|original photo courtesy of Auburn University. editing by the author|
It's no secret, Auburn football teams have had muddled success in the past with these highly ranked preseason media expectations.
Here is Phillip Marshall's chart from 247Sports/ Auburn Undercover:
OVERACHIEVERS ( edited: only since the Pat Dye era )
Teams that finished ranked at least three spots higher in the final Associated Press poll than in the preseason poll:
1982: NR, No. 14
1986: No. 14, No. 6
1993: NR, No. 4
1997: No. 16, No. 11
2000: NR, No. 18
2002: NR, No. 14
2004: No. 17, No. 2
2007: No. 18, No. 15
2010: No. 22, No. 1
UNDERACHIEVERS ( edited: only since the Pat Dye era )
Teams that finished at least three spots lower in the final poll than in the preseason poll.
1984: No. 1, No. 14
1985: No. 2, NR
1990: No. 3, No. 19
1991: No. 18, NR
1995: No. 6, No. 22
1996: No. 16, No. 24
1998: No. 25, NR
2003: No. 6, NR
2006: No. 4, No. 9
2008: No. 10, NR
Many Auburn fans believe the Tigers do better when not burdened with high expectations. This may be.
It is my opinion that the coaching staffs have failed to bring to the minds of our players "Championships are what we expect at Auburn." The players must believe this can be achieved through hard work and dedication to the team. This is called having a "championship mentality."
This simple goal, if you will, is something that we as fans have to embrace as being a legitimate expectation every season.
We as Auburn fans also realize the fine line between expecting to compete for championships, and this being our birthright.
The biggest letdown that has to be avoided. It is imperative the "never to yield" attitude must be maintained, even when championships become out of reach. Having 5 of 6 losses to end your season, is where that history mentioned above has it's teeth. That falls on the coaches.
However, we as fans must also embrace this simple fact: If Auburn does contend for championships every season, then we must come to expect these highly ranked preseason expectations. Only then will we start achieve that "Championship mentality."
The big question now though is: Can this 2015 Auburn team handle the lofty preseason rankings, and projected playoff spots that are being published by the national sports media?
With the combined coaching experience of both Gus Malzahn, and Will Muschamp, both having been a part of National Championship teams, the answer is a resounding yes.
The 2015 Auburn Tigers can and will be as good as expected.