BOTC Focus Group: Expectations Edition

Welcome again to another installment of the BOTC Focus Group.  Again, the participants are me, Panjandrum, EMAW, mystman995 and ksubailey.  As always, if you'd like to participate in future Focus Groups, email me at bringonthecats @ gmail.com.  If you'd like to participate in this one, throw your opinion around in the comments.

This week, we wade through the doom-and-gloom, discuss the morality of betting, and get in a long discussion of proper expectations.  The questions!

1.  We're 3-1, but seriously, how many more wins are on the schedule?
 
2.  To pick up on something Seth asked me this week, what's your fear level of Texas Tech, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being not scared at all, 10 being Exorcist-level terror)?
 
3.  What does the result of this game signal for us?  Does a win mean things are back on track?  Does a humiliating loss mean we're doomed to a dreary conference season?
 
4.  We have seen a lot of personnel changes since the Louisville game.  Which one do you like most?  Least?
 
5.  Finish this sentence: If Texas Tech runs for 300+ yards in this game...

ksubailey:

1.  3-1 today, 4-8 at the end of the season.  We'd be lucky to pick up
a win over Iowa State, or Texas A&M.  As far as an out-of-the-blue
victory, like what we've had over Texas the last two seasons... that
will truly be a miracle.  Our defense helped us win those games by
delivering brutal hits, forcing turnovers, and even scoring.  I don't
see that happening in the 2008 season.  At least I'll save money by
not going to a bowl game... maybe I can afford to go watch basketball
in Vegas now.

2.  I'll say an 8.  Not because I'm NOT completely terrified, I am...
just because watching The Exorcist was the most scared I've ever been
in my life.  I guess since I know what to expect - it can't reach that
level of terror.  And - I know I'm not as scared because I haven't
been sleeping with my light on like I did after I saw that movie.

3. I'm not even considering a win a possibility - so I'll just skip
that part and hope that I eat my words on Saturday.  If we lose by a
little, I'll be happy and there might be hope after all.  If we lose
by a lot, I'll feel the same way I do right now.  That's not a good
way to feel, by the way.

4.  Lamark Brown's contributions last week showed me that there are
some signs of intelligence in our football department.  That guy is
just an athlete.  I can't think of any personnel changes that I'm
unhappy with.  Try anything at this point, for the love!  Shuffle
around all you want, just make it get better.

5.  ...I'll be happy because I'm putting $1,000 on TTU to cover the spread.  : )

mystman995:

1.  Being in the Big 12, I don't think there are any more guaranteed wins. Iowa State and Texas A&M should be games where we are favored. Nebraska and Colorado are winnable games. Kansas would be a small upset. The other three would be 'Texas' sized upsets. Get it? Because we beat Texas when they were ranked high the past two years. And I live in Texas and it's big. So it's funny. Anyway, 2-3 more wins as I see it.

2.  Fear should only be used if you don't know who your opponent is and what they can do. Everybody in the nation knows what Tech is capable of. We're 'supposed' to loose this game. If you play scared, you're going to loose. But Mr. Crabtree still scares me, 7.

3.  I think the results of this game are pretty much arbitrary. A win means we're one step closer to the postseason. A loss is what Vegas is betting on. It's not until those games against NU, CU, and KU where results will start to signal something.

4.  Lamark Brown for both. The reason why I don't like this was how he was used in the first collegiate game as a running back. 29 carries? Really? How is he supposed to adjust to the physical toll of being an everyday back? Have we lost all hope on the rest of the backs?  The reason why I did like this move is because something needed to be done. Brown was very effective. His 4+ yards per carry wasn't too bad either(although a good college running back is at least in the 6's, in my opinion).

5.  If Texas Tech runs for 300+ yards in this game…..
…we will not win a single game for the rest of the season.
…hell has frozen over.
…Mike Leach should run for president.
…we should be demoted to the FCS, along with Baylor. That way there can be an numerically accurate Big 10.
…I might actually have to start watching the NFL.
…time to go back to college and test my skills as a walk-on.

TB:

1.  Two tops.  I think we win two of the four games against Texas A&M, Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa State.  Don't let Husker fans fool you, they're really not very good this year.  Of course, neither are we, but with the game in Manhattan we may have a fighting chance.
 
2.  11.  100.  Pick a number.  I have this awful feeling that Tech is the hurricane and we are Galveston.
 
3.  No, one win does not mean we are back.  Everyone points to the Texas wins the last two years as evidence that Ron Prince and this coaching staff know what they are doing, but a good coaching staff demonstrates consistency.  Consistency is not losing to Iowa State and getting annihilated by a horrible Nebraska team.
 
A bad loss is merely expected at this point, unfortunately.  I have no expectations of winning this game, all "it's college football and anything can happen" thoughts aside.  I have completely lost faith that this team can win games.
 
4.  This was probably a dumb question on my part, because everyone will probably say Lamark Brown to running back.  It was a very good decision.  We were struggling at running back and he wasn't measuing up to our other wide receivers.  Brown is too good of an athlete to leave on the bench.
 
I'm going to be interested to see how the Tysyn Hartman-to-safety move plays out.  It's pretty much impossible for me to have an opinion at this point, but I will be watching closely to see how it plays out.
 
5.  ...we might set a college football record for most rushing yards allowed in a single season.  What is the record, anyway?
 
Seriously, if Tech puts up 300+ on us, we are doomed.  If that happens, next week's game against Texas A&M will be the last chance for a win on the season.

EMAW:

1. Honestly, I see 2 wins. The most obvious is probably A&M, and then Iowa State. After that, I can see 2 possible wins against either Colorado and Nebraska. If I had to give the over under, I'd set it at 2 and take the over.
 
2. I'd give my fear level a 7. For some reason, an untested Tech team just doesn't scare me as much as it should. While I don't think we'll win, I don't know if we'll get absolutely blown out of the water. I can see Freeman and the offense keeping us within 20.
 
3. If our offense comes out and scores 40+ and still loses by a touchdown or more, it will be a long season. Our defense needs to show it can create turnovers and make big stops against a good offense. A win should definitely give us great momentum, and would make it easier to become goal eligible (which should be the goal this year).
 
4. The most obvious change I like is Lamark in the backfield. Hopefully he gets used as a versatile offensive threat, such as still lining up at receiver on occasion. The change I like least is John Houlik being re-instated to backup. I think I still have a dirty taste in my mouth after watching him miss tackles and get beat in the late stages of last season. But, he's got experience and that may be something we need later.
 
5. we will hear that Tech has the greatest running game and offensive line Ron Prince has ever seen.

Panjandrum:

1. Two, but pushing three.  I think KSU can beat A&M, and hopefully, they can rally the last two home games of the season vs. Nebraska and ISU.  I'll echo TB's thoughts; Nebraska just isn't very good, and if they beat KSU in Manhattan, it's more of an indicator of how bad we are as opposed to how good they are.  That said, I will only assume our tough-as-Charmin defense allows us to win two-of-three in that particular series of crap football.

2. Ten.  If Tech puts up seventy, which is a distinct possibility, this season is shot, and we may as well spend the rest of the year speculating on who the next head coach will be.  This dam is about to burst.

3. Back?  No, not at all.  Any euphoria that KSU gets over beating Tech (and then possibly A&M) will come crashing down when the @ Colorado/Oklahoma/@ Kansas/@ Missouri slate plays out.  If KSU wins one of those games, I'll be more shocked than when I found out Clay Aiken was actually gay!

4. Tysyn Hartman at Safety.  I'm saying this for two reasons: First, it's good because we're paper thin at safety, and we need some youth to develop there.  Hartman is a great athlete that will bring some serious smarts and athleticism to a very important position.  Second, I didn't want TB to feel dumb by echoing the Lamark Brown comment (which really was the best move).

5.  ... the guy that jumped off of the East-side upper-deck was me.  Just an FYI in advance.  Make sure my wife gets any posthumous royalties.

TB: Man, I hope that doesn't happen.  I'd feel really bad for the student you landed on.
 
And it would be a big hit to the blog!  Didn't want to leave that out.

EMAW: Not to go off topic, but is the Exorcist really that scary? I watched it in high school and then once more in college, and I just never thought it was the scariest thing I ever watched. Creepy? Yes. Scary? No. Maybe I'm missing something....but, I'm not a big horror fan anyways.

TB: I really couldn't think of a good horror movie, so I went with one that everyone knew about.
 
I almost never watch horror movies, so my breadth and depth of knowledge in that area is lacking.

mystman995: I'll tell you what is scary, Rosie O'Donnell all wet...

Rosie_medium
Actually that's probably not Rosie, but that's what I'm going to call 'it'

TB: I'm really glad that picture, whatever it is, did not show up when I opened that message in class.  The people behind me probably would have had a fit.

Panjandrum: Two comments:

1) "Hit to the blog" - I don't know if that was intended to be a pun, but it worked well.  Kudos.

2) The scariest thing that I've ever seen, hands down, was the movie "Steel Magnolias".  My wife's made me watch that about two dozen times, and each time, I shriek in horror at the sight of Darryl Hanna.  I have no idea what everyone sees in her.  She's taller than Josh Freeman, and if you colored her hair brown, and put a fake beard on her, I'll be damned if you could distinguish her from a Yeti.

Sweet baby Jesus!  How did they catch Orca?

mystman995: Speaking of Josh Freeman, does anybody think he looks like the guy from Scrubs? Especially with his helmet on anyway. Now only if he listened to Bell Biv DeVoe...

Turk dancing on Scrubs (via IvyxBrown)

TB: Good God, I don't watch any of the TV shows you guys watch.  Start talking The Office or It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, and I may be able to take part in the conversation.

mystman995: To get back on topic...on football at least. What's everyone's prediction of how many points will be scored on Saturday. My guess is somewhere in the 80-85 range with Tech putting up 45-50 of those points. I don't think it's a stretch to say we could score 40, but it's also not a stretch to say Tech won't put up 60.

TB: Put it this way.  It looks like the over right now is 66.  Bet the over.  Bet it big.

mystman995: Is that the overall score or just Tech's...either way I should probably put at least a fiver down. I'm not much of a gambler. I prefer to earn my money the old fashion and honest way.

TB: I know, it's a shockingly low over/under.  I fear Tech could get that all by themselves, but that's why I think this game is such easy money.  Also, Tech is only -7.5.  Huh?
 
But lines like this always scare me.  Does Vegas know something we don't?

TB: Oh, and what's dishonest about making money gambling?  It requires information and skill.

Panjandrum: The Nevada game is throwing everyone off.

I'd be in the lead for my fantasy league (in points) if I would have taken Bradford that week over Harrell.  >:(

The bottom line is that there is a misnomer out there that Tech is a bad road team, and that might be dragging the line down.  I went back and checked, but since 2002, Tech is 4-2 in their first conference road games.  That's not bad.  It's not bad at all.

TB: If I could stomach betting big against K-State, I would have put a lot of my student loan money on Tech to cover and on the over.

Panjandrum: Come on, Shoeless Joe.  I won't tell nobody.

mystman995: Gambling destroys lives and families. Think about the children TB.  You'll have a wife soon. You digust me.

TB: Irresponsible gambling destroys families, just like irresponsible drinking destroys families.  Anyway, I'm not even saying I gamble.  But given the lines on the K-State/Tech and Nebraska/Mizzou games, I'm tempted to put a lot on the line this week.
 
Alas, I won't.

Panjandrum: Only if you lose, mystman, only if you lose.

mystman995: Just don't come crying to me when you can't afford the new Lexus. You'll just have to settle for that Acura, or maybe even the 2-year old BMW. I'll be the guy still driving my Jeep telling you I told you so.

TB: My tastes are pretty simple.  All I want is this...


S2000_medium
...or maybe this...

350z_medium
mystman995: Well according to a survey I made up for this roundtable, 60% of the readers at BOTC believe you will be driving this when you turn 30:

Rolling_medium
TB: Silly readers.  That's what I drive right now.

Panjandrum: Hey, don't make fun of them.  They simply believe in the product.

I'm lovin' it.

TB: Rollin' down the street, eatin' Big Mac, sippin' on supersized Coke (laid back), with my mind on the arches and the arches on my mind.

mystman995: Oh no you di - dn't!

TB: I love the fact that we're avoiding anything resembling actual discussion of the game this Saturday.  Probably says something about our level of frustration regarding the current situation at Vanier.

Panjandrum: I've decided to treat it like a parody.  Before the game, I plan on downloading that song they play during Benny Hill sketches and just looping it on my iPod for three hours.

Crazy lateral play: The Benny Hill Version (via Moolz)


mystman995: Well we could do something like keys to the game, which is more or less not letting the defense suck it up. Really all we can do now is lower out expectations and if we stay close it'll seem like a big accomplishment.

TB: So basically ksubailey was right all along.  Expect less, so that if something good happens you're pleasantly surprised, and if something bad happens, well, you didn't expect much anyway.

Panjandrum: Well, that officially settles it.  Our program has slid to the point where we are okay with moral victories.

If this program were a horse, we'd have taken him out back and put it out of it's misery.

TB: Well, maybe.  Even back in the day, conservative expectations prevented heartbreak later.
 
Of course, when we said "lowered expectations" back then, we meant a nine-win season.

mystman995: It's pretty sad when your expectations are saying that'll it'll be a moral victory if the Cat's keep it within 14 to a team who has never finished better than tied for 2nd place in the Big 12 ON YOUR HOME FIELD.

TB: (Sigh)

Panjandrum: I look at it like this...

Back in 2002, I was beside myself with anger because KSU lost to CU in Boulder, and it meant a national title was off of the table.  At that point, KSU was undefeated with a win at home over USC.  They finished the year 11-2.

In 2007, I was happy that they lost to Auburn by four points because losing on the road to a good SEC team meant we were going places!

Had that loss to Auburn taken place in 2002, I would have been pissed.  Now, if we lost to Auburn by four, home or away, I'd probably be just as happy as if we had won the game.

Doesn't anyone else find that weird?

mystman995: But back in 2002 I couldn't legally drink my sorrows away. But in 2007 I could!

TB: Mystman, don't fudge the truth here.  You couldn't legally drink your sorrows away in 2002, but I lived in your hallway in the dorms.  We all broke a few laws that year.

Panjandrum: I could have (as I was 21 at the time), but I decided it would be a better idea to pound a wooden baseball bat against the ground in my backyard until it broke.

And it did.  That Cal Ripken Jr. Louisville Slugger didn't have a chance against my rage.

mystman995: I believe I did say that I couldn't legally drink. And yes, many laws, health codes, moral values, etc.

I hope it wasn't a maple bat. That could have been 'dangerous.'

Panjandrum: Honestly, I didn't care.  I was kind of out of it at that point.

EMAW: The way I see it, at least our fan base is able to realize that expectations should be lowered. We can recognize a program that is not only rebuilding, but is probably at least 2-3 years from being in any kind of talks of a conference championship (and that's probably being optimistic).
 
Meanwhile our "friends" to the north are so out of touch with reality that they believe a first-year head coach with a bitchy attitude and a crooked nose will instantly make their team contend for a NC.

ksubailey: I was just getting ready to say that.  Nebraska lives in a dream
world.  However, at least they'll never settle for moral victories -
and their athletic department recognizes a bad coach when they see
one... maybe.  I still think they should have kept Solich.

mystman995: I don't think I like the way this conversation is going. Sure we're not as pathetic as Nebraska fans, but if we keep "expecting" 5 win seasons in the "re-building" years (I hate that term btw) what's the point in even following K-State football. Optimism is what keeps me craving college football every fall. Sure it's unlikely that we're going to win on Saturday, but I gotta say the anticipation of a possible upset is the reason why I'm DVR'ing the game on Saturday so I can watch it after my softball game.

Panjandrum: I'm all about tempering expectations.  I really am.  I'm not expecting ten win seasons every year.  I understand that rebuilding takes time.

However, I do expect this team to be competitive every game.  I'm not okay with writing off X number of games per year (especially at home) because winning is such a long shot that it's not even rational to predict a win in any sort of fashion (i.e. this weekend).

mystman995: I didn't mean to be a downer, but that's all we seem to be talking about. Maybe instead of focusing on the negatives and the harsh reality of rebuilding  we can look at the positives.

EMAW: I'm not saying I don't expect us to win each time out, I just understand our situation right now. Like PJ, I expect the team to compete, and it makes me pissed off beyond belief when we lay an egg, but I won't be burning my K-State flag or aerating my yard with a Louisville Slugger if we drop a game to a top ten team. Yeah, I'll yell and threaten to throw things at the TV, but when it's said and done, I just want to see us improve as a whole each game. While I may be the eternal optimist, I try not to build my hopes too high. It's a delicate balance....

I was actually thinking about this the other day, would I be as obsessed with the athletic success of my alma mater if I had gone to somewhere like Akron, or UMKC? I don't think I would, just because they have no realistic shot at ever winning a national title in anything. I would want them to win and would attend games, but I probably wouldn't be upset if they went 0-25 in basketball. The possibility of national and conference championships and garnering national attention makes being a fan enjoyable. And, after writing that I think it makes me sound like a complete ass.

ksubailey: When you find some positives, please let me know.

EMAW: Well, one positive is that if our defense continues to give up running yards like they have been we won't be subjected to either a.) the 3-4 defense, or b.) Tibesar as our DC.

Panjandrum: I was young and impetuous.  I don't smash bats anymore.

What you said doesn't make you sound like an ass.  It's honest.  Anyone that attended KSU football games in the mid-to-late 80's or KU games in the mid-to-late 90's only did so because they didn't have anything better to do on a Saturday afternoon.  Folks can wave their "Better Fan" flag all over the place, but a sporting event is a competition, and if there's no competitiveness, there's no reason to show up.

These aren't my kids.  It's not like I'm going to watch a bunch of nine-year-olds play a crummy game of soccer to do my fatherly duty.  We all pay good money to go to these games, and if we're just going for the sake of going, we have too much expendable income, or we're just don't have better things to do on a Saturday.

ksubailey: These aren't my kids, but it is my school and I will support her
through thick and thin (even if we go back to being Futility U).  If
you like being a fan of something only when the team's winning all the
time, you'd be better off being a KU basketball fan with everyone
else.  While supporting my team in good times and bad, I also reserve
the right to criticize as much as I deem necessary while I wait for
improvement to come.  Hell, I put in 4 and a half good years of my
life, and a lot of money there - I can say what I want.  I eat, drink,
and sleep K-State sports and I have for a long time now.  It hurts
when we suck, but I'll keep letting it hurt until we're good again
because that's what good fans do.  It is about winning and
competition, but it's sticking it out through the bad times that make
the good times so great.  I'd never give up on K-State.  This might
seem like the "Better Fan" flag, but I think it's actually loyalty.

mystman995: I didn't mean to question people's fan-hood - just wanted to hear something positive about the Tech game. The main reason I love K-State football is because of the passion the fans bring to the game, even in the non-bowl years that I was there.

ksubailey: If I'm taking things out of context - I apologize.  I guess we're all just a little on edge due to the circumstances.  I'm sorry for my outburst.

Panjandrum: I should have done a better job of establishing context.

Currently, the seats that my father and I share cost nearly $800 for season tickets, and we sit in fairly modest seats in the East-side upper-deck.  As a recent college grad, that, combined with other costs (gas, beer, food in Manhattan, etc.), makes game days in Manhattan a pretty pricey hobby.

I can stand to pay that as long as I'm watching a program 'compete'.  By 'compete', I mean that the coaching staff puts together a competent game plan, the players give 100% on the field, and at the very least, I get to see my alma mater represented with pride and dignity.

Believe me; I've been there the last few years, and I've seen some piss poor football.  But, I've still gone to the games.  I've done so because I care, and because I was hoping, deep down, that I was watching the steps along the slow road back to respectability.

What I saw at the end of last season, and what I'm watching unfold right now, week by week, is not a competitive football program.  They are not coached competently.  And while they may be giving their 100% effort, it doesn't look like it when the defensive players slide of running backs like they're covered in Crisco.

Make no mistake; I am not a fair weather fan.  I will continue to support my university through thick and thin.  But if anyone thinks, for one second, that I'm going to continue to spend significant amounts of money to attend games coached like they have been in recent weeks, they've got another thing coming.

We are all on edge, but I will say this - there is no player or coach (even Bill Snyder) that I hold in a higher regard than Kansas State.  If I feel like a particular coach is doing Kansas State a disservice, I will use the only thing that I have in my power ($$$) to help make things right.  I did it before with Wooldridge, and I will do it again with Prince if it comes down to it.

When I said the clock was ticking, I wasn't being facetious.

EMAW: "It is about winning and competition, but it's sticking it out through the bad times that make the good times so great."

I couldn't agree more. I think the reason I couldn't imagine being obsessed with athletics if I attended a smaller school is because I have bled purple my whole life. I actually can't visualize what it would be like to support any other school. Those of us who've experienced how good this program can be (i.e. every K-State fan over the age of 6) are just agitated because of the current state of things. I think we are all in agreement about our obsession (for lack of a better term) with K-State sports, and how that will never change. It can all just sometimes come across wrong with the angst and frustration lurking overhead. No matter if we win by 20 or lose by 70 I'll still have the DVR going and the beer flowing.
 
A bad day as a Wildcat is still better than a national championship (no matter how illegal) as a Jayhawk.

Panjandrum: Regardless of what happens, I'll always listen on the radio, and I'll always watch on TV when given the opportunity.  However, I'm probably more 'militant' than the average fan.  No, it's not endearing, but it is what it is.

There will never be a day when I become completely oblivious to KSU.  Never.  However, I will withdraw funds in protest.  That may seem screwed up and twisted in some way, but I care too damn much, and it's the strongest statement a guy like me can make.

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