As we continue down Interstate 5 into the Golden State of California, we embark on the third installment of the West’s Best Bets. This week we take the long drive through southern Oregon and the Shasta National Forest on our way to our next destination, the University of California at Berkeley or Cal for short.
I knew that California was big, but I had no idea just how big after driving eight hours with really not much going on in this region. Heading back towards the coast and towards hippy central, I rolled down my window to check if the city really smelled like body odor & patchouli coming from the great unwashed. Much to my pleasure, there was no such scent, but I did have a sudden craving for granola and desire to play hacky sack.
A couple miles west of the Berkeley Marina in the San Francisco Bay lays the University of California Berkeley. This “City of Learning” was chartered in 1868 and covers over 1,200 acres with the central core of campus focused on 178 acres. Now on to the rankings…
- Football – Bowl Record of 10-10-1 with a Rose Bowl record of 2-5-1, five National Championships and 14 Conference Championships.
- Men’s Basketball – 17 tournament appearances, three Final Fours and are 1-1 in the National Title Game. They also have 15 regular season Championships.
- Baseball – 12 Tournament appearances, six College World Series appearances and two National Championships including the very first College World Series in 1947. They have won 13 regular season Conference Championships.
- 84 Total National Championships spanning from 1920 – 2012.
- Men’s teams National Championships (69) – Rugby (26), Crew (16), Water Polo (13) Swimming & Diving (4), Gymnastics (4), Tennis (3), Track & Field (2), Golf (1).
- Women’s teams National Championships (7) Crew (3), Swimming & Diving (3), Softball (1).
An absolutely amazing collection of National Championships shows competency in all sports and absolute domination in others. When it comes to the big three sports however, their last NC was in 1959 and only have only racked up three Conference Championships in the past 40 years. It is hard to ignore the 84 National Championships though and for this I award University of California Berkeley 23 out of a possible 30 points.
I wasn’t expecting much and thus I was not disappointed when it came to the women at Berkeley, at least they weren’t all Lilith Fair rejects that refused to shave or shower. The cheerleaders are always going to be hot, but let’s not forget about Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin and Playboy’s Ophelia Shalott. – 16 out of 25 possible points.
Local Bars & Pubs
In the town of Berkeley alone, there are several lounges, dive bars, pubs as well as Bison Brewing and the Triple Rock Brewery. For those adventurous types, if you explore the Bay Area the number explodes and the heart of the craft brewing industry is within a stone’s throw. World renowned breweries such as Sierra Nevada, Anchor Steam, Firestone Walker, 21st Amendment, Lagunitas, Lost Coast and my favorite Russian River Brewing are all within an hour’s drive- 17 out of 20 possible points.
Being that Berkeley is right on the bay, there is always a coastal breeze and although there is sun, I don’t think it ever gets hot there. On the plus side, the temperatures rarely drop into the 30’s and snow only hits the mountaintops in the winter. This Mediterranean climate is probably what brings out the hippies and it would be a little nicer to enjoy the bay without having to always wear a jacket. – 9 out of 15 possible points.
What can I say about Cal’s Academics that you don’t already know? The enlightened children of business industry executives and CEO’s are all dying to get into Berkeley to prove their parents that they don’t anything other than their iPhone and North Face jackets. On average, Cal only accepts approximately 1% of those that apply with an average GPA of 4.19 on a 4.0 scale. They are nationally ranked in the Top 10 in 48 out of 52 programs. – 9 out of 10 possible points.
FINAL GRADE 74%
I leave Berkeley and the super nerds behind and hit the highway to San Francisco for a little scenery. I jump on I-80 and begin my journey over the legendary San Francisco bay. Much to my dismay, I am not on the Golden Gate Bridge as I thought it was the only bridge connecting San Francisco to the mainland. I make my way through downtown San Francisco, pass by various hookers, mostly male and finally find the bridge…which is red. Sausalito is beautiful, but I have to get back to work and get my ass to Palo Alto, another half hour or so to the south. Situated on the west side of San Francisco bay, the campus encompasses over 8,100 acres just outside of Palo Alto. Here are my findings:
- Football – Two National Championships, Bowl Record of 10-12-1 with a Rose Bowl record of 5-6-1 and 12 Conference Championships.
- Men’s Basketball – 16 tournament appearances, four Sweet Sixteens, three Elite Eight, two Final Fours and one National Championship in 1942 as well as two pre-tournament championships. They have fifteen regular season Championships and five Conference Tournament Championships.
- Baseball – 30 Tournament appearances including 27 out of 30 years while going to the College World Series 16 times and winning back-to-back championships in 1987-1988.
- 61 total Men’s National Championships including Tennis (18), Water Polo (11), Golf (8), Swimming & Diving (8), Gymnastics (5), Outdoor Track & Field (4), Cross Country (4) and Volleyball (2).
- 42 total Women’s National Championships including Tennis (17), Swimming & Diving (9), Volleyball (6), Cross Country (5), Synchronized Swimming (6), Water Polo (3), Basketball (2), Rowing (1) and Soccer (1).
- 116 total National Championships and 448 individual sport champions.
- Winner of the NACDA Directors’ Cup for the past 17 years straight, the award has only been given out for 18 years.
Absolute dominance- for this I award Stanford University 29 out of a possible 30 points.
Women with big brains turn me on…as long as they are wearing skimpy outfits that show off their “assets.” Unfortunately, too many women had their noses buried in books and were always bundled up. The night life/party scene seemed to bring out some beauties, but I doubt they were Stanford students. I have always had a thing for Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Connelly though. – 20 out of 25 possible points.
Local Bars & Pubs
Much like Berkeley, Palo Alto has its fair share of good college bars and pubs but it seems to be overrun with wine bars, like it was still stuck in the 90’s. There is a Gordon Biersch and a local brewpub called the Firehouse Grill & Brewery, but you really need to leave P.A. to find some real night life. – 15 out of 20 possible points.
The coldest winter I have ever spent is the summer in San Francisco is a famous saying from Mark Twain an it pretty much rings true 35 miles south east in Palo Alto, but at least it gets into the 80’s there…or so I am told. The winters are a little cooler than Berkeley, but once again, no snow…just a bunch of rain– 8 out of 15 possible points.
Is there anything about Stanford’s academics that you don’t know? Wait, I am repeating myself. In a head to head battle of academia, the Ivy League of the West is head and shoulders above the rest. Stanford is a virtual breeding ground for billionaires, the millionaires settle for Berkeley. Google, PayPal, Netflix, LinkedIn, Victoria’s Secret, Pandora, Electronic Arts, Cisco Systems, Trader Joe’s, Dolby Labs, Charles Schwab, Capital One, Hewlett-Packard, Yahoo! And Sun Microsystems were all were founded with Stanford degrees. If you are looking to get ahead and you are smart enough, get your ass to Stanford – 10 out of 10 possible points.
FINAL GRADE 82%.
Although the oldest university in California is in Berkeley and everybody knows about how awesome it is, Stanford is just that much better. It is sad to see a school rank so well and not get past the first round but if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Stanford truly stands in a world by itself on the west coast when it comes to academics but to also win the Director’s Cup for athletics 17 years straight, there just no beating that and let’s not forget the tree.