When things get so good, it's hard to imagine them turning bad. Nobody has any reason to be the least bit disappointed with the job Bobby Petrino has done with the Arkansas Razorbacks. I have total faith in his commitment to success, as well as his ability to succeed. Arkansas fans want a coach who can bring home a national championship, and I can't imagine a better man for the job. Still, I have my reservations about the document that shall henceforth be known as The Agreement.
Some of what The Agreement entails:
A lot of glowing praise and self-satisfied back-patting (all of it earned).
A near million dollar pay raise through 2017 (with loads of ambitious incentives).
A non-compete provision that ropes off the entire SEC (likely a response to the now-closed Florida opening and a potential opening down the line at Georgia).
A reverse-telescoping mutual buyout that tests the capacity of the term "excessive" (beginning around $18 million and slowly contracting to a paltry four million in 2017).
Bobby Petrino's signature (a gesture given undue importance throughout this process).
From what I gather, the excessive buyout was initially Petrino's idea, which means he's allowed himself to be bullied — not by administrators, but by the most hysterical members of the media. (You know the ones. Those who apply the internet troll mentality to their entire careers. Those who don't mind casting bile-filled aspersions at any target unlucky enough to stray into their sites. Those disgruntled, self-important hacks who feel themselves worthy of more deference from an uppity coach from the Big East.)
If you believe that Petrino's extension calls for a buyout provision this flamboyant, then you must buy the wandering-eye narrative. You must think the criticisms of Petrino are valid. You must be pretty sure Arkansas couldn't do without him. You must be part of the problem.
If Arkansas can't rein in its own anxieties about Petrino's commitment without a pair of handcuffs, then our problems run deeper than the signature at the bottom of a contract. Needling jealousies destroy relationships, and they can't often be quieted by grand gestures. Instead, they fester into resentment, erupt into other parts of our lives or limit us in daily ways. In short, deals like this are set up to bite us in the ass.
It isn't a Faustian bargain. There's no devil on either side of this deal. Contrary to the persisting mythology, that's not how the devil operates. The devil lurks in the wings, waiting for two men — Bobby Petrino and Jeff Long, for instance — who respect and trust each other to get comfortable, ready to dash into the stage and set the scenery ablaze.
The devil waits for hubris, those best-laid plans, before turning those plans against their planners. For everyone's sake, let's hope he remains preoccupied for the next seven years.
And now some bullets:
• Cam Newton won the Heisman because he's the best player in the country and deserves all the hardware that comes with that distinction. Folks who focused on the unseemly details of his recruitment are missing the point. The problem doesn't begin when elite athletes get something in return for their services. It begins when they get nothing in return for their services.
• I like Florida's hire, but Gator fans better hope Will Muschamp finds himself a decent OC. Major Applewhite? More like Minor Applewhite [rimshot]. Nobody remind him how Dana Holgorsen's offense lit him up this year, mmkay?
• Urban Meyer will replace Brian Kelly at Notre Dame in 5-10 years. Maybe sooner. Just wanted to get that into print.
• Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, Gus Malzahn turns out to be more circumspect than the national media.
• The Big Ten has got to be kidding with their "Legends" and "Leaders" divisions. Are they playing football or World of Warcraft up there?
• Speaking of entitlement: Terrelle Pryor claims that "he'd dominate" in an offense like Michigan's or Auburn's. They grow 'em up pretty full of themselves in Ohio, huh? Somehow, doesn't sound like his head's in the right place going into the Sugar Bowl.
Follow Derek Jenkins throughout the week and during games on Twitter @aboynamedsooie.