my attempt to ground the discussion of academics in reality. an analysis of 20 or so schools

So I am a huge realignment nerd and am fascinated by the process we are currently seeing and the prospect of joining another league.  Unfortunately with all this talk comes a flood of incredibly ignorant comments about the academic "quality" of various schools.  The san jose article PB linked to being the latest example.  I am writing this post because if I see one more person equate a school's academics to their undergraduate ranking in US News my head will explode (not because US news bothers me so much but instead because undergraduate units are far from the whole story).  Accordingly, i have compiled rankings for 20 or so schools across 12 disciplines.  Most of these schools are athletically or academically relevant in some way or provide a way to frame the group as a whole (hi Cal).  I know the US news rankings have been much maligned but I use them here because 1) they are a decent proxy for the quality of the program and 2) i am merely seeking an estimation of school quality as I think that will suffice for my purposes here.

By way of personal bias I went to UT undergrad (not highly ranked) and Washington U in St. Louis for law school (not considered here) and I did my best to avoid skewing any numbers or picking programs that would benefit Texas (but check the data yourself if you want, and include underwater basket weaving in your analysis if you see fit).  Also of note, the graduate programs selected were chosen because they are "major" areas of study.  I may be missing some big time majors but by and large you cannot call yourself a research university and not have a physics, psych, medical, law etc program.  The "Big 4" average and overall grad average I include require a school to have at least 3 of what I consider the Big 4 programs (med, law, business, engineering) and 8 of the 12 twelve for the overall grad average.  Relatedly, please note that this list focuses on a certain group of schools (research universities) and excludes liberal arts colleges.  This list does not include any of the ivy league, stanford, mit, duke etc etc (basically any of the top 20 undergrad schools) as the academic quality of those institutions is not in question and not usually relevent to a sports / realignment / football issue.  Research expenditures were not included because they are not usually helpful in determining school quality (ie A&M receives more research money than Harvard). 

programs looked at - undergrad, medical (research), law, business, engineering, economics, poli sci, education, psychology, computer science, physics, biology, social work 
GraAVG = average of the 12 prorgrams looked at (min 8)

B4AVG = average of law, med, business, engineering (min 3)

Schools are listed in the order of their overall average (please note these are estimations, i didnt have a calculator so I expect some of this is a bit off)

So here is the Data.  Be warned, formatting this was a major bitch and i have very little skill with computers so my apologies for the alignment issues below.



Cal    5.5     ~6          22        X       9       7        3         6       12     6         1        1      5       2        6

Mich     9.5     10         29        10     7      14       9        12       9      4         3       13   11     20       2

Tex       13.5     13         44        X      14     17       8       25        2     21      13       8    14     26      6

UCSD  13.5     X          35        15     X          X     14      14        X      7       17       14   14    15       X

UCLA     15     17        25        13     16       14     14      14        6    11       3        14    19    24     10

Wisc       17     26        45        26     35       28     16      14       9     15       8        11    17    15     12

Illinois    18     22        47        X        23       37      5       31      23    21      7         5       9     30     18

UWash   19    26        41        9        30       37      27     34       9     26     13        7      19    15      4

UNC        26   35        30        20       30      19      70      34     29    13     13       20     36     24      8

UVA         28    21        25       22        9        13      39     28      22    33     23       28     40    46      X

OhSt        28   30        56         X        35       25      29     28      20    17     17       28     23    46     30

SoCal      31   22        23       36       18       21      11     50      14    62      40       20    52    46      8

Colo        40   47        86        38       47       69      36     50      43    39      29       39    19     30      X

TAMU      41    X         63         X         X         32      13     42      34     24     74        47   40     71     X

PennSt   43   42        47         X        60        40      25     27    119    28     29        28    23    42      X

Florida    44   42       53        45       47        47      30     48      52     49     45        39    36    46     X

NDam     52   37       19         X        23        37      52     65       X       36     74        63    57    71    X

UGA         59  63        56         X        35       57     107     65      45     51     50        91    77    46   30

Mizzou     73   80       94        78     107       54       85      72     52    62      45       110   93     82   71

OU           90   88     111        84       71       91      102    80+   78     83    103       110  85   100   95



Some thoughts -

1) this list includes major research universities and state flagship institutions.  Just because a school is ranked near the bottom of this list does not make it a bad school.  For every OU there are a thousand directional Michigan U's that dont even earn rankings.

2)  Texas is an absolutely elite research university.  The only thing keeping people across the country from realizing this is the incredibly bloated undergrad unit (my freshman class had 9,000 students) that is not very selective (which i thank god for due to my high school gpa).  Its basically impossible to have a high undergrad ranking with that many people when the top 20 schools have ~1500 kids and the same or bigger endowments.

3)  OU sucks.  We already knew that but the numbers I found are not hot and anyone who thinks joining th PAC 12 will get them into the elite ranks is an idiot.  thats not how it works and even if it were OU has too far to climb.

4)  Notre Dame does not look good here.  A selective undergrad, top law school and a movie like Rudy go a long way to convincing everyone you are a powerhouse university (a massive endowmentand and a cult like alumni base doesnt hurt either).  Notre Dame, while an excellent school, should probably not be included in the strong research school discussions (research dollars back this up as well). 

5) a better analysis of these numbers probably would have dropped the lowest and highest rank (sorry Penn State). 

6)  Texas A&M as usual does not stack up on the field the way its delusional following would have you believe.  I gotta admit I was surprised by how low these numbers were but hey its my fault for listening to aggies.  To be clear, TAMU is a good school, but if the numbers i have compiled are a decent representation of reality they are not close to being our peer . . . but you already knew that.

7)  the Pac 12 is a phenomenal academic conference.  Cal and Stanford are amongst the best in the entire world.  UCLA, USC and UWash are outstanding as well.  Anyone should be thrilled at the chance to join this group.

8) I will say it again, formatting the graph was a major bitch, so apologies for the alignment issues.

9) the data gathered here was not delivered from on high (Texas is not a better school than UCLA).  this is merely an approximation.

    So any thoughtsout there? Criticisms?  How could this have been done better? Which schools should have been included?  Am I way off here? 

Hook em   

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