t was so great for women’s basketball in the state of Arkansas that the Razorbacks continued to avoid their Northeast colleague for nearly two decades. The dodging ends 7PM Friday night, when the two programs clash at First National Bank Stadium.

The SEC has scanned the landscape and decided that bigger is better; the more, the merrier. The SEC has all the money in the world, but all isn’t enough. Texas and Oklahoma lines the golden coffers with more gold. Size matters now, and if we’re going to survive, we need size.

The Sun Belt has emerged from 2020’s ooze like a Greek god from an enormous seashell. We have a CVS receipt of reasons to love the Sun Belt. Why screw up a good thing? Unless we’re talking about adding members (which would be ideal), there’s honestly little reason to leave a conference that with a ceiling g so high.

New Arkansas State head football coach Butch Jones isn’t in New Orleans to ghost write Shakespeare. He’s seen flanked by well-dressed muscle – TW Ayers and Andre Harris Jr. Jones’ walk-up music isn’t the AC/DC old-standard Chip Lindsey dials up; it’s the Arkansas State fight song. Nonsense does not a Butch Jones confidant.

Why do I care? Consider this: the Sun Belt plays the SEC far more than any Privileged Five conference. A normal human-being would glance at these numbers and assume that there is a jolly-good rivalry at play. After all, the Sun Belt has only played its natural peer rival, Conference USA, just 107 times.

Arkansas State has won six of its last eight, including two against Sun Belt West contender Georgia Southern behind masterful pitching performances that yielded all of two earned runs. Among the losses, an epic 12-15 defeat at Ole Miss, indicating that the Red Wolves bats are more than capable of producing mid-week runs against a ranked SEC opponent. Arkansas State has never been hotter in 2021, and it will need every degree of that heat in Fayetteville on Tuesday.

Life champion aside, Butch Jones is a legitimate football champion. He replaced Brian Kelly at both Central Michigan and Cincinnati, and he delivered two conference championships for both programs. He signed the No. 7 recruiting class in the nation in 2014 and the No. 4 recruiting class in the nation in 2015. Overall, Butch Jones is 84–54 (34-27 at Tennessee) with four bowl victories.