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Post Embracing expectations

Wednesday January 16, 2008

LSU hasn’t been champion long, but we might as well look ahead to the next season while the previous one is still fresh in memory. Over the next several days we’ll look at the strengths, challenges, and dynamics ahead in Georgia’s 2008 season. The dominant story out of the gate will be the expectations facing the 2008 squad.

The "who’s #1?" talk is already starting for the 2008 season. (As an aside, this is why delaying official polls until midseason won’t change much. The discussion will happen with or without their participation.) Tony Barnhart didn’t wait very long to declare Georgia his preseason #1 team. He’s just one pundit, but it’s reasonable to expect many preseason polls to include Georgia among their top 5.

John Kaltefleiter takes what I think is the wrong approach today in the Banner-Herald by downplaying the expectations. I think he overreacts to what’s been going on. He complains of a "public coronation" and says that making Georgia the "hands-down preseason No. 1 team and booking those Orange Bowl reservations for the first weekend of January of next year is not just premature, it’s presumptuous."

The trouble is that no one is really saying all of that. No one, least of all Mark Richt, is assuming anything about next year. There is simply the recognition that there are several really good teams with a shot at a title run next year and, yes, Georgia is one of them. Beyond that, why not Georgia? While the Dawgs might not be the hands-down favorite (is anyone?), they make as good of a case as anyone at this ridiculously early stage. It’s not Kaltefleiter’s job as a journalist to cheerlead for the Dawgs, but if he’s going to try to temper the enthusiasm, I have to disagree.

Blame Dooley or Munson, but for whatever reason Georgia fans seem to shrink from this position and relish the under-the-radar approach. There’s no getting around it though: the Dawgs (and their fans) are going to have to deal with some very high expectations in 2008. We might as well dive in with both feet. The ranking and the expectations should serve as motivators for a team that, as Mark Richt said, "got a taste of just how close we might be to getting that ultimate goal. Everybody is going to be really working hard towards that end."

It’s likely that Georgia will be in its best preseason position since a #3 ranking to open the 2004 campaign. Though an 11-win season, New Year’s Day bowl victory, #7 finish, and a win over Florida can hardly be considered a truly disappointing season, many fans expected Pollack and Greene to ride off into the sunset with at least a divisional title. It didn’t happen.

Fans might be a little gunshy after high expectations in 2000 and 2004, but that’s no reason to run from the promise of the next few seasons. The story of the 2004 season has another lesson: the best program never put all of their eggs in one season or all of their hope in one player. Georgia’s no stranger to this lesson. While 2004 didn’t result in any hardware beyond an Outback Bowl championship, the Dawgs followed it up with an SEC title in 2005.

There is no reason not to be enthusiastic about the 2008 season. The best part is that even if the schedule takes its toll and the Dawgs drop a game or two, this isn’t a one-and-done shot. With outstanding recruiting classes in 2006 and 2007, the pump seems primed for seasons to come in Athens. Excitement and even a little attitude is justified. Enjoy the ride we’re about to take.

Coming up we’ll look a little deeper at some of the reasons for all of this hype and of course give the schedule and other potential stumbling blocks their due.

3 Responses to 'Embracing expectations'

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  • Reed Hall Dawg

    January 16th, 2008
    1:55 pm


    Indeed, Why not Georgia? As an old fart, I’ve tended to be of the mindset of TR, to speak softly and carry a big stick. I don’t mind stating fact but don’t condone braggarts or suffer fools easily. However, with the advent of the information age, a team can no longer afford to sit back and wait for their chance at destiny (see UGA 1980). I makes much moresense to face the possiblities head on and with the understanding that it is our mission and that we can expect no one, I repeat,

  • Reed Hall Dawg

    January 16th, 2008
    1:59 pm


    I repeat, NO ONE, to assist us in accomplishing this task. All Dawgs must be of one mindset and one purpose during the next years of our campaigns. We can let nothing deter us from this goal. Stop our griping and complaining among ourselves and offer our full support to the players and coaching staff. GO DAWGS. WE ARE BEHIND YOU.

  • Kaltefleiter never hesitates to smack down the dawgs. When we beat UF it was because Tebow was hurt and their young defense or AU because of their struggling offense.
    Seems to me he needs to be writing for the North Avenue Gazette (or what ever their paper is).
    I agree with other posts. I would rather have guys standing up to the expectations than cowering away from them. To win championships you need confidence and a little arrogance. Now too much of either can be detrimental but you have to feel like you’re the best d@*n player or team on that field. I personally like the fact that CMR and the players are embracing the expectations. Can’t wait until kickoff, just 226 days away.