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FSU Football 2010: Expectations Versus Goals

The GOAL of the 2010 FSU football team is to steamroll through our first 11 opponents including OU and UM, be undefeated when the Gators head into the Doak and punish them by taking out 6 years worth of frustration on their slimy reptilian hides. Then we should win the ACC championship game by pummeling whichever ACC Coastal team has the misfortune of facing us in early December, and then humiliate our opponent in the MNC game (preferably a SEC team), in front of the largest ever TV audience to watch a college football game, thus having everyone in the country singing our praises and saying "The Noles Are Finally Back." 

14-0 should be our GOAL not only for 2010, but for every football season.

OK 'nuff said, but what are our EXPECTATIONS for the 2010 FSU Seminoles?

Everyone of us has a different idea about what will constitute a successful 2010 FSU football season. Many times our expectations are determined by blind homerism, where we perceive where we should be, or where we feel we, as Noles, deserve to be.

All too often expectations are confused with goals and this can cause disillusionment with our team at the end of the season when unrealistic expectations are not met.

Many people tend to use the words Goals and Expectations somewhat interchangeably. If you confuse the goals and expectations for our Noles for the 2010 season, you are probably setting yourself up for disappointment, heartache, and you risk becoming demoralized with your team and your coach(es).

All too often we tend to shy away from setting realistic expectations. Many times this is due to the more negative perception of the word expectations, than that of word goals.  Therefore, we may try to soften the blow by substituting goals with expectations.

So what is the difference between goals and expectations? 

A goal is a specific, measurable, outcome-oriented activity or target to which you commit your efforts and you strive and work towards. It is the result of or an achievement toward which an effort is aimed. A goal is something that one would like to achieve sometime in the future, something to aim for, and something you put all your efforts to try to achieve.

An expectation is a specific, reasonable, measurable, minimum standard of performance to which you commit your efforts. An expectation could be viewed as trust, anticipation, or having a degree of confidence that a certain attainable result will occur. Something that is hoped for, yet may or may not necessarily see fruition.

Both goals and expectations should be achievable, but expectations must be realistically attainable and doable. That does not mean that they have to be easy, but without realistic expectations you are doomed to failure. Goals on the other hand, should stretch people more than expectations. They too should still be achievable even if it takes a Herculean effort to meet them.

Based solely on these definitions, a goal and an expectation may seem very similar, however there are some key differences. Goals are either achieved or they’re not achieved. Expectations however, may be met or exceeded with varying levels of performance as you work towards your goal.

We here at TN believe and preach in setting realistic and attainable expectations for our 2010 season, and we believe and preach that our return to dominance will be a process, and that the process >>(is greater than) the immediate results. We preach that FSU football is a work in progress, and that our return to relevance will not happen overnight, and it could possibly take a few years to see the results that we all want after a decade of neglect and mediocrity.

With all that said, I recently came across the following article that sparked an epiphany and is the inspiration for this story. That, as well as some of the predictions I have read and heard about from delusional Seminole fans, although most here at TN seem to be a rational bunch.  

The following article is titled On Expectations and was authored by Ed Gunther who runs The National Championship Issue.  As as I explored the archives of his work, I was fascinated and impressed by the analysis, work, and the effort Ed puts into his articles. I contacted Ed and asked for his permission to reprint this story instead of just linking it, since much of what he writes coincides with much of what Bud and the authors on this site believe and preach on a daily basis.  I also asked Ed if I could edit his story somewhat to bring it up to date since it was published last September, make it more FSU relevant, and eliminate the other conferences and teams from this story.  Ed was gracious enough to allow me to reprint and edit it as requested.  After you finish reading this story and when you have some time, I encourage everyone to please check out his site. Also, you can expect to see some of his other stories referenced here in the near future as I feel like a kid in a candy shop, and I have found a few more story ideas that I plan to write about soon.

Please hit the jump to get to the meat and potatoes of this story.
Please remember that I have deleted all the conferences and teams since Ed's story did not have the 2009-10 results. I have only edited FSU's record to reflect the 2009, 2008, and 2007 seasons, and I placed FSU in both level 4 and level 5. For all the other ACC teams I estimated what level they should be at, but I welcome differing opinions based on the criteria described in Ed's story below.  To see the complete list  from last season with all the teams and conferences, click on the link below. 

On Expectations

Last week I wrote that part of the problem with USC and Ohio State's recent losses is that expectations for their programs are way too high, and overall, I think expectations are way too high for most programs out there. There's so much disappointment, from both fans and the media, when teams lose that it's getting ridiculous. Cal was supposed to be able to get over the hump this year. Ole Miss was supposed to be able to compete for the SEC and maybe a national title this year. We get so bent out of shape when things don't go the way we expect them to that it sours all of the great things that our teams do accomplish.

It's worth pointing out the very important distinctions between expectations and goals. There's absolutely nothing wrong with setting the goal of winning the national championship, for any team (yes, including Duke). It's good to aim high, if only to give your program some direction, and I have no problem with any team setting the highest goals. But expectations must be grounded in reality. If they're not, not only does it cause unnecessary heartache but it also puts the focus on what hasn't happened as opposed to what has. Dreams are nice, but accepting reality can be oh-so comforting.

So in order to help you see where the bar should be set for your team, I present to you Gunther's Levels of Realistic Expectations. The basic premise is extremely simple:

1) Look at what your team has achieved in the last three seasons. That's as far back as you get to go, mainly because teams change, having up and down seasons all the time. No more living in the past, all you teams who won championships when your parents and grandparents were young - you've got to let that go if you're going to be happy and accept the present. You can give preference to the previous year, but beware - one good season does not a juggernaut the next year make.

2) Compare your teams record to the general list of achievements below. Your team's bar is set one level higher than their achievement of the past three years - that's it. Any higher and you're setting yourself up for massive disappointment.

It's as easy as that. Let's take a look at the levels, starting from the ground up. Each team's last three seasons are listed, including records, conference championships ("CC"), and bowl (result), separated by "/" marks.

A Losing Season (Level 0): You know the teams, the ones who are perennially bad every year. They're the cupcakes everyone wants on their schedule, willing to travel large distances for large sums of money so that their opponents can score large amounts of points. This is the ground level.

A .500 season (Level 1) - No matter what you've done in the past, or no matter how awful you've been, every team has the right to expect a decent season and can be justifiably upset if they don't reach the first level. For the 2009 season, teams that should set this as their goal are:

ACC- Duke, Maryland?

Going to a bowl game (Level 2) - Usually reserved for the decent and better BCS teams and the good to great non-BCS teams, bowls are still a special achievement that give a team more time to practice, prepare, and prove themselves on the field. Teams that should set this as their goal are:

ACC-Wake Forest, NCST, UVA?

Winning a bowl game (Level 3) - Getting to the game is nice, but winning it gives you a boost that can last a whole off-season.




Conference Championship (Level 5) - In an age where conferences are gaining more and more importance and standing, winning your conferences is a major feat.

ACC - Florida State:  7-6, Music City (L) / 9-4, Champs (W) / 7-6, Gator (W)


10-Win Season (Level 4) - Double-digit victory seasons are a great accomplishment and show a consistent level of good play throughout the season.

ACC - Florida State:  7-6, Music City (L) / 9-4, Champs (W) / 7-6, Gator (W)

There are some teams who should shoot for either Level 3 or 4, a bowl win or a 10-win season - either one works since they've had neither the last two years.

ACC - Miami, GT?

BCS Bowl Game (Level 6) - This goes along with a conference championship for the BCS teams, but there's still non-BCS teams and at-large spots to consider. Getting picked for one of these not only means that you're good but you've got pizzaz (television and fan appeal) too.

ACC - Florida State:  7-6, Music City (L) / 9-4, Champs (W) / 7-6, Gator (W) if we win the ACCCG.


There's also a few teams who haven't been able to get over the hump in the big BCS bowls. These are the teams that should shoot for a BCS bowl win:

ACC -Clemson, Boston College


National Championship Game (Level 7) - the second highest level, if you can make it to the top 2 in the BCS rankings, you've had one hell of a season.

ACC - Virginia Tech: 


National Title (Level 8) - the top of the ladder, the pinnacle, the mountain that everyone's team can climb in their dreams. But this is reality. Only one team this year is allowed to be disappointed if they don't win it.


Now that we've gotten all that settled, let me make some things clear.

These placements of teams aren't set in stone, and they're not meant to be. The levels are simply a guide to where your team stands based on what they've accomplished recently. Should Ohio State expect to win the national championship based on their recent history? No - a much more suitable expectation would be a BCS win. Should Miami be upset if they don't make it to the title game? No - a suitable expectation would be a conference championship or 10-win season.

I'm not saying that you can't have really high goals for your team. I'm saying that you're not allowed to whine and be upset when they don't reach them or meet your too-high expectataions. That's just annoying and nobody wants to listen to you moan and groan when there's probably lots of teams who didn't fare as well as yours this year. Just try to be happy at what your team does accomplish this year, especially if they reach a higher level than they have in the last few years.

And remember - there's always next year.

Something I've learned and I preach in business is to review and adjust your expectations on a regular basis, while still "keeping your eye on the prize" or "goals."  This is probably a good idea for us to keep in mind and consider doing as the season plays out, since things could very well change during the course of the season due to injuries, over-performance, or other intangibles, and there is no rule in place that the expectations you set at the start of the season can not be adjusted accordingly due to changing circumstances. Also in business, the best strategy is to under promise and over deliver. That's might be a good idea and something we should consider when setting our expectations for the 2010 football season as well.

Always remember that Jimbo's, the players, and ours as Seminole Alumni and fans, goal,should always be to win another national championship, once again, and as soon as possible.  But at the same time, you must set your expectations accordingly and realistically, then you will be able sit back and enjoy the ride without the disappointment, heartache, and the disillusionment that will accompany having unrealistic expectations for our 2010 FSU Seminole football team.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Ed once again for allowing us to reprint and edit his story to make it more FSU specific.  Also, please remember to check out Ed's work at The National Championship Issue soon and as the season approaches.