I'm excited. They're excited. Are you going to join us? - Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics
The finale of my series will take a look at the big picture of Tech Athletics, its fans, their perceptions of our teams, and the reality of where they stand.
Speculation #7: The morale of Tech fans is lower than it should be after the past few seasons.
In the fall of 2009, our football team made a magical run to the Orange Bowl, securing an ACC Championship and giving people a lot of hope for and confidence in our program. Folks were pumped up and confident about Paul Johnson, who'd been wildly successful in his first two years as head coach.
The morale hasn't since been that high about any of our programs.
In the seasons since, the football team has gone 6-7, 8-5, and 7-7 -- three marks that don't quite fall in the same league as an 11-3 season with a conference championship and BCS Bowl berth. Since the end of that fall 2009 season, our basketball program has had a mediocre season, a horrible season, a season under a new head coach (where home games were played off-campus), and then a season with major growing pains, while the fan support hasn't yet fully recovered from the backside of the Hewitt era. The baseball team has gone 47-15, 42-21, and 38-26, respectively, with an aggregate record of 6-6 in NCAA Tournament games (all of which they hosted).
Needless to say, our teams haven't been impressive, but (outside of basketball in the 2010-2011 season) they haven't been catastrophically bad either. So we could theoretically consider the glass to be half-full...right? (All you engineers out there had better not give me any crap about the glass being twice as big as necessary, either. You think you're so clever...)
Wrong. We Tech fans are a proud breed. We come from a long stretch of athletic success. Our school is associated with the likes of John Heisman, Bill Alexander, Bobby Dodd, Bobby Ross, Bobby Cremins, and Danny Hall. More recently, pros such as Keith Brooking, Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Derrick Morgan, Morgan Burnett, Michael Johnson, Phillip Wheeler, Derrick Favors, Stephon Marbury, Chris Bosh, Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra, and Mark Teixeira ALL call Georgia Tech home.
As Tech fans, we actively expect excellence from our programs (athletic or otherwise) and recognize that being middle-of-the-pack is unacceptable.
You know, I agree with you. We're an outstanding institution, and there's no good excuse for producing anything other than excellence on the field. We as fans and as a school deserve better than we've gotten the past few years. However, I'd like you to hear me out on why we should be more optimistic as a fan base based on where we currently stand.
This team has struggled to really establish and maintain momentum ever since their Orange Bowl loss to Iowa. They lost 4 players' worth of NFL talent, and then lost their starting QB to an injury late in the season before losing an ugly matchup with Air Force in the Independence Bowl. Then they won 6 games in a row to start the season before losing two straight, only to beat their rival Clemson before finishing the season 1-4. Then they had a 2-4 start before firing their defensive coordinator mid-season, only to finish on a 5-3 run including a Sun Bowl win.
I realize that none of the above is particularly confidence-inspiring. Keep in mind, though, the team is finally starting to mold around the personnel that Paul Johnson wants in place, and the pieces look to be in place to make 2013 a special season. The team is home to a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, and is adjusting things schematically to make the most of that talent. Most of our tough games will be played at home this season, which is always a good sign. Have faith in this team. We won't win the National Championship next season, but what you're going to see is much more satisfying than what you've seen the past few seasons. Get ready for 9 wins, at worst.
This team is still recovering from the wreckage that Paul Hewitt left behind. What you've seen in the first two years of Brian Gregory's reign, though, is steady improvement altogether. You're going to continue seeing that improvement from a very young, highly talented group as they mature and adjust to playing together. Consider where this team was two years ago and compare it to now -- that's the kind of improvement you're going to keep seeing from Brian-Gregory-coached teams.
Again, they won't win a national championship next season, but they'll be a team vastly different from what Paul Hewitt left behind. I don't know about you, but I'm excited to see what this group can do.
This team has trended downwards for the past three years, but is on a path to a full recovery at this point. They sit at 17-3 and, at nearly 10 runs per game, have one of the most dangerous offenses in the country. That offense is backed up by a reliable pitching staff that won't let most of their games even get close. From where we sit now, there's every reason to think that this team has greatness in it. Let's give it a couple of months and see what they're capable of come Tournament time -- I, for one, am preparing myself to see something special.
Folks, the long and short of it here is that we spend a lot of time dwelling on the past. We focus on the shortcomings of our teams and get worked up more over the losing outcomes than the positives that occur over the course of the game. What I'm telling you is that right now, we shouldn't spend so much time looking at the outcomes -- those are irrelevant to the future. Take a look at what happened in those contests, and be excited and confident in our teams moving forward. There's a lot there worth getting excited over.
I'm obviously an optimist here, but I want to hear from you. Should we as fans be excited about our teams as we move forward?