What he pointed out was being near a (sizeable) college makes for interesting music and counterculture. For some reason that hadn't clicked before. Someone else pointed out the merits of the South Side.
So, I think the short list works out to, clockwise starting here and working from the north,
1) South Side. Parking may be an issue. Nearby bike trail. Where to swim?
2) State College. Again, swimming? Radio is ok, but would there be interesting music? And is there enough interesting food?
3) Harrisburg. Swimming works. Where to bike? And is there any sort of that college culture? Scenery's nice...
4) Morgantown. Unsure. Merits investigation.
5) Columbus. Nearest swimming of merit at Alum Creek Dam. Otherwise seems like a good fit.
6) Cleveland. Tons of biking. Unsure of swimming. Unsure how the colleges integrate with city life but it's probably good.