Of course every fan, team and coach goes into the preseason expecting, or at least hoping, for great things from their team.
There’s always an element of luck involved for the ball to roll your way, the other teams to create all manner of mistakes, and for your team to get ranked and move up to BCS greatness.
Other teams have a Cinderella existence, with no real schedule, but still wins get the exaltation of the media and the BCS; Boise State and Oregon are cases in point.
The Auburn Tigers started out that way, given that they were defending national champions, and many of the returning players had been imbued with the karma of the 2010 season, at least in the eyes of some media and some fans.
But, who are we kidding here? There were 18-24 starters gone—I can never get the number straight—many of whom were the key creators of that 2010 season moving on to the NFL, and in their place was a bunch of unseasoned freshmen, all of whom had never set foot in an SEC game, let alone a college game.
This was the plight, or opportunity, that head coach Gene Chizik and his staff was presented with for the 2011 season.
Chizik, being the realist that he is, set out to have a team improve as the season progressed. The press and the rankings meant little, because Coach Chizik is in it for the long haul and rebuilding around his program was the key. Goals are different from season to season.
Did he accomplish this? Yes. Did he intend to win championships this year? No, but this is where the track was headed from the preseason and why the Tigers are on track to meet their goal this season of being the "most improved team" from the preseason to bowl game.