Can you hear them?
Sometimes, see, when I have a little bit of the writer's block, because a bye week just happened and there's very little going on and I got nothing really (and let's be honest, this is the toughest thing about writing a blog and has been for five years), I look back a year ago at this time and see what I wrote about back then. Sometimes two or three years. It's a great way to get ideas. OK, it's recycling ideas, but if I do it right nobody notices.
So that's what I did this evening. It turns out that the last two years of mid-September, mid-week writings have been the Realignment Channel. That's mainly because last year around this time, Notre Dame was brought into the ACC fold, and two years ago this week, it was Pitt and Syracuse. Two years ago! Syracuse has still not yet played an ACC football game, and won't for another two-plus weeks. What the hell were you doing two years ago? Got a new kid? Different job? New house? Last week, I started my new, actual, permanent job, at which I interned last summer (that would be over a year ago) as a sort of extended job interview; when Pitt and Syracuse announced they'd be ACC-ites, I hadn't even interviewed for that internship yet. Scratch that: I don't think I'd even applied yet. I think at that point I had signed up for the information-slash-recruiting session. Signed up, and not yet attended. Two years ago is a long-ass time.
That was the smack-ass middle of realignment, of course. Or really, it was the rising crest of the wave, which you will of course be telling your grandkids about. ("Son, I remember when conferences only had eight teams in them.") Division I has 33 conferences (post-schism in the Big East/AAC), 29 of which were affected by realignment. Only the Ivy, MEAC, SWAC, and MAC didn't gain or lose membership from elsewhere; the first three because they have some pretty stringent membership requirements and the last because who knows? (Well, it's because nobody wanted to add semi-obscure Midwestern schools and nobody saw a conference of semi-obscure Midwestern schools as a dream destination. But the MAC did have a small peripheral football effect, gaining UMass and losing Temple as football-only members.) WAC football was destroyed, as was the CCHA, the Great West Conference, the ECAC lacrosse league, and the Pacific Coast Softball Conference.
Somewhere, of course, Jim Delany is surveying the carnage with a cigar and a satisfied expression.
At any rate, that has all happened, and while I don't think it's safe to say that there's nothing left to find out in this arena, nobody's talking about it. Oh, sure, there's still change afoot; Big Tenians still have a 14-team "conference" to look forward to, and the ACC's couch-burning quotient will drop to nearly zero. But college football news is finally all about what college football news should be about. Important stuff like:
-- Will anyone beat Alabama this year?
-- Who has the latest awesome uniformzz? (But even that is slowly dying down, I sense; not that teams aren't still having an informal contest to see who can look the stupidest, but these things are getting less hype than they used to.)
-- How douchey is the country's latest celebrity quarterback, on a scale from Tim Tebow (you'll hate him, if he would ever do anything remotely douchey) to Terrelle Pryor (shows up in an obviously ill-gotten car to a team meeting that will lay out some of the repercussions from the major scandal that he got them into in the first place)? And can the NCAA find proof of said celebrity quarterback's breach of amateur status?
-- Should we hype a quarterback or a running back for Heisman this year? Or is this a year we talk about why does no other position ever win it and find a weird-position representative to hype until November?
-- Which coach is gonna do something really stupid this year? (Or did something really stupid two years ago that we can dig up?)
-- And most importantly, now that the BCS is on its final hurrah, what cause should smarmy, high-horse media zealots like Dan Wetzel take up in lieu of trying to kill the system that smarmy, high-horse media zealots demanded 15 years ago in order to fix the unfathomable evils of split national championships? The smart money is on amateurism and Why Do Poor Football Players Have To Drive A 1997 Honda Civic While Their Filthy Rich Coaches Tool Around In BMWs? or something to that effect.
In other words, everything is back to normal, just like it was in much simpler times, like 2008. It's a lot more enjoyable than wondering whether Texas will decide to become an East Coast or West Coast school.