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You can debate the wisdom of spending more than $100 million a year on your athletics program or whether you want someone like Jim Tressel to be the national face of your university. Yet this time of year, love it or hate it, college football reigns supreme in the minds of most students and faculty.

Gallup has even released a nationally representative telephone survey evaluating which conference Americans rate the toughest. Across the sample, the SEC rates tops with 30% of all respondents saying that the SEC has been the strongest over the last 10 years. But this total aggregate number is a bit deceiving and in fact as shown in the table above reflects the single minded brand preference of Americans living in the South. On the other hand the Big 10 rates tops in the East and the Midwest and not surprisingly the Pac 10 rates tops for those living on the left coast.