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The 10 Most Lovable People In College Sports

It's almost Valentine's Day and love is in the air. All over the United States, people are preparing to spend the holiday with their significant others. Candy and flower sales are about to spike. 

When it comes to college sports, there are a select few figures that are almost universally loved and respected. Whether it's because of talent, looks, personality or a combination of the three, these people have a way of appealing to college sports fans nationwide.

As Valentine's Day approaches, we're going to give you the 10 most lovable people in college sports. They fill a wide variety of roles and come from vastly different backgrounds, but they have one thing in common: you love them (and if you don't, you should). 

Let's get started.

First: Buddy Hield >>>

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield

Hield is a rarity in college basketball: a senior who stayed in school, developed his game and is now absolutely killing the competition. He is currently the front-runner for college hoops' player of the year awards and his statistics are outrageous: 25.7 points per game on 51.8 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent marksmanship from beyond the arc.

A projected first-round draft pick, Hield's bright smile and infectious personality turn up frequently in post-game interviews, usually after he's destroyed his opponent. The Bahamian native has the Sooners near the top of the polls and in contention for the Big 12 and national titles. 

If you're looking for someone easy to root for in next month's NCAA Tournament, Hield is the guy.

Next: Bill Raftery >>>

Bill Raftery

The 72-year-old Raftery has been a college basketball analyst for over 30 years. He's been a fixture on CBS Sports' NCAA Tournament coverage and any huge college hoops fan can rattle off Raf's patented catchphrases ("Send It In, Big Fella!", "Man-to-man!", "Onions!" etc.). 

The New Jersey native is basically everyone's favorite uncle, rattling off college basketball anecdotes and making games more fun for everyone. When Raf's on the call, you know it's a big game, and you know you're going to enjoy yourself listening for the next couple of hours.

 Next: Lee Corso >>>

Lee Corso

Corso has been a part of ESPN's College GameDay since it debuted in 1987, and his weekly helmet picks are the stuff of legend. People tune in to see which headgear he'll put to signify his pick in the premier game of the day.

A former head coach at Louisville, Indiana and Northern Illinois, Corso's sunny demeanor and rapport with his co-hosts make him eminently likable. He's a college football fixture. 

Next: Les Miles >>>

Les Miles

LSU's head football coach is as lovable as they come in college football. Each coach is loved within their own fan base, but few can make a rival's fan smile like Miles. Dubbed "The Mad Hatter," he is a character on the sidelines as well as in front of the press. Whether it's chewing grass or cracking a joke that makes the press erupt in laughter, LSU's head coach is a hard one to hate - for anybody. 

Next: Sam Ponder >>>

Sam Ponder

When Erin Andrews decided to move on from ESPN's College GameDay, it was hard to imagine anybody stepping in to replace such a talent, but Sam Ponder did just that, stealing the hearts of college football fans all around the country. Whether its her witty banter with the other members of the cast or her love of the game, it's hard not to be swept into the programs Saturday mornings when she makes her appearance.

Oh, she also named her baby, Bowden Sainte-Claire, after one of college football's most lovable coaches in Bobby Bowden. What college football fan doesn't love that?


Fake smile. I'm freezing. RT @MsPotts_ESPN: @sam_ponder hosting #CFBLive next on ESPN from a chilly T-town

— Sam Ponder (@sam_ponder) November 14, 2014

">@sam_ponder hosting #CFBLive next on ESPN from a chilly T-town

— Sam Steele Ponder (@sam_ponder)

Fake smile. I'm freezing. RT @MsPotts_ESPN: @sam_ponder hosting #CFBLive next on ESPN from a chilly T-town

— Sam Ponder (@sam_ponder) November 14, 2014

">November 14, 2014

Next: Deshaun Watson >>>

Deshaun Watson

Clemson's starting quarterback Deshaun Watson is a leader of men on and off the field, and he captured the hearts of college football this past season as the Tigers came up just short of a national title. A cool character, Watson never seems flustered - on the field or with the press - and this is an extremely likable characteristic, especially in a quarterback.

With such a successful 2015 season, it's easy to see why people are leaning on him to lead the Heisman race next season. 

Next: Holly Rowe >>>

Holly Rowe

ESPN's Holly Rowe is a consummate professional, covering college football and basketball for the network since 1998. Earlier this month, ESPN announced that Rowe was having a tumor removed from her chest for the second time in the last year. While the news was unfortunate, the outpouring of support that she received from the sports world was pretty amazing.

Head coaching greats like Les Miles and Bill Self both paid tribute to Rowe in the days following the announcement.

Well I am in tears. Just humbled and amazed by the love my sports families have shown to me! Thanks @kuhoops and @franfraschilla

Posted by Holly Rowe on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Get well soon, Holly.

Next: Christian McCaffrey >>>

Christian McCaffrey:

McCaffrey entered 2015 as a relative unknown. The Stanford running back had a nice freshman season, totaling 550 yards and two touchdowns, but nothing could prepare those outside of Palo Alto for what he would do as a sophomore. McCaffrey finished second to Derrick Henry in Heisman balloting, and took home the AP's Player of the Year award. Oh, and he broke Barry Sanders' single season all-purpose yardage record. It doesn't get much better than that.

It doesn't hurt that, by all accounts, McCaffrey is a good guy off the field as well. With he and Deshaun Watson returning next year, college football has a pair of incredibly charismatic, likable superstars headlining the Heisman race in 2016.

Next: Gus Johnson >>>

Gus Johnson:

We admit, Gus Johnson isn't for everybody. Some think that he overplays certain moments, and his foray into soccer did not go very well. However, when it comes to dramatic moments in college sports, especially when he worked the NCAA Tournament, there is no one better on the call. 

Johnson currently calls college football and does games for the Milwaukee Bucks. However, in our opinion, he's at his best during college basketball season. 

Next: Kaylee Hartung >>>

Kaylee Hartung:

Few people in sports media are rising as quickly as ESPN reporter Kaylee Hartung. She was bumped up to ESPN's Thursday night football crew this year, joining Joe Tessitore, Jesse Palmer and David Pollack, and people throughout the SEC are big fans. She's made Nick Saban smile, a rare accomplishment, Kentucky fans and athletes have shown their affection for her, and she was even proposed to in Arkansas one time.

Expect to see plenty of Kaylee on ESPN in the future. 

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