College football fans largely can be divided into one of two categories this week: 1) Euphoric because their team’s opening-week victory keeps alive the totally realistic scenario of going undefeated through the season; 2) Distraught because their team’s opening-week loss, embarrassment and a sure sign of the decline of Western civilization all but ensures a 0-12 season.
Fans, and some media, generally react this way for one of two reasons: 1) Emotions; 2) Beer. Sometimes both. They pair well together.
Some poor schlep, who identified himself as "Tyler in Atlanta," phoned a radio postgame show following Georgia's 38-35 loss to Clemson late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. He got emotional. He transitioned to full-scale meltdown within seconds. "Richt just ain't good enough! We gotta get rid of (Georgia coach Mark) Richt! Our whole season's gone!" he said, and then he cried on the air.
Here’s some unsolicited advice for Tyler and all in his spiritual network: Inhale, exhale.
College football enters its second week. There will be some market corrections. There always are. It's called the "Gerry Faust Rule." (More on that later.) This weekend and over the next few weeks, we're going to learn which opening games had significance and which will become an afterthought.
Georgia plays South Carolina in Athens. If the Bulldogs win their opening SEC game, they will have an early advantage in the SEC East. The winner of the division goes to the SEC title game. The winner of the SEC title game almost always plays for the national championship (and, lately, wins). See what I did there?
Then again, if the Dogs lose, they’ll be 0-2 and postgame shows again will morph into 12-step recovery groups.
Referencing his team’s blocking against Clemson, Richt said, “There were times we looked like we were in the first grade out there.”
But he probably put early-season results in perspective best when he referenced Vanderbilt’s opening loss to Mississippi.
“The goal is to win the Eastern Division,” he said. “Vanderbilt is the only team that has a loss, and that was a crossover game. So if Vanderbilt runs the table they would still win every tiebreaker.”
Just as we will learn something about Georgia this week, we also soon will learn something about Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets opened the season with a 70-0 win over Elon. That moved AP voters to such a great degree that Tech went from six points in the “also receiving votes” category to eight points (one behind Bowling Green. Bowling Green?). But after a bye this week, Tech plays four consecutive ACC games of increasing difficulty: Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Miami.
Texas A&M is celebrating defeating Rice and Johnny Manziel making it through one-half of football while alienating only another 10 million people. But the Aggies allowed 31 points in the game. What does that mean for the Alabama game next week?
Ask Gerry Faust about first-week aberrations. Somewhere in his office, he probably has a memento from his first game as Notre Dame’s coach in 1981. The Irish beat LSU 27-9. They quickly moved to No. 1 in the rankings because that’s what voters who’ve been romanced by tales of Rockne and Gipp do.
But the following week, Notre Dame lost to Michigan 25-7, lost four of the next five and finished 5-6. Faust’s next job: coach of the Akron Zips. (I’ll say this for Faust: Great guy. I did a long interview with him at Akron in 1987. He had two books on his desk: The Bible and a Notre Dame media guide.)
Arkansas fans know about aberrations. Some believed the Razorbacks would be fine last season, even after that whole Bobby Petrino/TMZ thing. The vagabond John L. Smith took over. He won the opener over Jacksonville State 49-24. Quarterback Tyler Wilson threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns. People were talking Heisman. The Razorbacks moved from a preseason No. 10 to No. 8 in the AP rankings.
The following week, Arkansas lost to Louisiana-Monroe. Then they lost to Alabama 52-0. They finished 4-8. Smith filed for bankruptcy and now is the head coach at Fort Lewis College, a Division II team in Durango, Colo., that 0-10 last season.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is laboring to help Tigers fans keep things in perspective after the win over Georgia. When asked about his team moving up to No. 4 in the rankings, he said, “It just doesn’t matter. If we are No. 4 going into the ACC championship (game), then that’s great. Maybe that game gives us a chance to get in to the final game. Right now, we have just played one game.”
Tell that to “Tyler in Atlanta.”
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