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Expectations are back in the ’Boro

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POSTED: April 20, 2011 9:48 a.m.

Editor’s note: This is a column by Statesboro Herald sports editor Matt Yogus. It contains opinion.

 

Now that the spring game is behind us and camp has wrapped until fall, let’s address a little something called expectations.

At Georgia Southern, the football team is expected to win.

The fans know it. The players know it. And you can bet your jug of Eagle Creek water that head coach Jeff Monken knows it, probably better than anybody else.

And when you’re a Georgia Southern team that won 10 games and got all the way to the semifinals in the first year under a new system and a new coaching staff and you return just about everybody the following year — yikes. The expectations-o-meter probably is reaching uncharted territory.

Now would be a good time to offer my philosophy on "reasonable" expectations.

I’ve always been a firm believer, and this goes for every sport, that a championship is not — repeat, not — a reasonable expectation. I’m under the opinion (or as I call it, "undisputable fact") that good teams make the playoffs, great teams win playoff games and great, lucky teams win championships.

Too many things have to go right in succession when you make a run to a championship in a playoff system. Winning a game is a lot different and a lot easier than winning a tournament. In other words, the "best" team doesn’t always win the championship, but a championship team always does. If that makes any sense.

Look at the Patriots after the 2008 Super Bowl.

They’d agree.

Some of you probably agree, too.

Some of you probably kind of agree, although you don’t know it. And some of you probably think everything I just said is "loser talk."

Nonetheless, that’s where I stand, right or wrong.

With that said, it is absolutely, without a doubt, a reasonable expectation at Georgia Southern to make the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs — every year.

Missing the playoffs always will fall short of expectations.

That’s just the way it is. When you compare fan bases, history, facilities and talent with the rest of the FCS world, the Georgia Southern Eagles should be involved in any conversation involving the playoffs. They’ll almost certainly be ranked in the preseason Top 10 and even could find themselves in the Top 3 before the 2011 season kicks off.

They’ll have, when you really break it down, one loss to play with. The Alabama game won’t count for anything in the eyes of the NCAA committee (unless, of course, they win), and the home opener against Tusculum won’t count toward the benchmark of seven Division I wins that the committee holds so dearly.

If the Eagles go, say, 6-2 in SoCon play and win the first two non-conference games, they’ll be 8-2 and heading into the Alabama game facing a "must-win" situation.

So there are nine games on the schedule that the committee will look at, and, if you’re GSU, short of a Southern Conference title, an 8-3 record with seven D-I wins really is the only way to guarantee a bid to the playoffs. Outside the FBS game and the Division II game, the Eagles will need to go 8-1.

What does it all mean, as far as expectations go?

If you’re expecting the Eagles to be a good team, you’ll be happy with a spot in the 20-team playoff field. If you’re expecting a great team, you’ll be happy if you’re celebrating after a playoff win.

And if you’re expecting a national championship, you’ll spend an awful lot of time going through life being disappointed.

To me, that’s what makes a championship so special.

And that’s also what makes six of them absolutely remarkable.

 

Matt Yogus can be reached at 912-489-9408.

 

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