OT: EPL teams & B1G/NCAA analogies

Submitted by PB-J Time on August 15th, 2013 at 1:50 PM

So for those of you unaware, the EPL (highest level of British soccer/football) starts this Saturday. I consider myself a casual fan but that may change. For the first time ALL games will be nationally televised. This is huge. This isn't even the case in England (for comparison think of having all NFL games televised without having to buy some $250 package). Because we have a narrowing window before the good stuff (college football) starts and selfishly I need some help picking my rooting team*, I thought it'd be entertaining for those of you into the EPL to draw some analogies. To get the creative juices flowing here is an article from Bill Simmons with some background on the teams (its old so some teams have been relegated) and many comparisons are drawn to MLB teams

*I somewhat randomly have chosen Liverpool to root for, but now that I can see any team I thought it a good time to reconsider rooting for a team that wears red-on red-on red. 

So what I'd like to do is to draw an analogy (with explanation) for an EPL team & their associated B1G team (or elsewhere in college football if there is a better one). My suggestions to get us started:

Manchester United: The most titles and generally regarded as most successful=well us probably. That would make an easy one for MSU/the little brother in the rivalry=Man City. However, their fans are regarded as arrogant (unfortunately could still be us), and this team is widely hated by many other fan bases...so OSU? If you go outside the B1G then I'd say Alabama & to make Man City Auburn.

Liverpool=U-M. Hey! then I'd not have to change my allegiance. Also very successful, but recently had some tough years & have had to shuffle coaches recently after being absoluely dominant in the 70's & 80's behind fantastic coaching (sounds familiar?) I think that we are back to success more quickly than them. Would make Everton the little brother/cross-town less successful 'rival'/MSU...would make Man U OSU as THE rivalry.

Sunderland=Iowa. Slow, plodding, boring style.

Arsenal=Wisconsin. Sneaks in and wins titles when other teams with more talant don't put their seasons together the way they should.

PSU=Rangers. 1 of 2 teams outside of EPL (or B1G) that would love to be considered part of the league but never fully embraced. Now hammered by penalties and not a factor (makes Celtic=ND...obviously)

Rutgers/Maryland=the 2 Welsh teams...what the hell are they doing here in the league?

Outside the B1G:

Chelsea-Oregon. Completely irrelevant until about 10 years ago when a Billionaire poured $Millions into the program & now they have success.

If anyone has any other good ones, even non B1G or EPL let em rip...like:

USC-Juventus. Many titles, long history of succss. Slamed by penalties & trying to crawl back to the top.

Thoughts? Others?



August 15th, 2013 at 2:16 PM ^

for a more personalized approach:


Played around with the answers and was able to get quite a few of the teams, although it does seem to make the decision based on only one or two choices.


August 15th, 2013 at 5:54 PM ^

I got Swansea City, which I'm happy with. I have a great deal of respect for the fans in Swansea who saved that club and found a way to be successful in a sustainable way. The beautiful football is a nice side effect, too. With us down again (hopefully for just the season), I'm excited to follow them in the EPL for the year.  


August 15th, 2013 at 6:04 PM ^

I would take that picker with a grain of salt though, your "pick" shouldn't be your automatic go-to, there are 20 teams to pick from and you gotta watch a few of them to get the feel. Just because the thing says Spurs doesn't mean you should automatically pick them and stay with them. I'm an Everton supporter and I found them by chance really.


August 15th, 2013 at 3:31 PM ^

I hear you. I personally choose to support Americans playing in the EPL, much like I cheer for Michigan players in the NFL. That makes Sunderland the club du jour for me this year, with their addition of Jozy.

Additionally, Tim Howard will remain with Everton, but his starting spot is being threatened some feel. The club signed Spanish GK Joel Robles to challenge or perhaps replace Tim. 

Stoke City has an American owner, who has signed the American trio of Geoff Cameron, Maurice Edu, and Brek Shea, with Juan Aguedlo also scheduled to enter the fold in the winter transfer window.

Can't wait for the season to start, and I very much look forward to every game being televised.


August 15th, 2013 at 2:24 PM ^

to Liverpool is iffy.  Liverpool hasn't won the EPL since its formation and has gone nearly 25 years since their last top flight title.  Michigan isn't anywhere near that kind of drought (though it feels like it).


The rivalry analogies are interesting, I've often tried to explain Liverpool/Everton to others as Michigan/Michigan State if both teams were right across the street from each other.

PB-J Time

August 15th, 2013 at 3:26 PM ^

But that's the closest I can get. Given the levels of success...it'd have to be Liverpool or Man U yes? & Liverpool was dominant in the 70's & 80's, good not great in the late 90's early 2000's, and now not that good but treading up. Their local rivals consider them their biggest rival, but Liverpool considers the other successful team (Man U) their bigger rival...if you can do better please let me know (I really do hate red)...but right now I got Liverpool=U-M


August 15th, 2013 at 5:47 PM ^

I think its a solid analogy except for Liverpool's lack of recent success.  It might have more with my desire for Michigan to never have a 25 year stretch of no league titles.


Arsenal/Tottenham would also be a good analogy.  Or, Aston Villa/Birmingham, but since Birmingham isn't in the EPL this year its less relevent.


Another would be ManU/Leeds with Michigan as ManU, tremendous success against a club that wants to be ManU.  Only Leeds has probably had more success than Sparty.  Also not relevent because Leeds can't get its act together.


August 15th, 2013 at 2:26 PM ^

I've decided to choose my team based on number of American players. Sunderland just got Jozy Altidore, so that's exciting. Stoke City has three Americans I believe, with Juan Agudelo joining the club in January. Both are middle of the road teams. 


August 15th, 2013 at 2:38 PM ^

I chose Liverpool a few years back for the same reasons. Tradition rich club seeking to reclaim their spot at the top. Also, Drew Henson is a Liverpool supporter if my memory serves.


August 15th, 2013 at 2:39 PM ^

Sunderland = Jacksonville Jaguars.  OK, its not a college team, but so what.  Last year, both sucked.  In offseason, both picked up favorite offensive players to watch.  Both might still suck, but due to that player being on the team, they are my #1 teams to watch this season.


August 15th, 2013 at 2:47 PM ^

Arsenal/Spurs makes more sense for M/MSU for a few reasons.

  • THIS is always the year Spurs will surpass Arsenal, and 130 years later we're still waiting.
  • Spurs sucked for most of our lifetimes until the last few years. Now they're sooooo close... and they're probably going to sell Bale. (He's [reportedly] being held out against Palace and has done everything short of banging Dan Levy's wife to force the sale, Real is offering 100m euro.)
  • STAND UP IF YOU HATE TOT'N'UM (a chant I would love to see the students adapt and adopt, and slightly classier/more creative than "you suck")
  • Arsenal was great at the beginning of the millennium, and has fallen a bit based on trying new things (kind of like hiring RichRod, although Wenger has been around for the whole ride.)
  • In a typical little brother moment, Spurs lost their shit because London chose to give the Olympic stadium to West Ham. I mean it was in (or near) their neighborhood anyway, but Spurs felt they were more important and were ignored. Kind of like a certain school near us that wanted pretty desperately to be in the other division when the B1G realigned.


August 15th, 2013 at 9:53 PM ^

Admit it. You love Wenger's fits. It's always funny when Arsenal visits Stoke and the crowd mimics all of his antics.

But hey, he's never mandated that his players run to the bench to celebrate goals with him, unlike a certain someone. And its not like Theo Walcott stolen his goal celebration from Taylor Swift ... then tried to trademark it.

Blue in Yarmouth

August 15th, 2013 at 2:46 PM ^

is Man City being Ole Miss. The absolutely stunk the past many years and then just started paying huge money to anyone who would come play for them. 

Personally I'm a Man utd fan as I have family that live in Manchester and have hated City my entire life. Even though they are cross town rivals (like UM/MSU0 the rivalry is much more like the UM/OSU rivalry, one of the biggest in the EPL. 

Also, tthe other side of my family is from South Wales so I, for one, welcome the Welsh teams presence in the EPL (though I don't believe Cardiff is there presently). My mother actually grew up 5 minutes from Swansea nad we take in games every time we go home. So other than ManU, I cheer for Swansea. I do like the comparison you make with them and Rutgers/Maryland though...pretty funny.


August 15th, 2013 at 2:52 PM ^

Can't upvote, but I love the ManCity/Ole Miss comparison. Two teams, both been shit forever, both (allegedly) splash the cash on new talent .... let's see if Ole Miss can win anything.

Also, re: Swansea, I think the OP should give them some credit for finishing top half last season. Rutgers is Crystal Palace through and through. Both from the largest population/media center in the country, both largely ignored by that market, and both are going to be chum for the sharks. 

His Dudeness

August 15th, 2013 at 3:46 PM ^

I've liked Sunderland since they had my favorite player (McClean), but then they sold him off... but now they picked up Altidore and I can't change who I first started rooting for anyhow so I am stuck with the Black Cats.

My advice would be to pick a team that is regularly in the top 4

ManU , ManCity (only recently), Arsenal, Chelsea or I guess Liverpool... or if you want a dark horse Newcastle (even though fuck them) otherwise it just kind of sucks being a fan of a shit squad who has no realistic chance of winning a god damn thing for the rest of eternity. It's shite being Scottish... or some shite... mumble mumble... I'm getting a beer.


August 15th, 2013 at 5:45 PM ^

This is true... I fell for QPR over Arsenal (who played around the corner) when I lived in London for personal reasons, and while I don't regret the decision I do often feel annoyed at how irrelavent we are. There's basically nobody you can talk to about soccer when you follow a lower league team, and even when they were in the Prem it was clear that unless you're contending for the CL or Liverpool/Newcastle nobody gave a shit. 



August 15th, 2013 at 4:02 PM ^

I went through an intense period of soccer fandom that has waned down to a general, casual interest. I will flip on games periodically and I will follow the results, and for a particularly big European matchup I'll make a point to tune in.

Anyway, what I found is that while I had some preferences (I preferred Man U and Barca to win but I also enjoyed Arsenal succeeding and didn't always hate Real) I couldn't become a "true fan." The fact is, I can't relate to the same living-and-dying experiences of "true" fans who have actually, you know, seen the team play. And/or live on the same continent. 

And I have done those things for teams like Michigan (all three majors) and the Detroit pro teams. 

It's not that one can't be a fan, but that I felt more disconnected and genuinely less authentic. So, while I will, say, be pleased if Man U makes the Champions League semis or wins the EPL, I can't consider that experience to be anything analogous to what a genuine watch-every-game live-or-die fan experiences. And that's ok.

Because I have football and hockey to worry about.


August 15th, 2013 at 4:08 PM ^

Also, while some analogies can be made across the Atlantic, keep in mind that comparisons break down when you get into the histories of teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona. Michigan-Ohio State is unquestionably the great rivalry of a war-free, universally democratic nation for whom sports is a form of entertainment; the stakes for Barcelona (the major outlet of Catalan regional pride during the Fascistic Franco regime) and Real (Franco's preferred club, and the beneficiary of his influence in acquiring players) were quite a bit higher. 

The EPL does have some good analogies to the B1G, though--a handful of teams that will always win and a bunch of teams that have no chance. 


August 15th, 2013 at 4:21 PM ^

I randomly chose to support Spurs a couple years ago. If they keep Bale (unlikely but not impossible) I think they're a shoo-in for top 4 and could challenge for a title. Especially given the fact that Chelsea, Man Utd, and City all have new managers that will need to settle.

That being said, I think the top four end up as: Chelsea, City, Ubited, Spurs in that order.

I just don't understand how Arsenal hasn't made a single significant addition this summer and unless something big (Suarez) happens, I can't see them sneaking by Spurs again.


August 15th, 2013 at 5:40 PM ^

I generall buy into the Liverpool-Michigan comparison, which is why I like them (as well as Spurs and Swansea) in the EPL.

But, for better or worse, I'm QPR for life. All the people on this thread who have changed teams are a bit sad to me. 

snarling wolverine

August 15th, 2013 at 5:56 PM ^

Agreed.  Sports allegiances should not be changed lightly.  There's only a handful of acceptable reasons:

1.  You attend a different school than the one you grew up rooting for.

2.  You marry into a family that is hard-core into another team, and you can't really avoid the fandom of said team

3.  You have actual family/friends playing on certain team, that you didn't use to root for.

That's about it.  Changing allegiances from Team A to Team B because Team B happens to be winning more is lame - that's not real fandom.




August 15th, 2013 at 6:02 PM ^

I mean, if you're super casual (as a lot of soccer fans are) then I guess it's fair enough to some degree. I certainly don't expect most fans to wake up at 8 am on Saturdays to look for second division streams like I do every week. But "I used to cheer for Liverpool but I switched to Everton" is just what 


August 15th, 2013 at 5:49 PM ^

Also, before 1992 every Welsh team played in the English leagues. The biggest clubs refused to take part in the Welsh league when FIFA forced it on the Welsh FA because, like, the average attendance of the other Welsh League teams is like 600 people

snarling wolverine

August 15th, 2013 at 6:37 PM ^

Eh . . . it's pretty hard to compare pro sports teams (regardless of sport) to college sports teams.   Soccer in general -  and the EPL in particular - has become really corrupted by money and it's losing its character, especially since it doesn't have all the little restraints that North American sports have, like drafts, salary caps and tampering rules.  

College football has its own competitive imbalances, but they're not the same.  As much as Phil Knight wants to be Oregon's sugar daddy, they still don't recruit all that well, and they've never won it all.  Michigan may have competitive advantages over say, Purdue, but we can't just raid their roster for good players each offseason. 

The EPL/MLB comparison works better.


August 15th, 2013 at 9:06 PM ^

Very hard to compare college teams to pro teams.

If anyone is looking to get into soccer and can't decide what club to follow, one way to look at it might be to think of what you like about your pro teams you currently follow and try to find a close equivalent in whatever league you choose. One of the reasons I picked Wolves is because it reminded me a but of Detroit. The fans really appreciate a team with a blue collar work ethic. Both Wolverhampton & Detroit are industrial cities that have been hurt from factories and plants closing. And neither city will be a media darling again. I feel that both Wolves and a few Detroit teams are under appreciated for their contributions to the history of their sport.