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Tampering Expectations: a Look at the Second Half of the Season

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Recent unfounded accusations of neologisms aside, I thought it only fitting to borrow a term from the ever-disappointing writers over at The State for my mid-season re-cap. In case you missed this gem, the headline of one of Seth Emerson’s pieces ran as "Tampering Expectations" for some time before someone apparently realized the mistake.

 

Emerson’s piece relays Spurrier’s comments about the expectations surrounding the Gamecocks’ upcoming game with the Tide. Essentially, Spurrier says that this team has an incredible opportunity in front of them, but that fans should keep their own expectations for success reasonable. In other words, temper them. Or tamp them down. Or, if you work at The State, "tamper" them.

 

Insert collective groan here.

However, it did get me thinking: what are reasonable expectations for a team that was predicted by most to finish 5-7 or worse but is currently sitting at 5-1 mid-way through the season? Sure, if you operate in a knowledge vacuum you might be tempted to say that any team at 5-1 should have at least 4 more wins under its belt by season’s close. If you were a pessimist, you might look at USC’s schedule and declare that there’s really only one more win in it for the Gamecocks – Vanderbilt. As usual, you can safely assume that the truth is somewhere in between.

 

As I see it, current expectations for the ‘09 edition of the Gamecocks must be adjusted – up. Coming into this season, the disastrous end to ‘08 and the incredible youth on our two-deep had most saying that a 6-6 season would be moral victory that could lead to much better things in ‘10 and beyond. I, myself, remember thinking that 4-8 or worse should result in Spurrier’s exit, 5-7 or 6-6 should put us in wait-and-see mode depending on how we finished, and 7-5 or better would be a resounding success.

 

At 5-1 I think Gamecock fans can reasonably expect a winning season and a trip to a bowl game. At this point Vanderbilt is a definite win. Yeah, I said it. If we lose to Vandy this year, Steve Spurrier is going to have a full on brain aneurism a la Tom Cruise at the end of Mission Impossible III. Read my lips. It’s not going to happen.

 

But 10-2 isn’t going to happen either. Reasonable people see losses to Alabama and Florida ahead. That leaves Tennessee, Arkansas, and Clemson as toss ups. I think it may be optimistic, but still reasonable, to predict we win two of those three. From where I sit, anything less 7-5 at this point is a failure. Complete and unqualified. Anything less than 8-4 is a failure to take advantage of a golden opportunity. 9-3 or better and Spurrier squelches any talk of having lost his touch. Eric Hyman then commissions Blue Sky to create a statue that captures Spurrier in all his glory.