West’s Best Bets – Life’s a Beach

Welcome back to the West’s Best Bets, this week’s installment takes us further down the California coastline on the famed Pacific Coast Highway and eventually the beach. With only 13 miles separating them, the schools of Los Angeles couldn’t be any further apart. While the University of California – Los Angeles is a public institution and the University of Southern California is private, you would think that the campuses were in the wrong neighborhoods.

Located in Westwood, bordering the extremely affluent towns of Brentwood, Bel-Air, Holmby Hills and Beverly Hills is a sprawling campus that was originally called the UC “southern branch.” The name University of California at Los Angeles became the official name in 1927.  The campus is absolutely gorgeous and is a short six-mile trip to Santa Monica and the iconic pier and beach park. It is no wonder that UCLA is the most applied-to university as well as being the most selective public university in the nation. Over 72,000 freshman applications were received for the fall of 2012 with only 17.8% were accepted. Time for the rankings:

Lew Alcindor & “The Wizard of Westwood”

Athletics Teams

  • Football – Bowl Record of 15-16-1 with a Rose Bowl record of 5-7, one National Championship (shared) and 17 Conference Championships.
  • Men’s Basketball – 44 tournament appearances, 18 Final Fours with 13 National Title Game appearances and 11 National Championships including a streak of seven straight. They also have 40 regular season Championships and three Tournament Championships.
  • Baseball – 18 Tournament appearances and four College World Series appearances. They have won eight regular season Conference Championships including the past two.
  • Softball – 11 National Championships and seven time runners-up.
  • 108 Total National Championships
  • Other men’s teams National Championships (60) – Volleyball (19), Tennis (16), Track & Field (8) Water Polo (8), Soccer (4), Gymnastics (2), Golf (2), Swimming & Diving (1).
  • Other women’s teams National Championships (26) – Water Polo (7), Gymnastics (6), Track & Field (5), Volleyball (4), Golf (3), Tennis (1).

The University of California, Los Angeles has a tradition of winning. The basketball streak of seven straight National Championships is a record that will never be broken, not to mention the litany of other records including an 88-game regular season winning streak, a 38 game NCAA Tournament winning streak and four perfect, undefeated seasons. Add to that their football team notched eight consecutive Bowl game victories; including three Rose Bowls and the sheer dominance of their Men’s Volleyball and Softball teams, I award UCLA – 28 out of a possible 30 points.

Do the UCLA Women Put Them Over the Top?


With such close proximity to the beach, Hollywood and Rodeo Drive, it’s no surprise that the women at UCLA are hot. I was thoroughly impressed with the current student body as well as three of my childhood crushes in Winnie Cooper, Jessie Spano, Princess Vespa from Spaceballs and Blossom, well, maybe not Blosssom. I spend most every day with a UCLA alum – the Food Network’s Giada de Laurentiis. Another notable UCLA hottie is Bridget Marquardt from the Girls Next Door and you know what they say “If she’s good enough for Hef, that’s good enough for me.” – 22 out of 25 possible points.

Local Bars & Pubs

It seems like there is always a party going on with all levels of beautiful people and celebrities galore within a couple miles of campus. So, if you are looking to see and be seen, LA-LA Land is right up there with the best scenes in the country. However, if you are looking for your neighborhood sports bar or college bar head to nearby Barney’s Beanery or O’Hara’s (the old Maloney’s), you will not be disappointed – 17 out of 20 possible points.


Beautiful beach weather with a wide range of temperature changes are the norm in the city of Westwood and nearby Los Angeles. Sunny and warm weather keep the co-eds in shorts and sundresses for most of the year and the beach at night is a crisp and cool alternative – 13 out of15 possible points.

I assume she is on the Honor Roll


As previously stated, UCLA is the most selective of all public universities in the nation and for good reason. Ranked as the #25 University in the country by U.S. News & World Report, #9 on the list of top research universities and #14 by the London Times for International Universities, UCLA is definitely a top tier school. Their roll call of alumni, students & faculty includes 12 Nobel Laureates, 12 Rhodes Scholars, 12 MacArthur Fellows and 3 Pulitzer Prize Winners – 8 out of 10 possible points.


Leaving the beautiful campus and jumping on the 405 to the 10, I head inland towards downtown Los Angeles. I am almost afraid to exit the freeway approaching the campus of the University of Southern California as it is located in South Central Los Angeles, yes that South Central. Absolutely astonished that such an elite private institution such as USC would be located in such a “diverse” neighborhood has put the school at a slight disadvantage with first impressions being so important. It is this diversity that the school has embraced as it has the largest number of international students of any university in the country. Let’s see how they match up with their cross-town rival:

USC Has a Rich Football Tradition

Athletics Teams

  • Football – Bowl Record of 31-16 with a Rose Bowl record of 24-9, 11 National Championships and 38 Conference Championships
  • Men’s Basketball – 16 tournament appearances, advancing twice to the Final Four. They also have seven regular season Championships and one Tournament Championship.
  • Baseball – 36 Tournament appearances and 21 College World Series appearances with 12 National Championships.
  • 95 Total National Championships
  • Other men’s teams National Championships – Track and Field (28), Tennis (20), Swimming & Diving (9), Water Polo (7), Volleyball (4), Gymnastics (1).
  • Women’s teams National Championships – Volleyball (3), Tennis (2), Basketball (2), Golf (2), Tennis (2), Track & Field (1), Swimming & Diving (1).

The University of Southern California is world renowned for its perennial champion football team. Its 11 National Titles, six Heisman Trophy Winners (not including Reggie Bush), 38 Conference Championships, the nation’s best bowl winning percentage (min. 10 games) and 33 Rose Bowl appearances are all phenomenal. What impressed me most is that USC athletics won at least one National Title for 26 consecutive years and for that, I award USC – 27 out of a possible 30 points.

Sing me a Song, oh Song Girls

Oh, my goodness gracious –this campus is on fire with gorgeous women. It isn’t just the Song Girls that are smoking hot; it’s the student body in general. There have been a number of notable USC alumni hotties including Miss India America, Diana Pinto, Kelly Preston, Cybill Shepherd  and wrestler/model Eve Torres 22 out of 25 possible points.
Local Bars & Pubs
You are most likely not going to want to go to many of the local bars in South Central, but definitely check out the college bar 901 Club or the 9-0 to students and there is also an on campus bar called Traditions. If you are venturing out into Los Angeles, the nightlife scene is stellar.  16 out of 20 possible points.

Same as UCLA – Beautiful beach weather with a wide range of temperature changes are the norm in the city of Westwood and nearby Los Angeles. Sunny and warm weather keep the coeds in shorts and sundresses for most of the year and the beach at night is a crisp and cool alternative 13 out of 15 possible points.

The University of Southern California admits approximately 20% of applicants with an average GPA of 3.7 out of 4.0. U.S. News & World Report ranks USC at #24 in the country and #48 in the world. The School for Cinematic Arts is the top-ranked college in the country along with video game design and physical therapy programs. The recent class admitted 247 National Merit and seven National Achievement Scholars. 8 out of 10 possible points.



It looks as though we have our first upset with UCLA finishing with a slim 3 point victory. The tradition of USC is rich, but the lifestyle of the typical UCLA student seems to be just a little bit better. Whether it is because it is closer to the beach or just in a fancier neighborhood, you can’t deny that both schools are wonderful, but it seems that UCLA is just a little bit better and they have Giada.

I have watched Food Network for Years – I Don’t Know Why

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