Welcome back to the West’s Best Bets!
I trust everybody had a great holiday break and spent time with family, beer and of course plenty of college football. As we are nearing completion of the best colleges of the West, we are looking to fill the final spot on our Final Four when the new newcomers to the Pac-12 Conference enter a head-to-head battle. We will first visit the University of Colorado in Boulder, then venture 500 miles northwest to Salt Lake City and the University of Utah.
For those that might have forgotten where we left things off last year, here is a quick recap:
- Washington beat Washington State
- Oregon beat Oregon State
- Stanford beat Cal Berkeley
- UCLA beat USC
- San Diego State beat the Univ. of San Diego
- Arizona State beat Arizona
- Colorado beat Nevada – Las Vegas
- Utah beat Boise State
In the second round, we had the following:
- Washington beat Oregon
- UCLA beat Stanford
- Arizona State beat San Diego State
Now on to this week’s battle between Colorado and Utah for the coveted fourth final spot.
Located 25 miles northwest of Denver, Colorado, the city of Boulder has long been a refuge for hippies and those looking to eschew the modern world and all its accoutrements. The University was established the same year that Colorado achieved statehood in 1876 and the city of Boulder is often regarded as a premier location for health and well-being. It is also conseidered one of the countrires 30 Public Ivy League schools.
Let’s revisit the rankings to see how The University of Colorado at Boulder fares:
- Football – Bowl Record of 12-16 with one National Championship shared with Georgia Tech in 1990. They have won 26 Conference Championship although only six at the Division I level- Big Eight (5) and Big 12 (1). They have also won four Big 12 North Division Championships.
- Men’s Basketball – 11 tournament appearances, advancing four times to the Elite Eight and the Final Four twice. They have nine regular season championships and are the defending Pac-12 Conference Tournament Champion.
- Women’s Basketball – 13 tournament appearances, advancing three times to the Sweet Sixteen and three times to the Elite Eight. They have two regular season championships and five-time Conference Tournament Champions.
- Skiing – Leave it to CU-Boulder to dominate the sport of college skiing with 18 National Championships and 25 Conference Championships.
- 24 Total National Championships
- Other National Championships (5) – Men’s Cross Country (3), Women’s Cross Country (2).
The football teams of CU-Boulder dominated the Big 12 North Division winning it four of five years in the first half of the 2000s but have since been terrible especially after joining the Pac-12 Conference. The Men’s Basketball team in the other hand shocked the Conference in beating Arizona in the inaugural Pac-12 Conference Tournament. They absolutely dominate the sport of skiing with 17 National Titles, 83 individual National Champions and 50 individuals competing in the Olympics 80 times. For this I award the University of Colorado – Boulder 23 out of a possible 30 points.
One would think with such cold weather for most of the year, the student body would be bundled up in layers of clothes hiding what God gave them – one would be wrong. CU-Boulder is often listed in the Nation’s Top Party Schools by Playboy and other national publications and the women are beauties. Nicole Fox, a CU-Boulder grad won America’s Next Top Model and is an absolutely stunning redhead – 22 out of 25 possible points.
Local Bars & Pubs
Colorado has many local brews and breweries including five in Boulder alone, but if you don’t mind a little driving, some of the best beer in the country and world is waiting for you. If you are just looking to hang out around campus watch the game and pound some suds, Boulder has you covered as well. The Sink is a great college bar and I would recommend it to anybody in the Boulder area looking for a funky, hip vibe. If you are looking for a crazy drinking experience with some of the wildest concoctions in a rooftop bar, head on over to K’s China and live it up – 17 out of 20 possible points.
Cold, snowy and cold, even when it looks nice outside, it is still cold. With summertime highs in the 80’s, it is an incredibly beautiful time of year to enjoy the outdoors and everything that the Rocky Mountains have to offer. The summer is short-lived and when the weather changes, it does so on a dime and stays that way for a long, long time. If skiing and snowboarding are your thing, then Boulder is for you, if you are like me, I need the sun and women in skimpy clothes – 10 out of 15 possible points.
CU-Boulder has a delicate balancing act, ranked as top party school as well as in the top of many academic areas. It is the home of 11 Nobel Laureates, eight MacArthur Fellows and a stunning 18 astronauts including members of the Challenger and Columbia crews. Sixteen of the colleges programs are currently ranked in the Top 50 in the nation with four in the Top 10 of U.S. News & World Report’s latest ranking. It is ranked No. 24 nationally by the Academic Ranking of Worldwide Universities and a noted member of the Public Ivy League of colleges. – 8 out of 10 possible points.
FINAL GRADE 80%
I leave the beautiful city of Boulder and make my way to Salt Lake City. The two newest additions to the Pacific 12 Conference are just over eight hours apart but there is no direct path between the two cities. I elect to take the northern route up to Cheyenne, Wyoming and travel across the desolate state until I reach “The Crossroads of the West.”
Salt Lake City was founded in 1847 by Brigham Young and other Mormon followers. The University was started three years later in 1850 as the University of Deseret, the provisional name of the territory that included most of modern-day Utah and Nevada. The name was taken from the book of Mormon and means honeybee. The Beehive is the main image of the school’s seal and was renamed the University of Utah in 1892.
Let’s see how they did in the rankings:
- Men’s Basketball – 27 tournament appearances including 12 out of fifteen years. 15 Sweet Sixteens, five Elite Eight appearances, four Final Fours and two National Championship games winning one. They also have 36 regular season championships and five Tournament Championships.
- Football – Bowl Record of 13-4 with nine consecutive victories. Ranked #2 on the AP Poll following the 2008 season. They have 24 Conference Titles in five conferences including two in the WAC and four in the Mountain West.
- Women’s Gymnastics – The “Red Rocks” team has 26 Regional Championships, 30 NCAA postseason appearances, 28 Super Six finals and 10 National Championships including six in a row.
- 22 Total National Championships
- Other National Championships – Skiing (11)
The University of Utah Men’s Basketball had a great run during the Rick Majerus era in the ‘90s and the early 2000s but failed to capitalize advancing twice beyond the Sweet Sixteen and their last National Championship was nearly 80 years ago. Their football team has an undefeated season and two top five finishes in the AP Poll. The absolute dominance of their women’s gymnastics team is the true star here with 10 National Championships and is the only team to qualify for every postseason tournament, for this I award the University of Utah22 out of a possible 30 points.
When I heard that Holly Rowe of ESPN attended the University of Utah, I thought to myself “Wow, this is going to be a tough one.” I knew that their gymnastics team was arguably one of the best in the country and I love bendy women, so I checked out their squad. A great combination of cute, “girl next door” types, but not any standout hot women. I suppose that the conservative upbringing of many Utah students and the cold weather makes the female population less likely to show off their talents while on campus. Former Miss Utah and No.4 finisher in Miss USA Laura Chukanov claims University of Utah alumni status. – 17 out of 25 possible points.
Local Bars & Pubs
I was a little leery about finding a good bar in the land of the Latter-Day Saints, better known as the Mormons. However, I was pleasantly surprised not only by the amount of bars in SLC, but the amount of local breweries and accessibility of great craft beer. I absolutely loved the Beerhive Pub on Main Street with one of the best beer selections I have seen in a while. If you are looking for the best place to cheer on the Utes or other sports teams, our best bet is going to be the Green Pig Pub. They have an upstairs patio that is nice in the summer, live music and the food is of the gastropub variety – 17 out of 20 possible points.
Perhaps the largest variance of temperatures of all the cities I have visited as of yet. Perhaps best known for its blustery winters given its proximity to seven world-class ski resorts, Salt Lake City has an actual summer with highs reaching into the 90s in July and August. A city that experiences a full four seasons and is well known for the litany of outdoor experiences waiting just outside the city limits. Snow is very common in Salt Lake City from mid-November to mid-March. If you are there in the summertime, it is heavenly, but snow for five straight months is not – 11 out of 15 possible points.
The University of Utah has a current enrollment of just under 31,000 students and is home to the states only accredited architecture program as well as the only medical school. They have been ranked No. 1 in “Generating Startup Companies” by AUTM and also the No. 1 University Health Care System by the UHC Consortium. U.S. News & World Report ranks 17 of their programs and colleges in the Top 50 in the nation. ARWU ranks the University of Utah at No. 47 while the London Times ranks them as no. 51 – 8 out of 10 possible points.
FINAL GRADE 75%
Although The University of Utah and Salt Lake City are major hubs of education and industry as well as being an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, it is evident that the University of Colorado is the clear winner. Their athletics programs are good, their academics are great and the party scene in little Boulder is one of the best in the country. If you are looking for a true college atmosphere with all four seasons and plenty of good times, get your butt up to the Rocky Mountains and enroll in the University of Colorado-Boulder, I hear they just made marijuana legal there.