West’s Best Bets – America’s Finest City

The West’s Best Bets hits the road once again leaving the City of Angels and heading down the coastline to America’s Finest City and my hometown, San Diego. If you believe Ron Burgundy, San Diego was founded in 1904 by the Germans and means a whale’s vagina. In the real world, San Diego was first claimed for Spain in 1542 as Alta California. In 1769, the Mission San Diego de Alcala was formed which gave the city its current name. In 1821, San Diego became part of Mexico and finally became part of the United States in 1850 following the Mexican-American War.

Enough of the history lesson, let’s look at two of the city’s major universities. I could hit the interstate and get there quicker, but instead I opt to get back on the PCH and check out all the beach towns along the way: Huntington, Newport, Laguna and upon entering La Jolla, the home of the University of California, San Diego, I realize that this is truly the good life. Recognized as one of the Top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report, this school is absolutely gorgeous – let’s see how it does in the rankings:

King Triton

Athletics Teams

The University of California, San Diego competed in Division III up until the 2000-01 season when it moved to Division II. They attempted to make the move to Big West Conference in Division I last year but the vote to raise student activity fees failed.

  • Baseball – Five Tournament appearances and two College World Series appearances including a 2nd place finish in 2010. They have won four regular season Conference Championships including the past three.
  • Softball – Reigning National Champions and six tournament appearances.
  • Women’s Basketball – Six tournament appearances, one Final Four and three conference championships.
  • Women’s Soccer – Seven National Championships, one runner-up, one Final Four and 11 tournament appearances in the past 12 years as well as seven conference championships.
  • Total National Championships (26 at DIII, 3 at DII) – Women’s Soccer (7), Women’s Volleyball (7), Women’s Water Polo (5), Women’s Tennis (4), Men’s Soccer (3), Men’s Volleyball (1), Softball (1), Men’s Golf (1).

The University of California, San Diego doesn’t have a football team, it fielded a team back in 1968, went winless and the school abandoned the program. It seems as though the women’s teams are the ones keeping UCSD on the athletics map finishing in the Top 5 of the NACDA Directors’ Cup five times in the past decade including two second place finishes. Suffice to say that the importance of athletics is not at the fore front at UCSD, for that I award them 18 out of a possible 30 points.

UCSD Alum Lisette Diaz


For a school in such a beautiful city, I was somewhat disappointed. I guess focusing on academics has its negative effects on the “hotness” level. Surprisingly enough, the female athletes were a lot more attractive than the traditional campus beauties- cheerleaders. While looking at their cheer squad, I kind of felt like they were all added on skill and not their looks. This is not to say that there has never been a hot girl at UCSD, former US Miss World Lisette Diaz and World Poker Tour player Maria Ho claim UCSD alumni status. – 17 out of 25 possible points.

Local Bars & Pubs

Located about 15 miles northwest of downtown San Diego and the famed Gaslamp Quarter, UCSD students are not that far away from some great nightlife. However, if you are looking to stay on or around campus, the best spots to hit up to watch the game or down a couple beers are definitely passable. My favorite was the Home Plate Sports Café with plenty of TV’s and an upstairs loft with comfy couches. When it came to the best pub and all-around setting, I absolutely love Porter’s Pub, but remember, it is a pub with beer and live music, so don’t expect too much from the kitchen other than traditional bar food.  – 15 out of 20 possible points.

Bikinis & Dogs? Sign Me Up!


Incredible weather with not much change due to seasons with high temperatures in the 60’s during winter and upper 70’s in the summer. Lows temps drop into the high 40’s in winter and mid-60’s on summer nights. I would like it to be a little bit hotter in the summer so as to make beach going a little warmer and thus bring out more of the lovely ladies.  – 12 out of 15 possible points.


This is where UCSD shines, trailing only behind UCLA in applications, UCSD is highly selective and the average GPA of accepted freshmen was 4.06 on a 4.0 scale. The current faculty has produced several Nobel Prizes as well as Field Medals, National Medals of Science, seven MacArthur Fellows and two Pulitzer Prizes. The school and its various colleges has been ranked in the top of their respective fields by 20 different publications and research groups. – 9 out of 10 possible points.


It is time to leave the hillside beach town of La Jolla and head inland towards our next stop; San Diego State University. I hop back on the I-5 and head towards my childhood home just south of the 52 and west of I-15 in the tiny town of Tierrasanta. I wave to my old hood and continue on down the 15 to the 8 and head west a couple miles to the SDSU campus. Let’s see how they match up with their cross-town rival:

SDSU Alum Marshall Faulk
Andy Hayt – Getty Images

Athletics Teams

San Diego State University competed in the NAIA from 1921-1956 before moving to Division II and finally joined Division I in 1970. They have been in the WAC and are currently in the MWC for one more year when all teams move to the Big West except for their football team which moves to the Big East…sure they are an East coast school.

  • Football – Bowl Record of 5-4, three National Championships (D-II) and 13 Conference Championships (Six in Division I). The 1966 team went undefeated in Division II.
  • Men’s Basketball – Eight tournament appearances, advancing once to the Sweet Sixteen. They also have a NAIA National Championship in 1941 as well as 12 regular season championships and six regular season and Tournament Championships since moving to Division I.
  • The Men’s Soccer team lost the National Championship Title game to Clemson in 1987.
  • 9 Total National Championships although only one at the Division I level. Men’s Volleyball in 1973.

San Diego State University athletics has only been on the sports radar for the past decade or so. Prior to the 2010 season, their football team hadn’t won a bowl game in nearly 40 years. The real stars on campus lately are the basketball team with back to back regular season championships. For that, I award SDSU 20 out of a possible 30 points.

Hef’s Main Squeeze Crystal Harris


I cannot explain how only 18 miles separates the two schools and yet the women are monumentally hotter at San Diego State than they are at UCSD. Perhaps it has something to do with the more lenient academic acceptance rate, so thank God for that. Once again returning to Playboy and Hugh Hefner’s favorites, Crystal Harris was Playmate of the month in 2009 and quickly moved up to Hef’s number one girl after Holly Madison left the mansion. – 22 out of 25 possible points.

Local Bars & Pubs

There are a number of great bars and pubs in the Rolando neighborhood near SDSU, but since you are closer to the Gaslamp Quarter, I suggest you hit that up for a great evening on the town. If you are looking just to stay around campus, I suggest hitting up any of the establishments on El Cajon Blvd. with my favorites being McMurphy’s Pub and Effin’s Pub & Grill, great places to drop in and watch the game or guzzle suds, nothing pretentious, just great college bars.   – 16 out of 20 possible points.


Same as UCSD – Incredible weather with not much change due to seasons with high temperatures in the 60’s during winter and upper 70’s in the summer. Lows temps drop into the high 40’s in winter and mid-60’s on summer nights. Even though the temperature doesn’t change, the ladies at SDSU tend to dress like it is warmer and thus less clothing – Win.  – 13 out of 15 possible points.

Gorgeous View
Photo courtesy of San Diego 12


San Diego State University is considered a “selective” college accepting in the range of 28 to 33% of all applicants over the past three years. For four years in a row, SDSU has ranked No. 1 in productive research facilities for small schools. It is also home to the first MBA program in Global Entrepreneurship and was ranked No. 9 by Fortune magazine for Small Business Entrepreneurs.   – 6 out of 10 possible points.


This was truly a no-brainer, sorry SDSU. Although the academics and neighborhood of UCSD are top-notch, the all-around winner of the battle for America’s Finest City goes to San Diego State University. With a larger athletics program and less selective student body, the fun of college will be found at SDSU. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t go to UCSD or even USD for that matter, San Diego is an absolutely beautiful city and their schools are great. If I could wave my magic wand and move my house to San Diego for what I am currently paying, I would do it in a second. If I had to choose between SDSU and UCSD for a more authentic college experience, SDSU wins hands down.


Big Winner – SDSU

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