Let’s get started with one storyline proper off the bat: there’s a robust trust that the 2022 faculty soccer season can be as commonplace as lets need after two years of COVID ravaging the game. Certain, we can have guys out because of protection protocols, and there’s at all times the specter of one thing going down, however the prevailing feeling is that faculty soccer will pass on with a “industry as same old” perspective within the new commonplace. That is an ideal factor.
Past that, a lot of attention-grabbing storylines will hover over the game q4 and affect what occurs at the subject. Switch laws, NIL, and convention realignment will proceed to be main tales off the sphere, however there are some improbable comings and goings at the gridiron that determine to make this one of the most extra attention-grabbing seasons in fresh reminiscence. Listed here are 20 storylines to apply all through the 2022 season.
1 of 20
Alabama vs Texas A&M
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There could also be extra essential video games at the time table, however none could have the heft that the Alabama-Texas A&M sport on Oct. 8. For something, A&M beat Alabama ultimate yr on a walk-off subject objective that ended a 23-month profitable streak by means of the Purple Tide. It used to be additionally Nick Saban’s first loss to certainly one of his former assistants in a sport. It could occur once more when Kirby Sensible and Georgia beat Alabama within the nationwide championship.
Since then, there was a disagreement between head coaches Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher, which has taken this contention to the following degree. After A&M beat out Alabama for the highest recruiting elegance within the nation, Saban accused Fisher of “purchasing each and every participant.” Fisher temporarily referred to as a information convention and went on a rampage blasting Saban. The meat calmed down just a little all the way through the SEC media days, but if the 2 join up in Tuscaloosa this October, all bets are off.
2 of 20
Can Georgia repeat?
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After Georgia after all gained its first nationwide championship in just about 4 many years, the query temporarily arose: can they do it once more? That is a tricky factor to invite someone outdoor of Tuscaloosa.
Georgia misplaced a ton of skill from that identify workforce, however the protection remains to be loaded, and the offense nonetheless has Stetson Bennett returning at quarterback. Even though, there are some extremely touted recruits gunning for his activity. In spite of the entire guys now within the NFL, this protection can be led by means of Nolan Smith and Jalen Carter within the entrance seven, two forged working backs in Kendall Milton and Kenny McIntosh, and the offensive line will nonetheless be one of the most very best within the country.
Alabama would be the favourite, and the SEC has gotten significantly better with new coaches at Florida and LSU, however Kirby Sensible’s program is not going away. The Dawgs can be very easily appreciated to win each and every sport till they achieve the SEC championship. From there, they’ve an ideal shot at getting again to the playoff.
3 of 20
UCLA and USC’s commute across the Pac-12
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Whilst this is not USC’s or UCLA’s ultimate season within the Pac-12 sooner than packing up for the Large Ten, it’s the first season they will have to stand a league they simply rocked. A apparently close-knit league used to be grew to become on its head when its most sensible historical program and its fiercest rival stealthily took the Los Angeles space out of the convention and left the remainder of the colleges scrambling. Truthfully, the way forward for all the Pac-12 is in danger, and the remainder ten colleges know the Trojans and Bruins put them there.
Remember the fact that, there can be some dangerous blood all the way through the convention season as one of the vital colleges get their ultimate shot at USC and UCLA sooner than they head off to the Midwest.
4 of 20
New coaches at main puts
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The training carousel this offseason used to be one of the most wildest in fresh reminiscence. After the mud settled, we’ve got new head coaches at Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC, LSU, Florida, and Miami. None of them are slam-dunk successes. Can Lincoln Riley get USC again to nationwide identify contender standing as this system makes its solution to the Large Ten? Can Brian Kelly paintings his magic (and his newfound Louisiana accessory) to tug LSU out of the doldrums? Is Marcus Freeman able for the drive of being a Notre Dame head trainer? How will Oklahoma transition from an offensive-minded guru to Brent Venables, one of the most very best defensive coaches within the country? Is Billy Napier able to take the bounce from Louisiana to the hotbed of the SEC and rival of the protecting nationwide champion? And can the funding Miami and its supporters Mario Cristobal repay?
There can be 30 new head coaches this season, and there are questions at each and every a type of puts. With such a lot of high-profile colleges making such massive adjustments, this can be a season we would possibly not fail to remember.
5 of 20
New quarterbacks, too
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Coaches were not the one ones transferring this offseason, because the switch portal and NIL offers have made loose company for quarterbacks the norm each and every offseason.
This yr, we’ve got Caleb Williams following Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma to USC. Dillon Gabriel left UCF for Williams’s outdated seat at Oklahoma. Jason Dart left USC for Ole Leave out (Lane Kiffin’s outdated activity to his present one), and Kedon Slovis left USC to switch Kenny Pickett at Pittsburgh. JT Daniels, who left USC for Georgia a couple of years in the past, now’s headed to West Virginia. Ultimate yr’s preseason Heisman favourite Spencer Rattler left Oklahoma for South Carolina.
Quinn Ewers left highschool early to money in on a NIL deal at Ohio State and is now transferred to Texas, his unique dedicated college. Casey Thompson left Texas to take a look at to resurrect Scott Frost‘s Nebraska program. Former Husker Adrian Martinez heads down the street to take over at Kansas State. Max Johnson departed LSU for a quarterback fight at Texas A&M. Zach Calzada would possibly not be a part of that fight as a result of he left Texas A&M for Auburn. Bo Nix left Auburn, his legacy college, to take snaps at Oregon.
Take into accout Michael Penix Jr. and his glorious season at Indiana in 2020? Neatly, he is at Washington now. Former Missouri starter Connor Bazelak will fill in Penix’s spot at Indiana. Emory Jones traded Florida for Arizona State, Jack Plummer left Purdue for Cal, and Grant Wells left Marshall for Virginia Tech.
Jayden De Laura led the Pac-12 in passing touchdowns ultimate yr and can keep within the convention as he left Washington State for Arizona. Upload in Washington State’s Cameron Ward, who led Incarnate Phrase with 47 landing passes ultimate yr, and you’ve got some attention-grabbing quarterback switches around the nation.
6 of 20
Jim Knowles could also be essentially the most impactful new rent
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No, Jim Knowles is not one of the most 30 new coaches within the FBS, however he could also be crucial rent within the nationwide championship image. Knowles leaves Oklahoma State, the place he used to be the architect for a stout protection within the passing-frenzied Large 12, for an Ohio State squad that had problems preventing opposing offenses. In Ohio State’s two losses ultimate season, they gave up a median of 38.5 issues and just about 500 yards according to sport with more than a few issues all the way through the season the place they in point of fact struggled to forestall the run, together with a wild Rose Bowl win over Utah. After an ideal 2019 season, the Buckeyes’ protection has been mediocre the ultimate two years.
Knowles can be tasked with shoring up a defensive unit in most cases full of skill, and he’s going to be bringing a key contributor. Protection Tanner McCalister will use his 5th yr of eligibility by means of shifting from Oklahoma State to Ohio State and turning into a coach-on-the-field of types to lend a hand ease the transition.
7 of 20
Bryan Harsin drama at Auburn
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Bryan Harsin’s first yr at Auburn did not pass really well. The Tigers misplaced their ultimate 5 video games of the season to complete with an unpleasant 6-7 mark and input 2022 picked to complete ultimate within the ultra-competitive SEC West. In between, he used to be investigated by means of the college after a mass exodus of gamers and coaches the place Harsin’s tradition used to be attacked (and defended by means of others). Ex-players mentioned he used to be like “a dictator,” and he mistreated gamers. The investigation did not to find any abuse or wrongdoing, however the injury could also be executed. Recruiting hasn’t long past neatly because the narrative surrounding Harsin is not a excellent one, and he’s most likely on the most up to date seat within the country with a brutal time table observing him.
8 of 20
Can Clemson come again?
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Clemson were a Faculty Soccer Playoff mainstay till ultimate season, when its cling at the ACC ended after a six-year reign. Clemson completed 10-3 at the season however 3rd within the Atlantic Department and neglected the league’s identify sport (Pittsburgh become the primary Coastal Department champ to win the ACC identify since 2010 once they beat Wake Woodland).
The Tigers’ falloff will also be contributed to the lack of main skill from their playoff runs (maximum particularly quarterback Trevor Lawrence and working again Travis Etienne). By contrast, new quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei (9 TDs, 10 INTs) struggled to search out consistency. Clemson were given higher because the season went alongside, however it isn’t the dominant workforce it’s been, whilst the ACC is not as down as it’s been, both.
The most important information is that Clemson misplaced either one of its long-time coordinators. Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott left to turn into the top trainer at Virginia, whilst vaunted defensive coordinator Brent Venables is now the top guy at Oklahoma. To not say that both guy is irreplaceable, however their departures will put some rigidity on a training team of workers that were now not best one of the gifted within the nation but additionally essentially the most solid.
Clemson is stuck up in the midst of the fast-changing global of school soccer. From Dabo Swinney’s feedback about NIL and switch laws to the college’s posturing amidst the realignment rumors, this system must regain its footing as one of the most elite.
9 of 20
Who can be this yr’s Cincinnati?
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Cincinnati after all broke via and become the primary Team of five college to succeed in the Faculty Soccer Playoff ultimate season. Who may well be the 2022 model?
Neatly, there’s BYU (who can be becoming a member of Cincinnati within the Large 12 subsequent season). BYU had an out of this world 2020 season (11-1) and adopted it with a 10-3 report ultimate yr. Quarterback Jaren Corridor is the actual deal, and a large number of the Cougars’ most sensible playmakers are again. In addition they get one thing that now not maximum Team of five heavyweights get: alternative. BYU will get Arkansas, Baylor, Notre Dame, and Oregon on their time table, so there can be virtually no method an undefeated Cougars workforce may get neglected of the playoff dialog.
Cincinnati can be within the combine, despite the fact that dropping QB Desmond Ridder to the NFL can be a tricky hurdle. Nonetheless, Luke Fickell shooed away different high-profile gigs to stick at Cincinnati, and he nonetheless has one of the most very best defenses within the nation. AAC (and shortly Large 12) rival Houston may also contend for a convention crown with quarterback Clayton Song in tow.
Fresno State could have the highest quarterback you may have by no means heard of in Jake Haener. The Bulldogs, led by means of the go back of head trainer Jeff Tedford, can win an underrated Mountain West convention.
10 of 20
Solar Belt will get larger
Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports activities
The primary wave of strikes because of Oklahoma’s and Texas’ strikes to the SEC occurs this yr because the Solar Belt welcomes James Madison (of their first FBS season), Marshall, Outdated Dominion, and Southern Leave out (the overall 3 from Convention USA). Whilst now not earth-shattering just like the realignment strikes coming down the road, it’s vital. James Madison has been one of the most higher FCS systems over the past decade, whilst Marshall has had its moments within the solar (no pun supposed) as neatly.
This used to be additionally just a little of a contentious break up, because the Solar Belt initially scheduled the 3 Convention USA colleges’ soccer systems, although they were not meant to be within the league but (there’s a 14-month understand that wasn’t adhered to). That brought about complaints and injunctions. No matter deal used to be made threw Convention USA in a bind since they’ve an strange choice of individuals and had to petition the NCAA for sure scheduling problems that can arise. The league faces extra upheaval as six colleges will go away after the 2022 season.
The Solar Belt, then again, has situated itself effectively as one of the most very best Team of five leagues.
11 of 20
BYU’s ultimate yr as an unbiased; 11 others at the transfer
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The Solar Belt expands this yr, however 2023 is when a large number of motion will start. BYU will play its ultimate season as an unbiased sooner than heading to the Large 12. That transfer coincides with Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF taking part in their ultimate seasons within the AAC sooner than becoming a member of the Cougars within the Large 12. The ones 3 colleges contain 5 of the seven AAC championship sport winners: UCF gained the AAC identify in 2013; Cincinnati used to be a part of a three-way tie in 2014 sooner than there used to be a identify sport, and Cincinnati is the two-time protecting champ. Cincinnati and Houston met for the AAC championship ultimate yr and are the favorites to fulfill once more in 2022.
As prior to now discussed, Convention USA will go through every other huge trade for the 2023 season. With Marshall, Outdated Dominion, and Southern Leave out leaving the league sooner than this season, 2022 would be the ultimate yr Charlotte, FAU, North Texas, Rice, UAB, and UTSA compete in Convention USA sooner than they head to the AAC. Liberty and New Mexico State sign up for BYU as taking part in their ultimate seasons as unbiased systems (the ones two head to Convention USA subsequent yr). Jacksonville State and Sam Houston State will sign up for C-USA in 2023.
That is a large number of adjustments at the horizon and does not even point out the massive strikes of UCLA, USC, Oklahoma, or Texas, that are nonetheless years clear of going down.
12 of 20
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The arena of school athletics is on edge at the moment, with soccer at the leading edge of the decision-making. So the query over everybody’s head is, what is subsequent? Indisputably, each and every college has other solutions to that query. For example, the 10 ultimate individuals of the Pac-12 are concurrently sticking in combination to stay the league alive whilst in search of alternatives to leap send. The ACC’s Grant of Rights clause has each made the league solid and uneasy. The Large 12 turns out just a little on forged floor at the moment, however best as a result of no person in point of fact desires any of its systems.
The Large Ten’s reported new tv contract will put a large number of athletic administrators and college presidents on understand. The Large 12 and Pac-12 are up for brand spanking new TV offers, whilst the ACC is making an attempt to have the opportunity to make their dangerous maintain ESPN higher. Attorneys from ACC colleges have made journeys to Greensboro to take a look at to search out cracks within the league’s bylaws, whilst the Large 12 and Pac-12 have attempted to scouse borrow colleges clear of each and every different and concurrently talked a couple of merger of types. There is additionally pushback from the College of California gadget about UCLA strolling clear of its brothers.
And that Alliance that used to be created a yr in the past? That is useless.
Do not fail to remember that white whale of Notre Dame simply swimming in the market by itself. Ultimate yr, it gave the impression of the Large 12 used to be teetering, and everybody else used to be doing alright. Best the Large Ten and SEC are in fee this yr, whilst the opposite 3 Energy 5 leagues are looking to cling their meetings in combination.
13 of 20
Finish of the loopy ACC Coastal Department
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports activities
With leagues replacing their scheduling now that divisions are not required to carry a convention championship sport, one of the vital quirks of the divisional layout will quickly be coming to an finish. A kind of is the ACC’s Coastal Department, one of the most craziest collections of faculties within the country.
The ACC will ditch divisions in 2023, which makes this the ultimate season of the Coastal Department. The Coastal used to be by no means nice and seldom ready to carry a candle to the dominant Clemson or Florida State within the Atlantic Department, however it had a attraction all its personal the place no person had any concept how it could shake out yr to yr. Pittsburgh shocked many by means of now not best profitable the Coastal ultimate season however turning into the primary workforce from the department to win an ACC championship since 2010.
From 2013 to 2019, all seven colleges within the Coastal Department gained it precisely as soon as. Sure, even Duke gained it. None of them gained the ACC identify. A bunch of faculties that, for essentially the most section, had been put along side no exact reasoning instead of an try to create Miami-Florida State ACC identify video games that ended up by no means going down.
North Carolina and Duke shared a department to be reverse NC State and Wake Woodland. Neatly, it’s important to stick Virginia with North Carolina within the “South’s Oldest Competition.” That suggests Virginia Tech remains with Virginia. Miami must be within the reverse department than Florida State, with Georgia Tech, for no matter reason why, thrown into the combination. When Pitt and Syracuse joined within the 2010s, Pitt caught with the Virginia colleges whilst Syracuse gave Boston Faculty a pal within the Atlantic.
No Coastal Department workforce performed for a countrywide championship or the Faculty Soccer Playoff all the way through its run. Nonetheless, the one predictable factor concerning the department used to be its unpredictability. As 2022 is its ultimate hurrah, it is just becoming that the department is once more up for grabs.
14 of 20
Pac-12 is going division-less
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The Pac-12 will get started going division-less in 2022, finishing the North vs. South thought. To start with, it made sense because the 4 California colleges that had been break up up alongside department strains would now be in combination, however that idea has been tossed apart as USC and UCLA can be leaving the league in a few years.
The North has ruled the championship sport, profitable 9 of the 11 video games, and had turn into the most efficient a part of the league within the Faculty Soccer Playoff technology. The league will now play a nine-game time table adore it in most cases has alongside the standard divisional layout (5 video games in opposition to your individual department; 4 in opposition to the opposite department) however with out in truth having divisions. The highest two groups within the standings will face off within the identify sport. They had been nonetheless discussing scheduling fashions for the longer term when the UCLA/USC information came about, so the Pac-12 may use a round-robin layout if the league remains at ten individuals.
15 of 20
Travis Hunter at Jackson State
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One of the vital greatest coups of the season used to be when Deion Sanders beat out a number of big-time systems to get cornerback Travis Hunter to return to Jackson State. Hunter used to be rated because the No. 1 prospect in lots of ratings, and colleges like Florida State, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Florida had been after him. But, Sanders used to be ready to get the absolute best recruit in HBCU and FCS historical past to return to Jackson State — beating his alma mater Florida State within the procedure — in one of the surprising strikes in recruitment historical past. It used to be one of these stunner that Deion and Jackson State become a part of Nick Saban’s rant about colleges paying gamers.
The transfer shined a mild on HBCUs, the worth of the schooling you obtain, and the facility to get to the NFL by means of committing to one of the most colleges. It additionally confirmed that NIL cash will to find you regardless of the place you’re. The transfer has proven the electrical energy surrounding Deion Sanders and his talent now not simply to construct a program however do it with get admission to to the most efficient prep skill. It additionally says so much about Hunter, who may’ve executed the better factor and dedicated to one of the most elite systems recruiting him as a substitute of constructing his personal trail. Defensive backs at FCS colleges do not normally transfer the needle, however Hunter can be a participant to observe over the following a number of seasons. In spite of everything, he’s going to be coached by means of one of the most very best corners to stroll the earth.
16 of 20
Will Nebraska after all soar again?
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports activities
Scott Frost used to be meant to get Nebraska again to its profitable techniques. Heck, he used to be meant to have the Cornhuskers contending for Large Ten titles. However the Huskers have not reached a bowl sport in his 4 seasons in Lincoln. They are coming off a 3-9 season the place they misplaced 8 of 9 convention video games. So, why is there optimism?
The report used to be dangerous, however it wasn’t just like the Huskers were not aggressive. 8 in their 9 losses had been inside of one rating (8 issues or much less), with that one outlier being a nine-point loss to Ohio State. They hung with Oklahoma in Norman (23-16 loss), took Michigan State to time beyond regulation (23-20), and gave Large Ten champ Michigan all it might maintain (32-29). Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple will get to broaden Texas switch quarterback Casey Thompson to boost an offense that permit them down now and then in 2021. The protection is already forged and can wish to proceed to be if Frost goes to ultimate past this season. Completing video games could be an ideal get started.
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Ohio State’s Archie Griffin is the one participant ever to win more than one Heisman Trophy awards, and that used to be just about 50 years in the past. Alabama’s Bryce Younger has a superb opportunity to be the second one participant to do it.
Younger had an out of this world first season as a starter, however he has room to give a boost to. He’s the most efficient participant on the most efficient workforce (as of now), which provides him an ideal start line within the race. A 2nd yr as a starter will have to make him a lot more ready and assured within the pocket. What is going to paintings in opposition to him is dropping two key receivers to the NFL — John Mechie and Jameson Williams — and competing in a much-improved quarterback elegance.
Following the Heisman race can be thrilling it doesn’t matter what, however particularly if Younger is a sturdy contender to copy.
18 of 20
What is subsequent at Michigan?
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What a distinction a yr makes. After going 2-4 within the pandemic-ravaged 2020 season, the place the Wolverines canceled their sport in opposition to rival Ohio State, many across the nation felt Jim Harbaugh used to be at the thinnest of ice in Ann Arbor. As an alternative, he signed a four-year extension with a critical pay lower. Then, Michigan went 12-1, beat Ohio State for the primary time in his time with the Wolverines, gained the Large Ten identify for the primary time since 2004, and made their first look within the Faculty Soccer Playoff.
Michigan introduced Harbaugh a brand new contract, elevating his base wage to $7 million a season. Earlier than he signed it, then again, he used to be within the working for NFL head training jobs in Las Vegas and Minnesota. In reality, he used to be interviewing with the Vikings on nationwide signing day, which ended in a large number of confusion across the program. He in the end stayed at Michigan however could have some paintings to do to copy as Large Ten champs. Aidan Hutchinson and defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald are long past. However the offense could have continuity with quarterback Cade McNamara and working backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards.
Within the rollercoaster Harbaugh technology, who is aware of what to anticipate in 2022?
19 of 20
Pac-12’s quest to get again to the Playoff
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Remember the fact that, information of UCLA and USC leaving for the Large Ten used to be an enormous blow from an already reeling convention. The league used to be already having a tricky time dropping its recognition as a Energy 5 convention that may’t produce championship-caliber groups. For the reason that Faculty Soccer Playoff began 8 years in the past, the Pac-12 has best despatched the 2014 Oregon Geese and 2016 Washington Huskies to the development, with the Geese’ win over Florida State the one Playoff win the league has.
That suggests the Pac-12 has been close out of the Playoff for the ultimate 5 years and hasn’t gained a sport in 8. Can that streak lead to 2022?
The league’s very best guess is Utah. The protecting champs go back quarterback Cameron Emerging and maximum of his receiving corps. Even though, changing Britain Covey can be difficult. Working again Tavion Thomas, who had a exceptional stretch to finish the common season in ’21 and figures to be one of the most most sensible backs within the nation this season, may be returning. The protection can be simply as difficult because it used to be a yr in the past.
Oregon may well be within the combine, particularly if they are able to beat Georgia within the season-opener in Atlanta. And you’ve got to surprise how temporarily Lincoln Riley will get issues grew to become round at USC. The remainder of the league is reasonably mediocre, so selecting up a large non-conference win (Utah at Florida, Oregon vs. Georgia, USC vs. Notre Dame) would pass a ways towards credibility.
20 of 20
Miami pushes its chips to the center of the desk
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Miami desires to be Miami once more. It’s been just about twenty years because the Hurricanes were a feared program. The present gamers had been little toddlers (or more youthful) when the ‘Canes boasted one of the gifted stables of gamers ever witnessed on a school soccer workforce. Except a surge in 2017, Miami hasn’t been that program in any respect.
They would like that to switch now. The varsity overtly went after Oregon’s Mario Cristobal even sooner than firing their now-ex-coach Manny Diaz. They introduced in Clemson’s athletic director Dan Radakovich to run their program. Boosters and directors are promising to fund this system (even making an attempt to construct a stadium on campus) to convey the Hurricanes again to their glory days. All of this may take a little time, however Miami has a excellent shot at profitable the ACC Coastal Department this yr, which provides them a shot on the ACC identify. The ones are reachable objectives from a program that has gained exactly one bowl sport since 2006. Nonetheless, the long-term objectives are a lot grander.