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Pac-12 Power Rankings: Conference Of Nerds

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Oregon State isn't going to win much this year, but they'll always have these power rankings. <a href=""></a>
Oregon State isn't going to win much this year, but they'll always have these power rankings.

The Pac-12 likes to boast about its academic credentials, and it really stacks up when we look at some of the smartest minds in the conference.

Our power rankings this week are based on some of the smartest guys in the classrooms of the West. Who's the valedictorian here?

1. Oregon St. Beavers - Linus Pauling

Yeah, you weren't expecting that, right? But it would make sense that those fighting Beavers would upset everyone else in a battle for nerddom.

It wasn't close -- no one else can lay claim to two Nobel Prizes. The rest of the conference can only fight for the scraps of being second best.

Big bonus to Seaborg for making the rookie mistake of spending all his freshman money on a girl. He's just like us!

2. California Golden Bears - Glenn T. Seaborg

Tough one to choose from. To ensure a nerd-fight in the comments, let's use sports to break the tie between all the smarties. I'm going  with Seaborg, since he was Chancellor when the Bears were in the Rose Bowl last Cold War or so, and he apparently didn't want to gut athletics like the next hundred ADs that followed him.

3. Stanford Cardinal - Fazle Hussain

Hussain has no Nobel Prizes, but it's probably because no one in Sweden can figure out themselves the properties of fluid dynamics and turbulence. These disciplinary fields are practically the West Coast offense of physics, and he deserves his props.

4. UCLA Bruins - Richard Heck

Yes, he has a Nobel Prize, and yes it's easy to understand why he earned it.

Heck's work set the stage for a variety of other palladium-catalyzed coupling reactions, including those of aryl halides with derivatives of boronic acid (Suzuki–Miyaura coupling), organotin reagents (Stille coupling), organomagnesium compounds (Kumada-Corriu coupling), silanes (Hiyama coupling), and organozincs (Negishi coupling), as well as with amines (Buchwald–Hartwig amination) and alcohols. These palladium-catalyzed coupling reactions are now widely practiced in organic synthesis, including in the chemical engineering production of certain organic compounds in factories.

Couldn't have said it any better. Makes you almost feel like you're in his laboratory, sharing in the experience with him. If only Rick Nehueisel could use that language to communicate with his players.

5. Washington Huskies - George Stigler

When Stigler was detailing the influence interest groups would have in shaping the poltiical landscape, he probably didn't realize he was simultaneously writing a prophetic parable about the state of big conference football. Larry Scott would be best served adding Economic Theory of Regulation to his library checkout list, then never return it and pay undue fees, because this should be his bible for managing the Pac-12.

6. Colorado Buffaloes - Herbert Kroemer

Yet another Nobel Prize winner. He worked with lasers. LASERS!

7. Utah Utes - Alan Kay

Without this man, you would probably not be reading this, I would never have written this, and we'd probably talking to each other right now at our local watering hole about how wrong this list is. This man saved me from getting punched in the face.

8. Washington St. Cougars - Jacob Bigeleisen

Did someone say isotope chemistry? Bigeleisen was the founder of this intriguing new scientific discipline, which described how different types of Cougars from all over the country can come to interact and form a working relationship with living in Pullman all year. This is probably factually erroneous.

9. Arizona Wildcats - Andreas Gerasimos Michalitsianos

A true spaceman. He helped construct the International Ultraviolet Explorer and the Hubble Space Telescope, presumably so he could do his best to look as far away as he could from Tucson, Arizona as humanly possible.

10.  USC Trojans - George V. Chilingar

Hey, want someone to get mad at over foreign entanglements? Chilingar got a medal from Saudi Arabia for helping make him filthy rich. No word yet on whether they gave the mullahs free SUVs to joyride with on their Los Angeles vacations.

11. Oregon Ducks - Douglas Hofstadter

He wrote the seminal book for smart people. So he knows how to relate to smart people. If M.C. Escher would design an Oregon uniform., would it be duck feathers that also could look like a pack of green sharks that could also look like a never-ending staircase? 

12. Arizona St. Sun Devils - Paul Spudis

He's a big fan of moonbases, most likely to figure out how to end of the war between Autobots and Decepticons.

For those thinking I'm being too harsh on ASU, Spudis is probably the only real academic on this list of famous alumni. There are more pornographic actresses on this list than academics. ASU was what we thought it was.

Last week's power rankings: Movie settings

Preseason power rankings: Firefly characters