Identity Versus Talent

Talent definitely wins championships. But a sense of returning identity is the best indicator of how strong a college football team will be, in this time of preseason prognostication. Florida and BAMA were picked in preseason last year to play for the SEC Title. I instead looked at Florida without the great Tebow as a team facing an identity crisis. They did and they struggled and lost often. BAMA had only two returning defensive starters from a National Champion that was built on D. They finished third in the SEC West and 2nd in their state. We knew Cam was good; we just didn’t yet know he was already a professional while playing for Auburn. The NCAA Cam hammer is yet to drop on the Plains, where those wins will probably be vacated like what eventually happened to also-cheats Ohio State and USC. The players around Cam were mostly seniors – they had a strong sense of Aubie identity, and they won it all. LSU and Arkansas had talented upperclassmen leadership and good years. This year, Arkansas is without Knile Davis and Ryan Mallett, and you don’t lose that type of production and get stronger. LSU has just lost their senior running threat at QB, after losing their top skill guy. Miss State is good and has been growing but has never been great. South Carolina lost five games in one of their best years ever. Tennessee only won regularly after they reached the always soft back half of their schedule. UGA’s identity was tied to a running game and AJ Green last year. For much of the season, we had neither. Ole Miss, Vandy, Kentucky can’t identify themselves as winners. Identity. That is the key. And that is why it is so crucial that UGA win early, because the Dawgs have yet to identify with Aaron Murray as a winning quarterback. Beat Boise and Carolina and that winning identity will crystalize again in Athens. As my dearly departed father once said to me, “Losing is contagious…so is winning.”