One of the best times of the year, for me anyways, is here. The time where I hit the newsstand at a local store and pick up the preview magazines for football season. It’s not uncommon for me to pick up a few of these, though I do miss the old Sporting News ones. Those were my favorite before they stopped putting them out.
Regardless, it’s enjoyable to see the predictions that are made in these various publications and how wrong they usually end up being. Sans Alabama being a national title contender. I think we can file that alongside of being a certainty with death and taxes at this point.
For my own personal teams, it’s a mixed bag. My favorite professional team, Tampa Bay, seems to be slated towards the bottom of the NFC again this season. While I certainly wouldn’t mind that to get the current coaching staff and general manager out of there, it is quite disappointing to see the off-season moves that were made to mean so little.
There are actually expectations this year for Iowa State football. Two publications I’ve read has Iowa State going to a bowl game and finishing with a winning record. Now, if you know anything about Cyclone football, expectations of such a manner are unusual to the fan base. We’re usually happy with six wins and a sniff at a bowl game. Start talking eight or nine wins and a decent bowl? That’s something else.
How do we as fans take these expectations, or lack thereof, for our teams during the pre-season and even at the start of training camp like the NFL is headed towards, and not suffer from disappointment. I went through that last year with Tampa being named a trendy playoff pick, only to see the team falter out of the gate and not really accomplish a whole lot.
Was it disappointing? Yeah, somewhat. I was looking forward to a possible playoff run, but games aren’t played on paper. Unless, again, it concerns Alabama, it always works out for the Tide.
Who saw the Eagles’ run last year? Not a lot of people. Most people pegged Dallas for that kind of a run. Most people didn’t see New Orleans making such a drastic turnaround. Jacksonville and Tennessee were surprise teams last season, despite most thinking they would not be able to make a run like they did.
Also speaks to what Iowa State was able to do as well. No one, I don’t even think the most hardcore of Iowa State fans saw the eight wins and bowl win coming much less two wins over top-five programs coming, one of them on the road with a third string quarterback making his first career start.
That’s just the thing though. Football, along with most other sports, can be impossible to predict sometimes. We don’t know who is going to rise up from out of nowhere to become a key contributor. No one saw the rise of Kyle Kempt coming. Not even sure if Iowa fans knew that Joshua Jackson was going to be a ball hawk and become Ohio State’s daddy.
Who sees three interceptions in a game coming?
It’s usually fun to see who are predicted to become an All-American in college ball, or a top flight fantasy prospect in pro ball, only to see some kid or unknown rise up to become the best. Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt was predicted to maybe get some playing time, start a handful of games, but no one thought he was going to explode like he did.
Every single year we think we have our team figured out and they can surprise us. That’s the beauty of sports. These expectations, good or bad, just give us some ideas of what we can see from our teams. Will Iowa State actually win eight games and go to the Cactus Bowl? Will Iowa settle for second in their division behind Wisconsin?
Only time can tell. That’s why we watch and that’s why they play. Expectations can be a curse or a motivating factor. Unless, again, you’re Alabama football then it really doesn’t matter what people think.