So, we've finally made it to the season's end.
The bowl games have been announced, the matchups have been set and we can finally take a good look back at what was (as always) a wild and crazy college football season.
And without a doubt, that idea was certainly personified within Georgia Tech's 2011 football season. Right now, though, I'm struggling to understand a few things here at the season's end.
GT fans aren't happy right now. To be fair, I wasn't exactly thrilled with the way the season went, but some "fans" are calling for the heads of Paul Johnson and/or Al Groh. My question to these people is: What exactly did you expect?
Georgia Tech football officially ended up doing BETTER than what most of the preseason predictions said we would. We were predicted to finish fourth in the ACC Coastal. We finished tied for second.
Many expected a 7-5 season out of the Jackets. A nine-win season is still within reach. I find it rather funny that five years ago, most GT fans would have been thrilled with an eight-win regular season.
But the funny part is, these same fans who are being rather outspoken right now are only aggravated because of how Paul Johnson has changed the culture of Georgia Tech football. As fans, we aren't satisfied with an eight-win or a nine-win season anymore, because we've seen more. We aren't satisfied because the team and the coaches aren't satisfied.
The great irony of the situation is that people are wanting to get rid of what is possibly the best thing to happen to Georgia Tech football since Bobby Dodd himself coached the team.
Anyway, now that my rant on that particular subject is finished, let's get into actually looking back at the season.
Ultimately, when thinking of one word to describe the 2011 Georgia Tech Football team, I think the best word that comes to mind is "inconsistent."
I've already made clear that in my view, the Jackets have made marked improvement over the 2010 squad that went 6-6. However, it is never a good thing if you can sit and wonder "what if" about a football team. And that is unfortunately exactly what you will do when looking back at this Georgia Tech team.
What if the team hadn't started hot? The Jackets were one of the hottest teams in the nation for the first half of the season. Getting off to their best start since 1966, our offense was clicking more than ever before.
That was never more emphasized than in the 66-24 beat-down of Kansas, in which the Jackets broke multiple NCAA and team records. This is a "what if" that we are fortunate didn't happen. The fast start is what ultimately kept this season from being a failure.
However, there are other "what ifs."
What if the team had managed just one field goal in the second half against UVA? What if the special teams didn't have a meltdown against Miami? What if we hadn't gotten the "punch heard round the college football world" against Virginia Tech?
These are the "what ifs" that, when looking back, are going to leave a sour taste in your mouth.
A team good enough to beat down Orange Bowl-contender and ACC Champions Clemson was poor enough to let a bad Miami team completely shut them down. A team that scored 42 points in the second half against Kansas could barely manage a first down in the second half against Virginia.
Now, I know there are other factors to these games. But it doesn't change the ultimate fact that what this season does leave Jackets fans with is a desire for more.
Unfortunately, what has become a common mantra here in Atlanta is, "Well, there is always next year."
Right now, we are left to say that yet again. Indeed, there is hope, but a young and inexperienced team will have to get better.