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July 3, 2012
Expectations are a funny thing.
When people expect a lot from you, there is almost no way to make them happy.
When people don't expect much from you at all, it isn't that difficult to raise their eyebrows with surprise.
Some of us go through life like this. When it comes to remembering anniversaries and birthdays, those expectations are set high. I better not screw it up. When it comes to fixing the garbage disposal, the expectation is, "Mark, just don't make it any worse" (which I probably still can't meet).
College baseball teams are much the same way. Much of those expectations are based on the name on the front of the jersey more than the one on the back. For programs like Texas, Cal State Fullerton, LSU, and now South Carolina, anything less than a trip to Omaha is a failure.
For other programs, they are hoping to win the automatic bid and maybe to pull off an upset as a Regional #4 seed.
Just looking at the teams in Omaha provided a great example. Stony Brook and Kent State were successes when they made a Regional final. Then they won Regionals, won road SuperRegionals at National seeds, and then each played in the CWS. That folks, is shattering expectations.
Then look at South Carolina and Florida. The Gamecocks had back-to-back titles to live up to. So all Ray Tanner had to do was win three-in-a-row. Good luck with that. South Carolina didn't bring home the trophy and despite making the final, had some people disappointed considering how close they came.
The Gators had nowhere to go but down as the 2011 runnerup and consensus preseason #1. For Florida, once they dropped the opening CWS game to South Carolina, they didn't recover and went 2-and-out in TD Ameritrade. With such a talented, experienced roster, there is no way their fans can consider 2012 a success despite all of the regular season accolades.
Expectations are a crazy thing to manage. Coach of the Year awards are almost always given to the program that was picked low and finished high. With those awards come contract extensions, raises, and better job opportunities. Meanwhile the coaches expected to contend for titles who falter end up with toasty seats and become rumor mill fodder.
Our next two stories will focus on these two categories: who managed their expectations well and who did not.
Look for those later this week.
Until then, I'll leave you with a treat. We lost Andy Griffith today. He was a big part of many of our childhoods - not to mention Braves' rain delays.
Here is a story he told in 1953 about his first football game. Journey back to a time when times were simpler and most of us were not even thought of ...