dodd Stadium. They’re always there for the entrance of the Ramblin’ Wreck, and decked out in their white and gold. Oh, and they’re pretty smart, too, those engineers. They’ve got a catchy fight song, and they’re always ready to answer, “What’s the good word?”
5. NC State: Carter-Finley can surprise you with its energy if you’ve never been there before, and the “sign of the wolf” is a must-learn if you’re going to sit with the students. (Even President Barack Obama learned how to do this while on campus in 2008.) NC State students have a lot of Pack pride, and they show it on Saturdays.