| FTBL SEASON REVIEW: Expectations, Some Met, Others Still a Goal.


Season Review: Expectations; Some Met, Others Still a Goal.

With Alabama finishing it's 2007 regular season campaign at 6-6 overall, and 4-4 within conference play, it's time to take a moment and revisit what has transpired over the last 11 months both in terms of the team, the outlook, and the fan base.

I'll speak from a personal standpoint. Whether you find yourself in the same categories as some I mention is going to be left up to your own introspection. Like this seasons expectations, whether one can look inward and judge is entirely left up to one person.

Before the season started I knew of different problems the team was facing. For each and every one of those problems there were answers readily available but whether or not those in question would find the correct answers was the only thing in doubt.

There is absolutely no doubt that one problem I had seen over the last 4 seasons had to be corrected. I knew it before Coach Saban began reiterating the same problem this spring. There is a mentality that has to be a staple in each and every winning program. It is a team concept with everyone buying into the same process. Winning, doing it with hard work, and not quiting until that goal is reached.

From day one of spring practice there was one major key word: finish. To achieve that goal requires having pride in yourself, dedication in what is needed, and never, ever quiting.

It's quite clear that while some of this years team bought into that concept there were those who didn't. Some may have feigned to buy in that process. Other's, simply didn't and made little effort to try.

In society, people point to a "cultural bias" and define it as something a person grew up in and around and therefore in simply permeated their outlook. I can use the term "cultural bias" when looking at this team. After spending years around a mentality that didn't require what was needed to be successful they've not only grown accustomed to it, comfortable with it, but seemingly unable to realize what state they are in.

Here's where one of my expectations wasn't met. I expected, or perhaps a better phrase is had faith, that these individuals would see the same things I did and realize what it would take to overcome what had hindered them the past few years. I was wrong.

Some of the fan base has cried, "Why are they still on the team?" The expectation in this case reads "If they don't buy into the process, kick them to the curb. We'll just replace them with recruiting."

Ah, there is the true definition of unrealistic expectations. Have you heard the expression "choosing the best of two evils?" Quite frankly, on a cursory examination that would seem like a logical move. However, it would only serve to further hinder the program than help one single season. One player being "booted" more than likely leads to one player choosing to leave school, which, in turn, leads to a couple of points being subtracted in our annual review by the NCAA on graduation rates. What does that lead to? If you haven't guessed it yet, less scholarships.

Wins and losses are disappointing. I admire the faith some of our fan base has going into each and every game. I loved the enthusiasm demonstrated by some going into this weekends game. I despise the reactions some have after the loss.

While motivation and the right mentality is a struggle within our team, rationality is a struggle (losing battle) with a portion of our fan base.

Speaking personally, if I was sitting at table having some food and drinks with a group of Bama fans and one decided to join our group I would welcome them whole heartedly. But, if I found out they were one of the individuals that uses message forums to vent frustrations, to demean other people, to use our players and program as the butt of a joke I wouldn't kindly excuse myself. If you have seen the movie Crash there is a scene between Terrance Howard and Ludicrous where Howard uses one line I would gladly steal.

"You embarrass me."

There is one expectation for this season that is being met, and being met beyond my expectations.

We knew that Saban was a tireless and successful recruiter. We knew the staff he had assembled were of the same ilk. Now, I see myself having the same expectations I had mentioned with Shula.

Under Shula, I said the only way we are going to get out of the situation we are in is to "recruit our way out of it." We signed some talent only to be spoiled by a certain mentality.

Now, we are left with a situation where we are going to have to recruit our way out. This time we are looking at better overall talent than the past classes. This time, the chances of that mentality being spoiled by others in the same basket this team is in has little chance of continuing.

It's the same situation, but a slight change. It used to be "Why am I in this basket and where am I going." Now, it's "I know why I'm in this basket and and I know where I'm required to go."

Can you say the same?
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