Friday, November 11, 2005

What are the criteria for a successful season?

When I was an undergraduate, I decided that the Trojans must accomplish two of three objectives before I would consider a football season successful: beat Notre Dame; beat UCLA; and go to the Rose Bowl. Incidentally, by these criteria USC never had a successful season while I was an undergraduate due to the unfortunate coincidence of two devastating streaks: eight straight losses to UCLA from 1991 to 1998 (the four that I saw were all very painful, but USC is making up for it now with a six-game winning streak starting in 1999) and Notre Dame’s 13-game unbeaten streak against USC from 1983 to 1995 (the 1994 game was a tie). I was at the last game of the ND streak.

In my mind the criteria has shifted. The Trojans must accomplish two objectives in order to have what I would consider a successful season: 1) go to a BCS bowl game; and 2) beat either Notre Dame, UCLA, or both. USC could finish with an 11-2 record and win a BCS bowl, but if they were to lose to Notre Dame and UCLA, it would not be completely happy about the season. Obviously, the likelihood of losing to both rivals and still going to a BCS game is very low, so I expect that scenario to be rare.

I would be interested to know what fans of other major programs believe are the criteria for a successful season at their schools.

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