If I would have told you before the season that a rebuilding Arizona State football program had a legitimate chance at going 7-5, how many of you would have laughed in my face and/or questioned if I was on bath salts?
I think that "a majority of the college football watching human race" is probably a fair assessment.
So please tell me why with a 5-5 record and two very winnable games left on tap is Sun Devil nation so quick to express their disappointment?
I'll tell you why: because of those damn, meddling schedule makers!
If the Devils were 5-5 but just won and lost games in normal succession like any other average, middle-of-the-pack program, fans would be perfectly content with the job Todd Graham has done. Instead, ASU is handed a laughably easy start to their conference schedule to inflate everyone's expectations (including my own). Then, just when everyone is riding high and most vulnerable to a huge emotional letdown, they dish out the most difficult second half schedule that I can remember in all my time watching Arizona State.
Not helping the matter was that the wounds from 2011's epic meltdown weren't even fully healed by the time Oregon began swiftly kicking ASU in the balls with the sledgehammer of reality (Graphic, I know but I've never been too graceful with my metaphors).
Perhaps if the sting of last year's face plant wasn't still so fresh in fans' minds, this season's turn of events wouldn't have been so doubly devastating. But with everyone believing that their prayers for a new, more fruitful era of Sun Devil football had been answered early, the maroon and gold faithful was understandably crushed. One might say that it was the perfect storm of overflowing optimism and an all-too-familiar false bravado.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't some misguided attempt at a coping mechanism. I'm just desperately trying to remind fans to step back and reassess the situation before they jump ship for good.
If you switch the date of the UCLA game with the Utah home opener and maybe sub the USC game with Colorado, the downfall is mitigated and ASU's fan base isn't once again in "the sky is falling" mode. Nevertheless, that was the hand the Devils were dealt and if they were good enough, they would have handled their business.
Looking ahead, I truly do believe that the Devils will get to that 7-5 record which seemed so improbable only a few months ago. Washington State is just the pick-me-up these gentlemen need to remember they're not as bad as their recent losing streak suggests. And when they regain the fortitude that they featured earlier in the season, I fully believe they will storm into Tucson and show the Wildcats that they're the class of this new era of collegiate football in Arizona.
Hopefully then the maroon and gold faithful will not be so trigger-happy with their cries of criticism next time around. Because although most might not realize it yet, this season is still far from over.