Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Football aside, which university is the best?

A non-sports argument erupted yesterday on "Mike & Mike in the Morning" on ESPN2.

Mike Greenberg, a graduate of the Northwestern University Journalism School, saw the match-up between Northwestern and Missouri Dec. 29 in the Alamo Bowl and dubbed it the Journalism Bowl, a battle between schools with the best two J-Schools in the U.S.

He received all sorts of e-mails in response. One really cracked him up -- me too. It came from a guy who worked at NBC 17. It read: "With all do (sic) respect... you forgot the Gators and its great Journalism School." That last part is not verbatim, but the first line is. Here's a guy arguing for the superiority of his university training and he doesn't check his spelling. It's possible he made a mistake. More likely he didn't know the correct word.

Can we forgive him because he's a TV guy?

Mike didn't. He and Mike Golic banned the perpetrator from the show for life but later changed their minds, banning him though the Gators-Sooners national championship match-up. Along the way, Greenberg wondered about the national rankings for Journalism Schools, saying he'd look it up later.

I looked it up and and found that most people in the know consider Northwestern, Missouri and Columbia the three top J-Schools in the country. After that, it depends on who you talk to. University of Florida is on some lists (with all do respect). Syracuse, USC, Texas, Arizona State, Ohio State, and UC-Berkeley all appear regularly. Columbia will not be in a BCS game anytime soon. So Greenberg may be right about the Alamo Bowl. Oklahoma-Florida may be the BCS championship game, but it will not decide the fate of journalism in the 21st century.

I bring this up because I was an English major at UF and came within a couple credits of minoring in journalism. During my final two semesters (1976), I worked as a reporter for the Independent Florida Alligator, which is one of the best college newspapers in the U.S. (you can look it up). I also worked for UF Information Services, writing press releases and taking photos of jocks for game-day football programs.

I wonder how the UF English Dept. stacks up against Oklahoma's? How do you compare the two? Number of graduates? Graduates who went on to be famous? How many of them know the proper spelling of "due" as in "with all due respect?" What about college creative writing programs, especially the graduate M.F.A. programs? Iowa gets the nod there. The Hawkeyes play South Carolina in the Outback Bowl On New Year's Day. Wonder how many poets play linebacker for Iowa? Wonder how those corn-fed Iowa novelists would match up against the Gamecocks' brooding Southern memoirists?

Other M.F.A. writing programs of note are Stanford, which breeds some pretty good football players; Syracuse (ditto); Brown, where lacrosse is preferred over football; Arizona and Arizona State, both having off-years on the gridiron; Texas (got screwed by the BCS computer); Columbia, which hasn't fielded a real football team since Kerouac's era; and Florida State, which boasts scores of great creative writing faculty but still can't find a way to beat the Gators on the football field. FSU plays Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 27. Pound for pound, I think the gritty short-story writers from FSU can lick the post-modernist weenies from Madison. Wanna bet?

1 comment:

mpage225 said...


My theory is that the "UF Grad" is an F$U imposter.

As for Journalism schools, Missouri is very good. As for English programs, UF is as good as it gets, and you are exhibit #1.

With all due respect, we never cheer for F$U, ever. When they play Miami, we hope they both lose.

On Wisconsin!

English Major, UF 1976