University of Minnesota: We're number 68! We're number 68!

U of M: The M stands for "mediocre."

U of M: The M stands for "mediocre."

The University of Minnesota really is one of the best schools in the country... if you get far enough down the list. The U came in No. 68 on the U.S. News and World Report's influential college rankings list, which was released yesterday.

Coming in 68th in anything is hardly impressive, but it's even worse than it sounds. Minnesota's not just behind the expensive little private schools: By these rankings, it's sixth-best in the Big Ten, behind similarly gigantic public schools like the University of Michigan and Ohio State University.

The oft-criticized rankings list is, as you'd expect, pretty big on the traditional "great colleges," and this year the top of the list is covered in more Ivy than the outfield wall at Wrigley Field. For example, Harvard and Princeton are so equally wonderful that they're tied for first place.


As baseball fans know, tie goes to the runner... but no one at Harvard or Princeton is going to be doing much running, what with the asthma, so the tie stands for now. Yale and Columbia come in third and fourth, respectively.

Finally, the list gets out of the Ivy League for a five-way tie at No. 5, where MIT,  Cal-Tech, Stanford, the University of Chicago, and Penn -- dammit, now we're back in the Ivy League again! -- are all rated evenly. Duke, the Harvard of the South, comes in next to round out the top 10.

New U president Eric Kaler has 67 spots to make up.

New U president Eric Kaler has 67 spots to make up.

For Minnesota, the Michigan of the west-central-upper-Midwest, U.S. News bestowed the prestigious No. 68 ranking after surveying 16 different factors, which are then weighted by a top-secret formula, that make up each school's rating. The most controversial factor has always been the "peer assessment," in which school administrators judge other schools purely by reputation.

Because the rankings generate so much backlash, U.S. News has printed what's essentially a short book explaining its methodology.

But if we learned anything in college, it's this: Screw the methodology!--Who did you say is prettier than me?

Among Minnesota's Big Ten competitors, Michigan comes in tops, at No. 28. Then you still need to scroll past Wisconsin (ranked No. 45), Illinois (also 45), Ohio State (55), and Purdue (62) before you finally get to our lovable local college.

In its assessment of the U, U.S. News points out this interesting factoid:

"The University of Minnesota is the only school in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference that is located in a major city--or two, to be exact."

Yeesh. It's a ranking of schools by academic standards, and the first thing U.S. News has to mention is sports and location. Hey, out-of-state kids, doesn't that make you want to rush in and throw down $18,000?

Welcome to the job, new University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler.