First Word: Upsets?

Down here in the Deep South, one of the favorite times of the year – college football season – is in full swing.

Perhaps we spend our energy and passion on the college scene because the nearest professional team is more than 200 miles away. Or maybe it’s just because there’s a lot of fascinating match-ups on the college level. We’ve already seen a couple of major upsets in the first few weeks of this season – Appalachian State beating Michigan and South Florida beating Auburn.

But when you delve into each of these contests, you have to ask the question: Were these two examples really upsets?

Take a look at Appalachian State. Here’s a team that walks into the Big House in Ann Arbor with their heads held high and, most importantly, a winning attitude. They may be not be classified as a Division I team, but they were winners. They had back-to-back Division 1-AA national championships in their previous two seasons, a fact that certainly should earn them respect against any team they play. Their coaches drilled into them they were winners, and more importantly, the players believed it. The end result speaks for itself.

What about South Florida? In a state where the Gators, Seminoles, and Hurricanes have dominated for the past couple of decades, this scrappy team from Tampa marches onto Auburn’s home field and, after blowing numerous chances to win in regulation, waltzes home with an overtime victory over a top-20 ranked team. But a little research unveils these guys also were winners. Two years ago, they beat and ruined the national title hopes of a then undefeated Louisville team. Last year, South Florida knocked off a top-10 ranked West Virginia team.

What about your team? I know you find yourself competing against the local big guys for construction work – and that sometimes you win the bid. All this may look like the equivalent of an upset, but you know better. You’ve done your homework – scouted the opposition, planned your attack, and taken advantage of the technological advances that give you that extra leg up, whether in the office or on your equipment. Perhaps most important, you’ve let your employees know that they work for a winning company, so you’re in a position to run an agile offense and defense against your competition.

If you believe you’re a winner, it’s not really an upset.