As your guidance counselor, I have to ask the hard questions,
such as "Is college right for you?" and "Which college is right
for you?" and "Aren't guidance and counsel the same thing, when
you think about it?" You'll find the answers to these and other
questions in this informative new guide by the authors of
Smoking Stunts Your Growth and So You Wanna Be a Chiropractor?
This is an article from the April 28, 1997 issue
IS COLLEGE RIGHT FOR YOU?
If you think college is all fun and games, well, you got that
right. College is all fun and games--or can be, if you play your
cards right. And you can learn to play your cards right at UNLV,
which offers a course called Mathematics of Casino Games. Which
is not to say that college is all about keno and baccarat. On
the contrary: College is also very much about flag floopball
(football using a Nerf ball), which you can play at Western
Carolina. In fact, at your modern American institution of higher
learning, you can earn a bowling scholarship (Wichita State). Or
take a course in coaching football (Florida [page 84] and
elsewhere). Or compete in an intramural chili cook-off (Boise
State). Or play 36 holes a day on campus (dozens of schools). Or
practically take root in a sports bar called Bubba's II (page
84). Or just sit in your dorm room all day and watch ESPN in
your underwear. All of which is why they call it a bachelor's
degree. In short, if you like to play sports, watch sports or
study sports (in preparation for an exciting career in sports);
if you believe that athletic scholarship is a redundancy,
ranking right up there with guidance counselor; if you enjoy the
kind of tailgating, Yale-baiting, cheerleading, beer-bleeding
sports scene that only a college campus can provide, then
college is most certainly for you.
But not just any college will do. You have to attend a Jock
WHAT IS A JOCK SCHOOL?
A Jock School is any college or university in which sports are
central to campus life, a place where sports-minded students can
flourish. Stanford is a Jock School. Princeton is a Jock School.
Cal is Jock School. Which is to say, you can get a world-class
education at a Jock School, just as you can get a salad at
McDonald's. But that's not why you go there, is it?
No, in selecting the proper Jock School for you, academics are,
well...academic. Pay no attention to the library, unless it was
built by the guy who founded Nike (page 82). Ask not "Are tutors
available for remedial study?" but rather "Are the song girls
available for private parties?" (They are at USC, though the
band comes with them.) Why fill that pointy head of yours with
fancy book-learnin' when you could be watching baseball at
Mississippi State's remarkable Dudy Noble Field (page 84)?
Education may be noble, but it is hardly your dudy.
"Education," somebody once said, "is what remains after you have
forgotten everything you have learned." To which an educated
person might say "b.s.," which does not, in this instance, stand
for bachelor of science. Instead, what remains after you have
forgotten everything you have learned in college is...a
moth-eaten letter sweater...your football season tickets...a
rooting interest in the NCAA basketball tournament...a trick
knee you wrecked at the rec center...a lifetime of writing
booster checks ... a police record from Sugar Bowl weekend, 1958
...your cheerleader wife...your quarterback husband...
photographs that will prevent you from ever seeking public
office (Nude Olympics, page 74).
Sports, not academics, provide the public face for a university.
As Bear Bryant said, "It's kind of hard to rally around a math
class." Writer Christopher Buckley notes in his book Wry
Martinis that Spanish dictator Francisco Franco died three days
before the Harvard-Yale game in 1975--and that, on the eve of
the game, three Yale students scrambled up onto a prominent
billboard near campus and painted the following:
When the youths descended from the sign, they were apprehended
by waiting New Haven policemen, one of whom asked (presumably
while fingering his nightstick): "O.K., which one of you guys is
The point is, there's a limited audience for intellectual
pursuits, but everybody knows football.
SO WHICH JOCK SCHOOL IS RIGHT FOR ME?
Thought you'd never ask. In the following pages we rate the
nation's top Jock Schools, using a mathematical formula slightly
more complicated than particle physics and not nearly as much
fun to read about.
Suffice it to say that we evaluated all 305 NCAA Division I
men's basketball schools on a variety of criteria: intramural
sports, the number of varsity teams, percentage of students who
participate in athletics of any kind, national championships
won, on-campus athletic facilities, athlete graduation rates,
Olympic and pro athlete alumni, sports-related curricula,
student-run sports media, rivalries, bands, cheerleaders, sports
bars, proximity to pro franchises, creative Hook 'em Horns-style
hand signals, etc. Each of these elements was assigned a point
value, those numbers were added, and that figure was then
divided by the square root of Beano Cook's hat size. Points were
deducted for any number of reasons: if a school's football team
fielded felons, for instance, or if its campus is located, in
whole or in part, in the state of New Jersey.
The result is the first irrefutable ranking of the best sports
schools in America--equal parts math, science and sociology. Not
that you can trust our math, science and sociology skills. We
all went to Jock Schools, where we studied to become
LETTERING BY MICHAEL CUSTODE