SPENCER HALL: So the SEC West sucks now. Do we like this?
(This is based on one round of exhibition games coming after a season of overranking and is TOTALLY 100% ACCURATE.)
RYAN NANNI: We like this because history is no fun when kings live very long and successful lives and die peacefully in bed with many loving children and grandchildren beside them. You need someone to cut the king's throat in his sleep the day before his wedding. (Don't act for a second like Gary Patterson wouldn't do this just for fun.)
SH: Or hasn't done it already.
I like the SEC West now becoming the worst major conference in the world because it means things are different and different is really rare in college football. The same 15 teams or so dominate everything, the same places in the country pile the most money down the football-Sarlacc, and to see anything remotely different--even within the SEC--is entertaining. It's like watching people try to function without cellphones: terrifying and hilarious.
I don't think the compass points have changed, it's just that somebody threw the compass overboard, and now everyone gets to panic for a while.
RN: It creates a delightful scramble to reinterpret the past. What if the SEC West wasn't *ever* good? What if we were just being sold a bunch of bullshit by ESPN/CBS/Good Housekeeping? Maybe the SEC West was just a mediocre student who lucked into a spelling bee with the kids from Dumb County! I mean, consider: the Pac-12 had to deal with a bludgeoned USC. The Big Ten had Ohio State in a similarly NCAA-albatrossed position. The Big 12 got chopped into pieces by conference realignment. And the ACC was busy suing Maryland. Do you know how exhausting it is to sue Maryland? They show up for depositions an hour late and smelling like a Captain D's bathroom.
SH: That's worse than a Long John Silver's bathroom, and I have no reason to say why I believe this so firmly. Maybe the SEC West also got a peach of a run through weak out-of-conference competition in big games. Take 2012's bowl season, for example. Ole Miss got lined up against Pitt, Texas A&M with Manziel got to demolish Oklahoma, and Alabama got the lucky draw of Super-Pitt, aka Notre Dame. LSU lost by a hair against Clemson, and in retrospect that was probably way more representative of where the SEC West stood at the time. Remember that this got so bad at one point that the West got to play itself for a national title. That's "doctors doing each other's heart surgery" kind of incest right there.
I also like it because it means Arkansas can be good again, and a strong Arkansas doesn't mean shit for college football save one thing: the importance and power of a nationally significant Bret Bielema.
P.S. Arkansas rising towards the top of the SEC West is the canary in the coal mine for the division's futures; every time they've been good, the West has gone narcoleptic. They are the Waffle House at 3 AM indicator; if they're the best thing available, you are up too late and need to go home immediately.
RN: If you're an SEC West fan bristling at our support for your division's demise, take comfort in knowing that an enormous weight has been lifted from you. Remember how stressful it was to carry the banner for the entire conference for so long. Those kind of expectations leave you with only two outcomes: you meet them and no one is impressed, or you fail and the world points and laughs. No more! Now is the time for the SEC East, undefeated this postseason*, to ease your burden.
*Bowl games mean nothing and there is likely no afterlife.
SH: It's also a warning. How far do you want to take this conference loyalty tic? How far do you want to subdivide? Big Ten fans have always had a more sensible approach to this. They hate everyone, including their own team, themselves, and perhaps life itself. They're skeptics, just like you'd be if you'd ever pinned your hopes on something involving Purdue. "Purdue: the Antidote to Hope" is free, by the way. It can go on a t-shirt whenever you're ready, Boilermakers.
RN: Here's the final reason I like Death Comes to the SEC West: we all just told Nick Saban, Gus Malzahn, Bret Bielema, Kevin Sumlin, Hugh Freeze, Les Miles, and Dan Mullen that they're washed up. We have intentionally pissed off a bunch of talent-rich obsessives who are, on the whole, not "great with people." They are going to want so, so, so, so, so, so much blood as recompense.
SH: Gus Malzahn hired Will Muschamp after this season. Someone broke into his house and he bought a bear off the
black market because DOGS WON'T BE ENOUGH. And the person I'm ruling out first is Les Miles, the surest indicator that LSU will win 11 games and win the division next year. He's the one who in the face of an avalanche doesn't move, and ends up with the whole thing parting around him.
RN: Les Miles: The House Party Moses.
SH: I also like how this sets up for one school to crack, panic prematurely, and fire someone very talented who will go elsewhere and be very successful. [/eyes Ole Miss]
RN: Said school then hires P.J. Fleck and we get to see what a two million dollar cybernetic minotaur that shouts inspirational phrases looks like. ROW ROW ROBOTAUR.
SH: Alternatively, Arkansas implodes without warning, something that has only happened three or four times in the last 25 years because the Razorbacks are the seven year locusts of the SEC. When Houston Nutt molts, make sure he does it in the yard.