"Wow, I'm really looking forward to more conference realignment," said no one as you pushed them into a trash compactor and pressed the COMPACT button. This may be fictional, as you may know someone who enjoys conference realignment stories. This could happen, and if it does, you should push this real person into a trash compactor immediately.
Why should you help the world by ridding them of a conference realignment enthusiast? Because though there is a certain amount of respectable interest in how college football teams will shake out, a sporting gentleperson does not become too enthralled with palace matters. They remark on the matters of business, learn the names of their new conference mates, and move along after sending flowers, libations, and greetings to their new conference mates.*
(*Note: if you are SEC members, "libations and greetings" are not to be delivered in front of your pastor. If you are in the Big 12, give them the customary gifts of your people: beef, agricultural feed, and a basket of easily completed passes in weak coverage.)
You can only expel so much bile in the direction of what Jim Delany, Mike Slive, Larry Scott, and DeLoss Dodds are going to let ESPN do to the sport, and what John Swofford and the poor soul in charge of the Big East are going to watch them do. Within reason, you can complain, but at one point you will switch from "concerned critic" to "old man yelling at cloud." I'm not sure where this line is, but if you yearn for the days of 15 bowl games and a poll to decide it all for Notre Dame, Alabama, or USC, then chances are you're already well across it.
For sanity's sake, focus on what you will get to so see.
For instance, you'll get to see John L. Smith coaching football. Perhaps you have forgotten how enjoyable this really is, so we'll refresh your memory. The easy ones are, well, easy: slapping himself in a press conference after being outcoached by Charlie Weis, the halftime interview from hell, sometimes baffling in-game decisions like attempting to run out the clock with 175-pound running backs when his 225-pound power back is eating cheeseburgers on the bench. (Jehuu Caulcrick, you are not forgotten.)
Yet we haven't remembered half of why you will want to watch every single game Arkansas plays in 2012. He'll make decisions, sir. Decisions like putting Drew Stanton at gunner on punt return. Drew Stanton was a precious, talented, and fragile quarterback. Drew Stanton then tore his ACL on the play. Tyler Wilson, if you don't get enough contact playing the part of the headless goat carcass in the SEC West's neverending game of quarterback buzkashi, Smith may be happy to let you get some more.
John L. Smithness doesn't end there. He came to Arkansas from Weber State only a few months after taking the job at his alma mater, and then threw the school overboard before coaching a single game there. He wears cowboy boots with his suits, runs with the bulls in Pamplona for fun, and had to tell his players at Louisville of his departure for the Michigan State job when the news leaked during a game. He once coached his 2006 Michigan State team to a 38-point comeback against Northwestern, and then lost to Indiana the next week.
John L. Smith clearly contains multitudes, and all of them are insane homeless men pushing grocery carts full of scrap metal slowly up the street, ranting loudly about how the library Internet gave them tuberculosis of the brain.
We haven't even mentioned this: Smith is living out a senior citizen's version of Crank, contractually speaking. His contract to coach the Razorbacks is a 10-month contract. This means you now know four kinds of workers kept on contracts measured in months: oil derrick workers, MMA fighters, NBA developmental players from obscure former Soviet republics, and John L. Smith.
A John L. Smith under pressure is its own sales pitch, and we have not even begun to properly contextualize where that John L. Smith is going to be working. Smith will not be coaching just any team: he'll be coaching the best offensive squad Arkansas has assembled this century, and perhaps in the history of its football program. Naturally, he will have next to no defense to back up the Razorbacks' scoring output, and John L. Smith will enter battle the only way he really ever should: armed with a fearsome flamethrower, and wearing a suit made of gunpowder licorice.
He will then take this daring fashion combo into the SEC West, the division where four of the last six national champions live. The potential combinations of triumph and fiasco are nearly infinite, but please, mark this one in flaming letters on your calendar: Nov. 23, 2012.
This marks the first and perhaps only time you will be able to see John L. Smith coach a game on the same field with Les Miles in the SEC. It will be the next chapter in one of the more entertaining rivalries in the modern SEC West, sure. There may also be championship bids, both regional and national, on the line, as well as potentially jobs. (Just assume that late in the season in the SEC, at least one coach's job is on the line. It saves some mental effort later.)
Those factors are not setting off the calliope music in your head right, though. What's doing that is the almost certain madness unfurling between the sidelines when two chaos-lords at the peak of their powers. Envision the splendor: Smith, gesturing madly as his field goal team runs out for a fake punt at the half when his team is down two points; Miles, smiling confidently as Zach Mettenberger throws the world's first double flea-flicker into the farting bellows of a sousaphone player on the sidelines.
"Just like we drew it up," he'll say, clapping his hands with fingers flexed out as far as he can get them.
It will be the equivalent of a coaching solar eclipse in terms of fake punts, Dada clock management, fluky plays, and incomprehensible postgame press conferences. Someone might go for threeve in this game. EDIT: Someone will go for threeve, and then fumble, and then have the fumble returned and free kicked on the run through the goal posts as time expires for a win of TOMATO to 23.
This seems impossible by normal rules of reality, you say. My retort: you say this a game in the SEC West. One member of the conference employs Les Miles. Another hired their coach based largely off one successful year in the Sun Belt and his appearance in a Sandra Bullock movie. Two other teams in the division are embroiled in a rivalry intense enough to generate tree-poisoning, and still another may have tried to get a Heisman Trophy winner declared ineligible for receiving payments from boosters.
We can keep going, but you get the point. If any of this seems strange to you after looking at the neighborhood of the SEC West, your definitions do not need realignment. Your understanding of reality, however, does.
While we’re here, let’s watch some college football videos from SB Nation’s new YouTube channel together: