The announcement this week that they were transferring from Liverpool university lured by a plusher deal at the private Buckingham university didn't come as a bolt from the blue: the peripatetic pair sailed out of Manchester university together in 1996 for Brunel and, two years later, left Brunel for Liverpool, again as a two-for-one deal.
It seems, however, Merseysiders are taking their loss unusually badly. An editorial in the Liverpool Daily Post on Monday moaned: "the departure of Professor Alan Smithers and his whole team from the University of Liverpool to that of Buckingham sounds as momentous as the departure of Steven Gerrard may be from Liverpool Football Club."
Two further columns of teeth gnashing compared Smithers' exit to the England and Liverpool midfielder's rumoured multi-million pound move to Chelsea.
The professor said: "I was surprised and flattered by the comparison but I thought they were a bit over the top. People have been saying I should stay by my phone, just in case Sven has a problem with the diamond formation."