SEC Media Days 2012: Why I'm Cheering for John L. Smith

There was no man less likely to be the star of SEC Media Days than John L. Smith. The bizarre circumstances that brought Smith back to Fayetteville lost their novelty months ago, and with ten months on his contract and no seeming let-up in the expectations among the Arkansas fan base for the 2012 season, there are just as many reasons to think that Smith will not be back in Hoover next July than to think that he will.

Besides, Smith's predecessor was one of the most dreadfully boring coaches at SEC Media Days every year. It's hard to remember a single thing that Bobby Petrino said at any of his presentations, to the point where you almost wondered if beat writers would start trying to schedule a doctor's appointment on that day to avoid hearing Petrino speak.

Smith was a pleasant change in speed from Petrino. For that matter, Smith is more interesting and entertaining than mainstays like Mark Richt and Joker Phillips. Asked if he wanted to be the coach at Arkansas for more than a year, Smith shot back: "Well, certainly, do I look stupid?" before jokingly insisting that the beat writer not answer that question.

That came a few minutes after Smith cackled in response to a question about whether the last several months had been "surreal." The coach teased another reporter by marveling that the writer's newspaper still put up with the scribe. His arms flew around as he talked about -- well, almost anything. During a three-day event that largely featured monotone recitations of coachspeak for hours on end, Smith was earnest and refreshing.

So, aside from when the Razorbacks play South Carolina, there's a little part of me that will be pulling for John L. Smith to win each game he plays this year, if for no other reason than to keep him in the Media Days rotation for a few years. If we're going to sit through 14 of these things, at least one of them should be interesting.

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