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The Bane of Heightened Expectations

By on November 12th, 2013 in Football, Memories 15 Comments »

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 04 SEC Championship - Auburn v South CarolinaI’ll go ahead and start out by repeating the obvious: Who in the world last year could have expected us to be 9-1 going into Georgia week, much less feeling better than good about our chances against the Bulldogs –  much less discussing the SEC Championship, and even further less thinking of BCS scenarios? The general consensus of our writers and commenters here put Auburn’s relevancy to the national football picture at two to three years away, with some tough times in between.

Yet, now we are singing the (paraphrased) old song “What a Difference a Year Makes.” We have truly traveled far on the Gus Bus in such a short time. We should all just be happy for what the Tigers have already achieved! However, going into Georgia week, I now find myself with a curious disease heightened expectations. 

Yeah, I was shocked we got bowl eligible against aTm, but figured we’d eventually do it against Florida Atlantic. I was one of the folks who decried our defensive performance at Arkansas, while curiously overlooking that this was an EIGHTEEN-POINT WIN on the road in the SEC. I was restored to confidence at our blowout / near shut-down of Tennessee, but now I am worried about the last two games of the season. And my worry is the selfish one that ‘I’ won’t get to experience a “win that counts” this year.

Let me explain–Way way back in the time of the 6-game conference schedule, and no BCS to worry about, there were only four games that “counted” to me each year – Georgia Tech, Florida, Georgia, and Alabama (add Florida State when we had them regularly). If any of those teams were “down” that year, that was one less game that “counted” for me (provided we won, of course). It was a foregone conclusion that the SEC Champion was going to be ignored for the Mythical National Championship. I say that because the best team from the best conference (the aforementioned SEC champ) would have one or maybe two losses after navigating both a tough conference schedule plus a usually interesting (at least through the Eighties) non-conference schedule. Win those four or five games, TCB against whatever cupcakes we had, and take it home in the bowl, and the season would be a good year.

With conference realignment, that line-up of games has become a different four for me: LSU, Arkansas, Georgia, and Alabama. Add Florida when they rotate in and are good. Texas A&M for me though, is still a little too new to the conference to provide full visceral satisfaction, even for that masterful, historical last-minute offensive comeback / defensive shutdown this year. 

Let’s face it, we EXPECT to beat any team from a state between Alabama and Louisiana or (these days) north of our state line (sidenote: it’s funny that we have a better streak against Tenn than Vandy). We already blew the game against LSU in the first quarter (and, sadly, it looks like a possible BCS) with that fumbled punt snap. This year, Arky is down, down, down, and it looks like Georgia is a shell of what they really are with all their injuries.

If Georgia fights hard, that could be a win that “counts” in my reckoning; if they are still ridiculously bummed up, that might take the luster (and smack talk-ability) out of any victory from there. Bama, of course, is a mountain bringing itself to PDF at JHS, for us either to climb or upon which to be crushed.

Yes, this is crazy talk, not being happy with what we got, but it is the way I feel. Although I’ll never love the Tigers any less, my BIRG-ability (see last article) for this season depends on the two games in front of us. Boy, it was so much simpler last year when the veil of resignation descended on us AU fans. It was simpler when all we wanted for this year was for the Tigers to fight hard and “give ‘em a lick, give ‘em a lick / harder, harder” every game, regardless of the score (and that is all it looked like we could hope for after Miss State and LSU). 

Now, this team is on fire. It looks like they are focused on each game in front of them and amazing prospects could lie just ahead. I, and probably most of you out there, now have a bad case of heightened expectations.

As someone who knows me thoroughly and often razzes me – I’d probably complain if you hung me with a new rope.

Michael Val

(Who lied … that win over aTm sure does COUNT!!!)


  1. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    What you talkin’ about Willis?

    I don’t care if Georgia claims they are banged up or that Bobo is sniffing cyanide or Richt is taking the high road and starting play flag football……..If we we in Saturday, WE WIN THE SERIES!!!! We start to reconcile the lopsided 7-83 that has been the last few years. For crying out loud! It’s Georgia Week!!!! Annihilate, neuter, run down, whatever, beat those feral mutts!!! War Damn Eagle!!

    (who likes to keep it real, yo)

    • MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

      Come on TOTM, how do you really feel about UGA? No more holding back, tell it like it is.

    • KoolBell KoolBell says:

      You have , uh, not taken your meds today have ya?

      I actually feel the exact same way as you do.

      • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

        I’m good. I’m good. I hate Georgia. I despise Mark Richt. Wouldn’t you be *more* worried if I didn’t have so much fire this week. It’s Georgia Week, Man!!!!

  2. Malakai Malakai says:

    Finbaum called Georgia and Auburn “kissing cousins” on ESPN’s The “Experts” (what a frickin misnomer right?) today. My god I can’t stand that weedy little prick.

    • mvhcpa says:

      Thanks for commenting, Malakai. AU and UGA were “kissing cousins” up until the Bulldogs’ recent spate of success in the new millenium. The Dooley/Dye connections, the history as the oldest rivalry (older and more played than Bama), and the proximity of the two schools really did make this a friendly rivalry for years.

      Then UGA got “good” while getting a streak of wins on us and out came the Bama-ish attitude from the Dawgs. Now, since I live a few miles from Athens, I just hate them.

      Michael Val
      (who needs to dig up an old column on SBN about wishing things were back the way they were with AU-UGA)

      • sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

        Don’t imagine it was civil even when Dooley was coaching. As a student, I remember hating Georgia and their nasty fans every bit as much as I did the Bama bunch.

        It’s the only time I remember being cussed at by grey-haired grandmother fans in “G” sweaters using language that would make a sailor blush. It was far from a unique occurrence whenever we played them. And that was from the ‘classy’ side of the crowd.

    • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

      I would rather kiss my cousin, any of my cousins, than have my lips perpetually glued to Saban’s derrière.

  3. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    Don’t forget that we are still pretty gimpy ourselves. We even lost guys prior to the season that were expected to be big contributors.

    Everybody has injuries. Some use them as excuses. Some close ranks and carry on.

    All wins count.

    • War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

      Exactly, if they’re complaining about injuries while they have the SECs all time passing leader, then they would still see themselves as under-dawgs even if they were the Seahawks.

  4. War Eagle Girl War Eagle Girl says:

    I agree I miss the old “rivalry”. It was always friendly smack talk not vicious like hating the updykes. I still can’t figure out what went wrong as I said the other day. Now my hate smolders for them. They are a frustrated fan base for sure and I think we’re the easiest target. And we take a LOT of recruits from them. Now 2 awesome QBs. They don’t have an in-state rivalry anymore. I know lots in my family that don’t even make a great effort to go. I do miss playing Ga Tech myself.

    Annihilate the Dawgs!!

  5. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    For those of you that live “close” to Athens, try being born in and living out your life in big br, LA and being a Dye hard Auburn fan. I catch smack talk all the time, especially since ’99 and the cigar game. So, with all this talk, you know what game really COUNTS for me,(besides uat, of course!) and the wins have been few and far between. Shug, Sully and Beasley couldn’t win it twice and the Amazins fell flat in br. Dye lost here with two field goals in the “earthquake” game and Barfield lost with Brooks gaining 200+ yards and a blocked punt. Only Bowden and Tubby could win here. Chizik and Newton humbled them in Jordan-Hare in 2010. Since then, it’s been bleak for Auburn. In spite of all this, I never leave home without something on me that says,”I love Auburn!” And, win or lose:


    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!!


  6. allanonj allanonj says:


    I am probably one of the few who believes Auburn will be in the SEC champ game every year. Some may call me delusional, but I look at it as simply either we will or we wont. When Gus was announced as the new HC, I said we had a chance this year. Now, I still have heightened expectations, but I have had them from the beginning.
    I got down during one game I was watching, and my wife reminded me that Auburn hadn’t given up, they were still fighting. They are STILL fighting for the win.


  7. Malakai Malakai says:

    Allanonj I’m completely with you. I believe we are going to compete and win in every game and make it to Atlanta. Isn’t that the definition of being a fan? Sure I’m not betting my ride on it, but I have to believe in my team. That is also why I think last year was such a shock to the AU faithful. 2011 wasn’t great, but we knew we’d have a hangover year after loosing talent like Newton and Fairly. The way last season went down was like watching a slow-motion car crash extended over a three month period.

    Auburn has always been and should always be in the discussion when top SEC programs are discussed. The west has Auburn, Corndogs, and Anuses. The east has SC, UGly, and UF. TAMU will decline heavily in the next few years. I haven’t seen enough of Mizzou to really make out where they are as a program, but being new to the SEC it’ll take more than one year to put them in the upper echelons of the tradition SEC powerhouses.

    Auburn may not win out every year, but teams should always FEAR Auburn when they have to play them.