You have already mentally lost.
Auburn goes up 20 points in Baton Rouge like they were suppose to. Auburn has more talent than LSU on every side of the ball. There is no way that LSU should have been in that game, and the first half proved it. But what happened after LSU was beaten? What was it that changed the course and outcome of the game? Auburn started playing not to lose, rather than continuing to play to win .
This is the same thing that happened the week before. Some AU fans got upset with me, because I was very unhappy with the fact that we did not score a single touchdown in the second half of the Ole Miss game. It was not because I wanted to humiliate Ole Miss, it was because I knew it sets a dangerous precedence. It tells a team that once you go up, you can relax and coast to victory. Well, what did we see in Baton Rouge? Precisely the same thing we had seen the week before.
I have seen businesses and business units take this same approach, namely playing it safe. Playing not to lose rather than playing to win. These businesses get ahead and since they have won in the past, they start playing it safe, playing not to lose what they have established. The results are almost always the same. Within 5 years, they are usually bought out, bankrupt, or become a former shell of themselves. If you do not grow, do not seek to improve, and simply start playing it safe, you are ceding your fire and ardor to someone else.
That's precisely what happened in Baton Rouge yesterday afternoon. We got ahead, decided to play it safe, milk the clock, and play not lose. The results were predictable. We lost all momentum, drive, and initiative. We let a team that was losing hope fast, start believing. We saw a stadium of dejected fans wake up and have a glimmer of hope. LSU was playing out of desperation and giving it all they had. As soon as they realize a modicum of success, they started playing harder. It changed from playing not to be embarrassed to playing with purpose While Auburn was simply going through the motions and playing not to lose, LSU started playing to win. It became contagious and the fans started believing as well. LSU started to play to win. That renewed hope was not something that the LSU team by itself created. Auburn gave them that hope, that spark, that life. since we had abandon it.
We let them do the driving, we were there just to finish the ride and arrive at our destination. When we woke up, it was too late. All the passion, fire, and energy had gone to the other side. We lost our mojo. We lost our drive. We lost our sense of urgency. We lost that high level of intensity.
There is a reason Alabama rarely loses. Yes, it is because of the great talent pool they have to choose from, but it is also because they have a coach that understands that coasting is not an option. You NEVER play not to lose, you always play to win and win big.
It doesn't matter if first string, second string, or third string is in the game, you have to see that fire, passion, and the need to excel and win. Malzahn simply does not have that killer instinct. He will go into his "safe mode", and the results are predictable.
Think what could have been if the team in the first half were REQUIRED to play like they did in the first half. What would have been the outcome if the first half team was also the second half team? What if the coaches had been requiring 100% effort, regardless of the score? What if they had been playing with the foot on the gas the entire second half, just as in the first half? I believe we would all be here celebrating a victory rather than lamenting a loss.
This coaching staff has done a terrible disservice to this team. They have instilled in these young men a terrible precedent that is going to be difficult to overcome. There is a time to relax, but it is not when you are engaged in fierce competition.
Your brand will not carry you. The hype is insufficient. You have to produce, you have to be diligent, you have to be focused. You have to be driven. You have to fight through the fatigue until the victor is awarded the prize. If you don't, you lose, even if the scoreboard says you won. You are setting a terrible precedence that is not going to serve you well. You have just mentally settled for mediocrity and sooner or later, mediocrity is what you will become.