It's funny what expectations do for sports.
Just look at Tennessee men's and women's basketball for instance.
Top-seeded Lady Vols fell victim to Notre Dame 73-59 Monday night in the Elite Eight, marking the third consecutive year Pat Summitt's squad has failed to reach the Final Four.
A win over the Irish would've likely set up a Tennessee-Connecticut national semifinal matchup Sunday night, a game fans have wanted to see for four years.
The men's program has never reached the Final Four, but came one point — and two seconds — away two years ago. Michigan State's 70-69 win over UT ended the most successful season in the program's history.
That team — led by seniors Wayne Chism, J.P. Prince and Bobby Maze — will go down as the Vols team that broke through the Sweet 16 barrier and reached uncharted heights.
Each of those teams ended its season in identical fashions, losing in the Elite Eight.
Yet, one is remembered as the most successful in school history, while the other's season is considered a bit of a disappointment.
Why is that?
Because the Lady Vols are expected to get to Final Fours and win national championships. After all, eight women's national championship banners hang in the Thompson-Boling Arena rafters.
The men's team?
A successful campaign likely meant just making the NCAA Tournament. Although in recent years, making the Big Dance became the norm and fans began wanting — or at least hoping — for more.
Another example is the football program.
Just a decade ago, in 2001, the Vols were smelling roses, orange roses.
A week after defeating Florida in Gainesville to claim the SEC East crown, UT was in the driver's seat to play in the national championship game against Miami, and someone sold orange roses at the SEC fanfare before the game.
The only problem was the Vols still had to win the SEC title. They were heavy favorites in the SEC Championship Game against LSU.
Only problem was, LSU's back-up quarterback and running back staged a second-half comeback and upset the Vols.
That season angers Vol fans even to this day.
Yet last season, UT finished 6-7 in Derek Dooley's first year as coach.
And some fans considered it a good year.
What a difference 10 years makes.
Ten years and three head coaches later, a sub-.500 record is a step in the right direction, while a 10-2 team is considered a failure.
What changed? The expectations. Crazy how that works.
Looking ahead to this upcoming football season, a 6-7 record shouldn't -— and probably won't — result in a "good" season.
Instead, with talented playmakers returning — including a sophomore quarterback from California, much like in 2001 — and more depth on both sides of the ball, Dooley has raised the expectations of what he wants the team to be.
And fans should too.