Zemek Thought: Don't Worry About Week 1

Posted Sep 3, 2012

Week 1 Thought: Zemek on why week one doesn't really matter

CFN Analysis 

Zemek Thought, Sept. 5

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Week 1 Thoughts 
- Fiutak: Bring on Savannah State!
- Cirminiello: Oregon & Kelly keep on rolling 
- Zemek: It's not time for top teams to worry ... yet
- Harrison: Penn State and Ohio State, welcome to your new eras
- Mitchell: SEC East stumbles 
- Johnson: The ACC's rocky opener   

By Matt Zemek

Can we calm down a little bit? It's only week one.

It's true that the start of a season will heighten anxieties and raise some alarm bells. It's true that college football teams face urgent challenges when they move from week one to week two. It's extremely important for coaching staffs to get on top of problems and adjust to what they see in their first live game, followed by their first Sunday film study session. Yet, these problems can be overplayed and overblown.

Assessing a college football team after week one is a process which blends science and art. It's certainly informed by evidence and data, but the act also requires a considerable degree of feel. The circumstances are different for each team and program; digging through the details and moving through tunnels of context will eventually lead to the light of greater clarity… sometimes with great speed, other times not until November. It all depends on the particulars.

One might think that the program itself is reason enough to apply different standards to different teams, but even that approach – based on reputation – requires more specificity. Oklahoma and Florida are both big-name programs, but many seasoned football people would probably view the Sooners and Gators differently after one game.

Oklahoma would probably get the benefit of the doubt, a "don't worry too much just yet" response, based not on its brand name but on the fact that Bob Stoops is its head coach. Stoops has proven himself time and again, to the point where early-season issues shouldn't be seen as evidence of a full-fledged crisis.

Will Muschamp, on the other hand, has never shown the nation that he is cut out to be an elite head coach. What's happening with Florida's offense (just 14 first downs against Bowling Green at home) gives credence to the view that Muschamp is in over his head. Maybe he isn't, but the larger point is hard to refute on an emotional level if not an intellectual one: Stoops deserves more leeway than Boom Boom right now; accordingly, Oklahoma should be viewed with less concern than Florida.

What about other teams? Georgia settled down last year after two early losses. The Bulldogs are a work in progress. Michigan got eviscerated… by an elite opponent. Let's not say that Michigan is a bad team that has lost its way; a quality opponent made the Wolverines look deficient.

Wait until the Big Ten season to express reservations about the Maize and Blue. California has been drifting in mediocrity for years. Losing at home to Nevada in a distinctly disjointed performance should be enough to proclaim "CRISIS!" in Berkeley. Strawberry Canyon is one place in America where the sky actually IS falling, and the cry of wolf rings true, after just one game.

Berkeley, though, is the exception that proves the rule. Analyze responsibly after week one of a college football season. Friends don't let friends prematurely panic.