This kind of celebration has been a long time coming for Paul Johnson. - Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
What many might call a headscratcher of a season has come to an end. Let's take one last look back at the season that was.
As the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets walked into one of the most hostile environments in college football, anticipating the season's start, they knew that they had an opportunity in front of them to do something special. Things were looking up for a young, talented football team. They were big underdogs to their opponents, yet they were anything but afraid. They hung tight with them the entire game, and scored a touchdown to take a 3-point lead with only 44 seconds left to play. Here it was, a major upset on a major stage -- Monday night, Labor Day, ESPN. There was an incredible excitement across the entire fanbase -- our team was ready to shock the world. And then they did...only not in the way we'd hoped. Virginia Tech drove down the field, kicked a tying field goal as time expired, and won in overtime. We were all left wondering what could have been done better, and contemplating how close we had been to beating a great Virginia Tech team.
It was just a weird season for Georgia Tech like that. We had played a great game against a great team and had all but won, only to lose in one of the most disappointing fashions, and then find out that the opponent itself was actually pretty disappointing as a whole (all else equal, without that victory the Hokies wouldn't have been bowl eligible).
Now we're at the end of a season that we had high hopes for, looking back on what was a major rollercoaster as a whole. Last minute losses to Virginia Tech and Miami, losing in the fourth quarter to Clemson, getting blown out by Middle Tennessee State, our in-state rival, and our Homecoming opponent, and coming up just short of winning a conference championship....only to have a big, statement win against Virginia, 4 wins in 5 games to become bowl-eligible (including a 68-point performance against the always tough UNC and an 18-point win over a well-coached and underrated Duke team), and, of course, getting the monkey off of our back with the bowl victory.
I feel conflicted when trying to decide whether I'm satisfied with how the season went...winning a bowl game is HUGE for this program, and to be as close to beating Florida State as we were is impressive to me -- and yet, we still finished 7-7, lost 3 games at home (including two blowouts by out-of-conference opponents and a last-minute loss in a game that we had all but won), and got shown up by georgia. (How appropriate that a rollercoaster of a season ends in such conflicted feelings, eh?)
How do I feel about how the season turned out? Well, it wasn't a disaster...and yet it wasn't a season that we'll be excited about looking back on either. It was just an average season...though it had some awfully high peaks and some awfully low valleys. I'm not quite satisfied, and yet I'm not really complaining either...I just don't know how to take it. Maybe time will help, or maybe I just need to be distracted and move on. Who knows?
I want to close on this note, though: one of the biggest reasons that we all love college football so much is that there is ALWAYS next year, and that you start each and every year undefeated -- any year could be the year. I don't know about you, but as I look at next year, with all of the young talent we're going to see on the field, I'm pretty excited. This program has a bright future ahead of it, and I'm looking forward to seeing what it yields.
8 months left until toe meets leather.