After a debacle of an offseason, college football is now back underway. The past weekend teams put on their uniforms again and took the field. With a heavy cloud from the Penn State scandal hanging over college football, die hard fans flocked to stadiums.
And like every season there are sports writers, fans, and couch quarterbacks pulling out their pens and papers to start critiquing every little move their favorite team does. Countless articles have already surfaced over what teams should be scared and how they look after one game. Impressions over teams began to make their into magazines and Sportscenter.
Already, teams hurt their stock while some made sports analysts drool. Michigan looked like a blunder of team and Denard Robinson was Mr. Irrelevant against a stout Alabama defense. Oklahoma took forever to put away a so-so UTEP team while USC rolled over a porous Hawaii defense. In a world where first impressions matter, this past weekend left analysts with plenty of criticism and hysteria.
But why are first impressions so important? College football teams don’t get the luxury of preseason games or exhibition games. First games are exactly that; first games. There will be nerves, first game jitters, and mistakes.
In 2010 Virginia Tech lost to a good Boise State team before falling to James Madison out of the blue the following week. With a 0-2 start everybody was ready to stick a fork in the Hokies and find a new ACC champion. The fighting Frank Beamers went on an 11 game win streak before losing to an Andrew Luck led Stanford team in the Orange Bowl.
But unlike most powerhouse teams, the Hokies had the guts to face Boise instead of some FCS foe. Oklahoma State put up 84 points on some team who was there for a paycheck. But what does that mean? Nothing! Last year those same Cowboys lost to a mediocre Iowa State team, which cost them a shot in the BCS title game. Michigan went out on a limb and embarrassed themselves on national television. Robinson’s Heisman hype may have gone down the drain. But don’t be quick to count the Wolverines who still have a realistic shot at winning the Big 10 (or is that Big 12, conference realignment is confusing).
Georgia Tech started off 6-0 last year and looked like a real contender before losing five of their last seven. Unlike most sports there is parity in college football. Rarely do we see sleepers like Butler make it to the championship games, but with every game being make or break, it makes every game that more exciting. BCS busters have won their way into big games and proved the little guys can win too. Too eager are we to dismiss them with first impressions. Their too small, don’t have the five star recruits, and the budget to compete with the Texas’ and Alabama’s of college football.
A New York Yankees pitcher once said that Mickey Mantle would never make it in the big leagues after Mantle’s tryout for the Bronx Bombers. To his surprise Mantle became one of the most successful Yanks of all time.
Let first impressions be first impressions.