Zemek Thought: The Teams That Quickly Changed

Posted Sep 10, 2012

Week 2 Thoughts: Zemek on the perceptions of teams that quickly changed

- Fiutak: The Four Four
- Cirminiello: The Magic Of Bill Snyder
- Harrison Thought: The Big Ten's Bad Weekend
- Johnson Thought: The Pac-12 Breaks Through

By Matt Zemek

Texas A&M and Kevin Sumlin looked like the wave of the future in the SEC - until they appeared utterly powerless in an impotent second-half performance against Florida, one that felt a lot like the Mike Sherman era.

Missouri looked ready to challenge for the SEC East - until it fell apart in the final 20 minutes of regulation and suffered due to quarterback James Franklin's below-average level of ball security, as was the case for much of the 2011 season.

Vanderbilt's culture and identity were different this year – trust us, REALLY… until a second straight loss in 2012, this one against a Northwestern team that shouldn't have been able to match up with the Commodores. For all of head coach James Franklin's recruiting, Vanderbilt sure seems like the same not-quite-there-yet program fans have gotten used to over many decades.

Miami was ready to be viewed as a resurgent program, but the Hurricanes' blowout loss at Kansas State shows that they were 1-0 merely because they played Boston College. Kansas State was about to be downgraded this season, but the Wildcats' romp over the Hurricanes shows that they shouldn't be written off so early or easily. Their 2011 season can't yet be seen as a neat and tidy aberration.

If you were optimistic about North Carolina State before the season began, it's hard to maintain that same belief in the Wolfpack after two very discouraging performances. Tom O'Brien has to prove that he can deliver the goods before pundits can pronounce that the Wolfpack have changed their stripes.

Army, with a veteran team and some seasoned skill people, figured to have a great chance to upset the balance of power in the world of the service academies this season, but a disastrous opener at San Diego State has quashed those hopes for the time being.

These are all instances in which appreciably large subsections of the college football community – not outright majorities or pluralities, but groups big enough to notice – were ready to re-write the prevailing narratives at a given program, only to see the storyline revert to a familiar position in a relatively short period of time. It could very well be that Wisconsin's and Arkansas's narratives have indeed changed in week two, but even then, the character of teams can and does change in the volatile month of September.

Let the identity of a college football team take at least a few more weeks to harden into something (more) solid. Even then, more changes await in late October and early November. It's a long season; don't change the script until the course of events makes it clear that a shift has in fact occurred.