Why A Goat Farmer Ranks Business Schools

Let’s start with the strangely private Ryan Caldwell, who also operates PopCrunch, a website featuring, for example, “Big Boobs!!! 29 Pairs of Perfect Famous Breasts” and “30 Celebs Who Have Amazing Melons!” On that site he dubs himself Ryan “Cowboy” Caldwell. His Facebook profile picture shows Johnny Depp. On College-Startup.com, Caldwell identifies his “partner in crime” as “Kitty Collier” – the brand name of a classically creepy collector’s doll. On Twitter, Caldwell uses a profile image of Russian heavyweight mixed martial arts fighter Fedor Emelianenko digitally altered into a cyborg.

Caldwell, according to his online postings, owns SeaWaves, which operates a number of rankings websites, including SuperScholar. State of New Jersey records show SeaWaves was registered there as a limited liability company in 2006. The business, currently still registered in New Jersey, expanded in 2011. State of Tennessee records show SeaWaves was registered as an LLC in Tennessee, in 2011, in Grundy County, former stompin’ grounds of one Davy Crockett.

Down at the bottom of Grundy County sits Tracy City, born as a coal town after the mineral was discovered when, according to the local chamber of commerce, “Ben Wooten’s sons were digging out a groundhog from beneath a stump.” According to Tennessee state records, SeaWaves’ Tennessee office is located in Tracy City at 475 10th Street, which Google Street View reveals to be little more than a tin-roofed shack.

WHAT, NO COWBOY?

Let’s return, for just a moment, to New Jersey. Here, or at least in a state database, we find SeaWaves’ principals named officially: Micah Sparacio and Joseph Prato. There’s no mention of Caldwell in any official documents connected to the company.

Prato is listed as a realtor on a website for Sea Winds of Sea Isle Realty Services on the Jersey Shore 30 miles south of Atlantic City. He and his wife had a bagel place for a time. An online obituary published this year after the death of Prato’s father reveals Prato is Sparacio’s uncle.

That brings us right back to Tracy City, Tennessee, population 1,475. Drag yourself away from The Gizzard bar and grill, home of the monthly “Corn Hole Tournament” (better not google that at work), head east on Main Street, hang a left on Lakes Road and follow it northeastward for a couple miles to Browns Hollow Road, turn left, and a few minutes down two-lane asphalt (watch out for that groundhog!) will bring you to a farmstead on your left, a two-story, 2 1/2 bedroom house on a flat, five-acre parcel near the edge of a forested creek valley. You’ve arrived at the Appalachian lair of Micah Sparacio: philosopher, poet, blogger, fitness trainer, goat farmer – a 21st Century Renaissance Man, and the e-huckster king of B-school bottom feeding.

Would you shop here for an MBA? SeaWaves Technology's Tennessee HQ - Google Street View

Would you shop here for an MBA? SeaWaves Technology’s Tennessee HQ – Google Street View

Sparacio, with Prato, runs some 10 higher-education rankings websites, many of them containing B-school content. Sparacio names himself as editor for some sites, and farms out some sites’ editing to freelancers.

CAREY, KELLEY NOT PLAYING THE GAME

If you’re hoping for logic, consistency, or accuracy among the rankings on these sites you’re in for disappointment.

On SuperScholar, we find Walden at No. 8 in the “Top 25 Online MBA Programs,” miles ahead of Arizona State University’s respected Carey School of Business at No. 16 and Indiana University’s vaunted Kelley School of Business at No. 17. Neither of the latter enjoy a link such as Walden’s to a page soliciting personal information for the school to use for contacting prospective students.

BestCollegeReviews has a section on methodology, saying “graduation rate and cost per credit account for 45% of the total rankings,” adding that instructor quality makes up the next-largest measurement, and it’s based on percentages of full-time faculty, and instructors’ experience teaching online. The rankings are derived from public data including information from the National Center for Education Statistics, the federal education department, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the U.S. Census Bureau, according to the site’s text.

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