The mood here on Block U is understandably bleak. Our Utes were two days away from getting a crack at Oregon and the Rose Bowl. All they had to do was get past the worst team in the Pac-12, and then wait and see ASU flop and UCLA get pounded. Then the Utes came out flat and terrible, got some terrible injuries, missed some chip shot field goals, and lost a game that they had no business losing. Sure enough, ASU and UCLA performed down to expectations, and Ute fans were on the outside looking in.
Some have called for coaching changes, others benchings, and a Facebook friend of mine called for the kicker's head. Ute fans are lining up on the ledge and ready to jump.
I just wanted to say 'don't'.
Football is a game played on a razor's edge. A few tiny turns of fate decide the difference between a terrible and a mediocre season, between a great team and a merely good one. Look back to our most recent great team, the 2008 Utes. They tore down great opponents, ripped through their schedule, and wound up ranked 2nd in the nation. An indisputably great team.
Think about how close that team came to being merely good, though. Think of what a few passes falling incomplete against TCU would have meant for that season... or if you prefer a closer comparison to 2011, a fumbled snap on the last punt against New Mexico.
The point isn't that this year's team was as good as the 2008 team; they weren't. The point is that when a field goal or three goes wide right, or your QB goes down with an injury, or your back-up running back coughs it up after a 9 yard gain with 5 minutes to go (that was the worst part for me), it doesn't mean that the team sucked, or the coach needs a firing. It means those twists of fate that made a team great in one year went for the opponent this year. It's what's so great about sports: the never knowing what will happen next.
At the beginning of the year, we tended to predict, on average, 8 or 9 wins if everything went according to plan and luck broke our way. It didn't, and we wound up with 7 regular season wins. Them's the breaks. The team came in and stood strong in a BCS conference, showing that they had the athletes, coaches, and will to compete and be in the game every Saturday. That's not a great season, but it's a season the Utes and their fans can be proud of. I know I am.
It doesn't make me the most competitive guy in the world, I know. But it's okay, sometimes, to have to sit back and say "We'll get 'em next year."