Sometimes UF President Bernie Machen does things the student body and young alumni don't like. He seems detached from the problems of students, he wants to bring back alcohol laws from the 1920's, and he has cut some of UF's oldest programs (Liberal Arts, IFAS) deeper than research ones (Medicine, Engineering).
But the man is hellbent on making UF a top-10 school. In addition to hiring Urban Meyer and being at the helm of the Golden Age of The Florida Gators, Machen knows the importance of a strong athletic program. While most intellectuals would discount sports, Machen knows the self-sustaining UAA is a cash cow, that pulls in support for UF academics as well.
He's also a huge Gator homer.
From the Gainesville Sun (HT: J-Fenn), Machen's US News and World Report ballot of colleges and universities reveals just how far this homerism goes. Machen called UF "Distinguished" (the highest ranking, given 5 points under the US News formula), along with several Ivies, Cal and Michigan. The next best, "Strong," included Penn and Duke. In third place, "Good," was Georgetown, FSU and Miami. Getting only two points was USF and UCF, which Machen lumped into the "Adequate" group.
First of all, while I love UF, we are not better than Duke or Georgetown or as good as Harvard and Yale. Those are elite private universities which have not been choked out by their State Governor, like UF has. It is impossible for UF to be that good until the State of Florida makes a serious commitment to education in all economic climates.
Secondly, FSU sucks way worse than Miami and USF. FSU's medical school is about a decade old. Miami and USF have had med schools for decades. Miami is famous for their spine research, USF for cancer care, FSU for convincing ABC to run 'Seminole Firewater' on live TV. If I was a Miami fan, I'd be pissed someone thought UM was as good as FSU, academically. I will give you that medical programs do not guarantee a good school, but can you name me a good medical program at a crappy school? Plus, medical programs bring in the big bucks, which is why UF and USF are treading water as FSU sinks under the weight of State budget cuts.
I love that Machen thinks we're that good, and I hope when my kids attend UF (and they will), getting in will be harder than when I attended. It will be a long way to go to the top. But it's a lot shorter trip than it will be for FSU, Miami or USF.