What I do not aim to do here is defend a team that lost two thirds of its games and looked generally miserable on the field. What I do aim to do here is wrestle with a subtle ideology of empathy for a team who was truly down on their luck.
The question for today is simple: How bad was this 4-8 team?
My initial inclination is to say, "They're about 4 wins and 8 losses, no bowl game bad." But that's not the depth of analysis and opinion that got me this contract, so let us dig deeper. This team did not play an uncompetitive game save for Texas this season, and reasonably should have one at least two, maybe three more. (Kansas St., WVU, and your pick of OU/BU). I do not think I am shocking anyone when I say that the defense kept us competitive.
The losses that really hurt were Kansas State and West Virginia, and were those won, we'd be looking at a bowl eligible team who was two last minute drives away from being an 8 win team. I am aware of the immense conjecture I'm spitting right now, but also, that observation begs the question of how bad this team really was.
The thing that really came between the Frogs and mediocrity (bowl-eligibility) was not luck, per se, but it was the little things - a tipped pass against Baylor in the waning seconds, too much time on the clock versus Kansas State, the ref show to end all ref shows in Lubbock, an LSU redo on a kick before halftime - little breaks that just changed the overall flow of the games.
Plenty of teams have been miserable on one side of the ball and reached mediocrity. The Frogs' defense alone should have put them in a bowl this year, were it not for the little breaks that prevented the offense from closing. Their strategy for the whole year was to let the defense keep it close and then hope that the offense could string together just one drive at the end of the game to win it (I mean, it didn't not work, right? Except for Texas, the offense always had a shot to win it, no?).
This is a team who was put in position to win again and again and failed to do so. How bad was this Frogs' team? I'd venture to say their persistence in games they should have lost all season shows that, were it not for a few breaks, they were truly a mediocre, playing in a December bowl, team.
Let's all vow never to speak of this year again.
Raising a glass to a new offense, a new season, and the Horned Frogs,