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‘Know Rivalry Project’ facilitated by NKU researches intense rivalries in college football; Rivalry Week coming up


Ahead of college football’s Rivalry Week from Nov. 22-27, Northern Kentucky University’s Know Rivalry Project shares its work on the sport’s most intense and unbalanced rivalries.

The Know Rivalry Project at NKU facilitates sustainable collaboration in the research production, discernment, and dissemination of knowledge about rivalry. The project is part of a popular course offered in the Haile College of Business. There are four sections of the rivalry course in the fall semester. The University of Massachusetts Amherst, where Dr. Joe Cobbs, professor in the Haile College of Business, co-founded the project with Dr. David Tyler, is a collaborating institution for the research.

Dr. Joe Cobbs

“The end of November is the most exciting time of the year for fans of college football,” Dr. Cobbs said. “When I moved from working in intercollegiate athletics to being a full-time professor, I had to stay involved in the excitement and passion that rivalries spark. The Know Rivalry Project allows me, affiliated faculty, and our students to engage that passion by capturing the fans’ perspective of their favorite team’s rivalries. Through our survey, we go beyond just the games that get the most media attention, and we measure and compare the intensity of rivalries across college football and many other sports.”

In the project’s research, the intensity of rivalries is calculated using data from over 30,000 sports fans. That survey data is then analyzed according to 10 main ingredients for a “rivalry” that has emerged in the project’s findings. Those ingredients are consistency, conspicuous moments, conspicuous characters, competitiveness, spatial proximity, synonymous values/appearance, shared supply pool, dominance, disparate values/ appearance, and discrimination by authority. For a more in-depth look at the 10 ingredients of rivalry, click HERE.

The Know Rivalry Project’s research concluded that the most intense college football rivalry is Arizona vs. Arizona State. Army vs. Navy is the second-most intense rivalry, followed by Ohio State vs. Michigan, Western Michigan vs. Central Michigan, and Bowling Green vs. Toledo rounding out the top five.

According to the Know Rivalry Project’s research, among local and regional teams, Cincinnati’s most intense rival is Louisville, while Louisville and Kentucky are each other’s biggest rivals. Miami of Ohio’s most intense rival in football is Cincinnati. Cincinnati defeated Miami (OH) 49-14 in Week 1 of the 2021 season, while Louisville will host Kentucky on Nov. 27.

To read more on The Know Project, its research and the most intense rivalries in sports, click HERE.


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One Comment

  1. Joe Cobbs says:

    Although we had to tamper our normal ‘tailgate’ day discussion of CFB Rivalry Week in SPB 200 class (thanks Covid), we still had tons of fun discussing how the 10 common elements of rivalry relate to this weekend’s historic match-ups. It is great to see more student involvement in the Know Rivalry Project as we continue to expand data collection domestically and now internationally to over 60 leagues in a variety of sports.

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