Are the Huskers "back"?
This is the hot topic in Husker circles. But what exactly does it mean to be "back"? Is it consistent 10-win seasons and top 10 finishes? Big 12 championships? BCS appearances? Our peers' renewed envy and hatred?
It's a slippery definition, but we'll know it when we feel it.
But this post isn't about reasonable expectations. It's about reasonable hope—actually, one particular type of hope that Husker fans once took for granted.
It wasn't terribly long ago that Husker fans had a perennial hope that the team would win all its games and contend for the national title.
That hope was usually grounded in reality; some years it bordered on expectation.
It felt like the natural order of things and that it would always be that way. Sure, Florida State might step up and wreck things early in the season, or Oklahoma might do so later on. But the point was that even though perfection was rare, going into the season there was no ceiling. The realistic best-case scenario was almost always an undefeated season and a national title.
But 2010 will be different.
The Huskers probably won't go undefeated, but for the first time in years, they might . It will not be insane or indefensible to hope that the team will win all its games. It is again the realistic best-case scenario, and the odds of it happening are finally better than winning the Powerball.
Why is it reasonable to hope for perfection in 2010?
The Huskers will likely be favored in every game they play. They will begin the season in the Top 10 and have road tests at Washington and Oklahoma State and difficult matchups with Texas and Missouri in Lincoln.
Again, I'm not suggesting that an undefeated season in 2010 is a reasonable expectation. It's not. But once again, at last, it's OK to hope for it.