Nearing 3 years now -- and in the Daily Quickie before that -- a running theme of this blog has been the importance of expectations management.
It is even arguable that it is the most powerful force in sports.
Without a tremendously strong lead story today for today's SN column -- just couldn't get 250-words excited about Pitino or Pedro or the PGA -- it felt like we had at least a half-dozen strong examples of expectations at work:
*Pedro: Classic expectations management. He was just fine. And that is a huge win for Philly.
*Pitino: Apologize "quickly" (after 6 years of lying). Critics may gripe, but the school isn't doing anything to him. I mean, come on: Mark Sanford still has a job.
*Tiger at the PGA: Anything less than a championship is a failure.
*Vick: James Brown was totally softening up folks for the results of his "hard-hitting" (please) interview running on Sunday.
*Vick, Cont'd: Teams are waiting for the Big Redemption meme to kick in on Monday morning; at that point, you should see a couple teams angling -- publicly -- to land him.
*Tom Brady: Playing tonight! But probably for, like, three snaps.
*Notre Dame: This may have inspired the entire lead today. Joe Montana thinks that expectations are too high for Notre Dame to be a national-level contender.
He's right, of course: The team, especially under Weis, is mediocre. Montana blames the academic standards -- HA HA HA...oh, please -- but the fact is, Notre Dame enjoys more brand advantages than any team in college football. At least, until they start being mediocre enough that 17-year-old recruits' oldest memory of ND is them being mediocre. That's happening now.
Can you imagine Urban Meyer accepting low expectations for Notre Dame? Even at Florida -- simply being a fan of ND -- Meyer is probably throwing up in his mouth a little.
If Notre Dame has no aspirations -- or expectations -- of being a national powerhouse, year in and year out, they have no business enjoying the perks of being part of the BCS -- that clearing some minimum (but apparently too-high-for-Weis) hurdle of wins automatically puts them in the BCS, while non-BCS teams that would wax ND struggle to get BCS traction.
It is all summed up in the way I distilled Montana's new slogan for his alma mater: "Play like a bowl-eligible team today."
Tons more in the column -- it's actually fairly loaded. Including:
*Why Matt Barkley might steal Aaron Corp's job at USC.
*Why Jeremy Tyler is better off in Israel than college.
*Why Florida's schedule isn't as puffy as critics say.
*Why the Angels are quietly the best team in the AL.
And a lot more. Complete column here. More later, including...links for this year's Daily Quickie Readers groups of the Pigskin Pick 'Em AND the College Pick 'Em!