But before I get to the list of reasons let me tell you what motivated me to put it together. As a self-admitted diehard Navy fan who was indoctrinated into Midshipmen football in the George Chaump era in the mid 1990s, I approach every game the same way: Expect to lose; Be Happy if it is close; and Get silly if we win. After four years of losing to Army by a combined seven points in my four years at USNA, I carried that mentality with me through the next several years.
However, with all of the success Navy football has enjoyed in the past few years, my approach changed a bit. In other words, I got spoiled. Now, when I look at the opponents on the 4-4-4 schedule, I immediately assume we will beat the lower tiered teams. This year I believe those should-win games are
Sure, at the end of the season, East Carolina could be looked at in the rearview mirror as a toss-up game and SMU as one of the four toughest games, but my point is that Maryland will always remain in the ‘oh, it would be nice to win' category. Therefore, to me, I can rationalize that not everything is on the line for this game.
As Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo likes to remind everyone, on the field each season is different. Well the same is true about the off-season. Expectations are at an all-time high in
9. Jeff Sagarin knows all: According to the USA Today computer ranking guru, Air Force is rated six slots higher than Navy in his preseason index. And since this rating "is the numerical measure of a team's strength" – even though nobody has played a game yet, the Mids must be in for a long year. Sure,
8. Fear the Turtle: I had the unique displeasure of seeing a snapping turtle up close this summer and those things are scary – way more scary than the meanest goat I have ever seen. If the battle for the state of
7. Slots of production in openers: In the last three season openers for Navy, slot backs had big games in the two victories (
6. Fridge on the Hot Seat: It's win or go home time for embattled
5. Navy as a favorite: In the past 58 games as a road underdog, Navy is 42-16 against the spread. When I think of Navy as a favorite, I get visions of
4. 10 wins and 10 losses: A lot of people are looking at
3. Stop the run: If I'm Friedgen and I see that Navy has four new starters at linebacker and are giving up 50 lbs per lineman, I just run Scott and Davin Meggett all day long. If Navy can't stop the running game, they will not win. (How long until GoMids.com posters start pleading with Navy to get a pass rush?)
2. He's no Charlie Brown:
1. Losing this game could be good for Navy: From Ricky Dobbs winning the Heisman to the Mids playing in the Rose Bowl, the pre-season hype is in complete overdrive. The "Expect to Win" motto has taken on a whole new meaning at Navy. In the past the slogan was a way to help build confidence for an under-sized team that was being told they couldn't win. Now, the experts are expecting Navy to win. However, Navy fans all know that the Mids are notoriously slow starters who usually take a few games before they are humming. (Ok, it took about a half of football last season.) And Navy is also known for having a game or two each season that just somehow manages to get away from them. Maybe if the Mids get a little dose of humble pie by the Terps in the opener it will serve them well for the remainder of the season.
To repeat - because I'm sure there will be plenty of fans who will think I am predicting disaster for the Mids on Labor Day - this is how I am able to mentally prepare for a game…and a season full of hype. I expect very little and am thrilled for anything over 6-6. For some, an 8-4 record for Navy will be a disappointing season. I'll take that right now. And if you are a Navy fan with any perspective, you would too. So as you sit down next Monday to watch the Crab Bowl, remember that beating
Ok, I lied…after looking at the schedule again, I think I'd take a 9-3 season and be happy. Man, but Dobbs is so good…and Murray is a bruiser…Tuani is a beast…Middleton is a star…maybe 10 wins…ah never mind…is it Monday yet?