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Just for fun: New online game pits your college's 'influence' against others


The University of Minnesota is like the Harvard of the Midwest, right?

Not really, if you compare the two schools based on its most famous alumni. By that measure, with the likes of former Vice President Al Gore and basketball star Jeremy Lin, Harvard is more than 5 times more "influential" than the U of M, with Bob Dylan and Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Who figured that? Time magazine has had a little fun creating a new online Influence-Off tool that allows users to directly compare any two universities in the nation based on which school has the most "influential" living alumni.

And how did Time measure how "influential"? Wikipedia, of course.

The magazine looked at the 107,408 living people whose Wikipedia profiles list at least one alma mater in the United States and scored each based on the length and breadth of the celebrity's Wikipedia page. The magazine then added up each school's alumni scores to get its overall influence factor.

For example, compare the University of Florida and renowned research institution Johns Hopkins. Florida is 2.76 times more influential.

Wait, what? Sure, Johns Hopkins was named the 15th most influential school in the world by the respected Best College Reviews – and Florida didn't even make that list. But Florida takes the honor here thanks to sports star alumni like Tim Tebow and recently arrested NFL star Aaron Hernandez, Time says.

So, OK, this isn't the most scientific tool for comparing universities. But c'mon, it's fun – and addictive. Try it out here.

You'll note:

The University of Minnesota is 1.50 times more influential than Johns Hopkins – go Gophers! But the University of Florida is 1.84 times more influential than the U of M. Stupid Gators.

Here's how the University of Minnesota stacks up against Midwest rivals:

– The Badgers win this round – the University of Wisconsin-Madison is 1.26 times more influential than the U of M. Wisconsin has numerous notable political alums, including former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, and some NHLers in Dany Heatley and Chris Chelios.

– The U of M is 7.29 times more influential than the University of North Dakota and 59.80 times more influential than North Dakota State University. WDAY credits the U of M's prominence to Bob Dylan, who has a lengthy Wikipedia page.

– The U of M is 14.41 times more influential than the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Duluth's hockey stars, like Brett Hull, just couldn't match up.

– The U of M is 1.74 times more influential than the University of Iowa and 4.43 times more influential than Iowa State University.

How does the U of M size up nationally?

– UCLA is just 2.75 times more influential than the U of M – UCLA has notable alumni that include actor James Franco and basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

– With alums like Tiger Woods and Mitt Romney, Stanford is 2.59 times more influential than the U of M.

– Entertainer Madonna and swimmer Michael Phelps pushed the University of Michigan over the U of M – Michigan is 2.98 times more influential than the Gophers.

– And the University of Texas-Austin is 1.48 times more influential than the U of M, thanks to pitcher Roger Clemens, quarterback Vince Young and former White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove.

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