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Pac-12 is smarter than your conference

M. David Rudd is dean of the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences at Utah, and he is a Pac-12 fan. I know this because he wrote an editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune touting the benefits of his university joining the conference.

And it has little to do with football.

He begins:

The recently released MediaBuzz 2012 university rankings reveal the sometimes hard to believe, but very real connection between athletic affiliation, national exposure and academic reputation. They also provide a glimpse of the potential positive impact of joining the Pac-12 for the University of Utah.

MediaBuzz ranks colleges and universities by "Internet brand equity," one metric of Internet exposure and perceived quality. As might be expected, Ivy League schools dominated the top 20 spots, with six of the eight schools ranked, followed by the Pac-12 with four schools and the Big 10 with three.

You can check out those ranking here. The Pac-12 has four schools in the top 14, which is no surprise. The order might be for some of you.

7. UCLA

8. Stanford

11. Washington

14. California

My guess is some Stanford and Cal fans will have some issues here, perhaps even as a united front! And, UCLA fans... you're welcome.

By the way, Richmond, a school that has produced some of the most awesome people ever, topped the list for colleges.

More from Rudd:

Two other athletic conferences have similarly strong academic brands — the Big 10 and the Pac-12 — with each having five universities ranked in the top 50 by [US News & World Report] and the Big 10 having 10 schools in the top 100 worldwide, and the Pac-12 eight (according to the "Academic Rankings of World Universities"), with the University of Utah one of the schools ranked in the top 100 worldwide. Not surprisingly, the MediaBuzz rankings mimic these subjective academic-quality rankings.

The connections between athletic affiliation and academic reputation don’t stop there. There are other, more objective measures. These three conferences have the largest average research budgets nationally, exceeding the nearest competitor by a considerable margin. Naturally, the Ivy League led the way. But according to 2010 numbers, the Big 10 average was over $570 million, the Pac-12 over $450 million, with the next closest competitor being the ACC at $320 million.

A review of student selectivity data (i.e. admission rate) paints a similar picture, as do figures on the number of doctoral degrees granted annually, both important variables in determining academic quality. You can consider scientific impact, with national rankings of the most-cited institutions including four Pac-12 schools in the top 10, exceeding the Ivy League, which had two. You can add in average private fundraising and average faculty salaries, with the trends being consistent.

Rudd also notes that Pac-12 affiliation is already bolstering Utah's standing, noting that applications are up 27 percent over the past two years.

So, Pac-12 fans, take a moment and celebrate your big brains.

Now back to your bickering.