This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
Our final post in the EA sponsored "Where I Come From" series, and today we're talking expectations.
The funny thing about Kansas' situation is a new coach often throws expectations completely out of whack. Typically when you have a new coach it's likely because someone didn't work out, the program needed a change and things were headed in the wrong direction.
Take away the disappointment of 2009 and that really wasn't the case with Kansas. Mark Mangino had the program playing at a level it hadn't in over a decade, the recruiting classes and talent on the roster appeared to be building and then the seven game skid to finish 2009 occurred.
Exit Mangino, enter Gill. Now we have a situation where part of the fanbase is optimistic, excited about Gill and ready to talk 7-5 or 8-4. Then you have a contingent who doesn't feel good about the way things transpired, remains skeptical of the change and is taking a prove it to me attitude which is certainly understandable. Standing on that side of the fence, expectations might fall in the 4-8 range.
At this point, there are valid arguments on both sides. The amount of unknowns make it very difficult and expectations become are about as varying as the person you might ask on any given day.
My take is this, Kansas football is definitely in a better position now than they were when the last coaching change took place. With that in mind, I'm not expecting the team to tank. Kansas has a higher caliber of talent on the roster, the energy in the program has seen a resurgence with a fresh start and it's quite simply a matter of whether or not a team pulling in the same direction is enough to overcome some major losses and some serious question marks.
Fortunately Kansas' conference slate takes a swing toward the easier side of things, but the first four games will set the tone. My hope is that the Jayhawks can get out of conference play with a 3-1 record and a little bit of confidence. From there Kansas needs to beat Kansas State and Colorado at home, then find one more win in Memorial Stadium between the Oklahoma State or Texas A&M games.
With that, Kansas is 6-6 at worst and my expectation at this point is 6-6. I'm not willing to accept sub par football and I just can't seem to allow myself to set the bar lower than .500.
At the same time, I believe there will be growing pains, the team will struggle to replace the loss of Reesing, Meier and Briscoe and the team will find serious needs and holes that remain unfilled. Because of that, I can't put myself in the ideal world of a comfortable bowl bid.
6-6, that's my expectation. If Gill can manage that, I'll remain positive. Don't get me wrong though, I'll gladly take an 8-4 or 9-3 if we want to shock the world. And if Gill can manage that, I'll jump on whatever bandwagon he wants to drive.