Let me be clear up front: the phrase "after this it's all gravy" or any of its derivative forms have never escaped my lips, been sent in a tweet, or to my memory been placed in a comment. But I would be lying if I told you it wasn't exactly how I felt three days ago. Therefore, I feel I need to defend the Gravy Line.
The Gravy Line thought process may be perceived by some as disloyal or a cowardly hedging of bets. On the contrary, the idea that after a certain point one is playing with house money, that we didn't expect to be here can be calming and freeing. While I have been as on edge, as nervous, and as crippled by obsessive compulsive superstition as the rest of the board during games, the time before games has been relatively agida free.
But more importantly, the Gravy Line represents a clear, if greasy and amorphous, demarcation between when I am disappointed in the players/coaches/program, and when I am disappointed for the players/coaches/program. If this team had lost to Montana, I would have been furious*. If they had lost to California, I would have been angry*. If they had lost to Indiana, I would have thanked them for their hard work this season and felt bad for them that they got sent home with a loss. But they beat Indiana. And they beat Marquette. And it was all gravy for me.
And gravy is delicious.
The fact that I went into the Indiana game thinking, "We're not supposed to win this" made that win all the more savory. All the more juicy. All the more... whatever it is gravy does to food. The difference is this. Gravy Line thinkers may don't go in thinking every game should be won, but they certainly go in thinking every game can be won.
Sean, while eschewing the comfort of the Gravy Line, has his own one-sided version when he suggests that the bar has been raised: that we now have a one-way, semi-congealed Gravy Line at the Elite Eight. That failure to reach the Elite Eight is a disappointment. But Bar Line lacks the comfort of the Gravy Line. Failure to reach the Elite Eight may be a disappointment, but reaching or exceeding the Elite Eight does not offer the sweet relief of gravy.
For those that perceive the Gravy Line as disloyal, all I have to say is this. Of course, I want SU to win every game, just like I want all the gravy. Gravy, to me, is the bacon of sauces. There is no such thing as too much. Insufficient gravy is a terrible thing. It's heart wrenching... but at least I still have meat.
All that said, the Final Four has all new rules. SU is one win from a championship game, two wins from the brass ring. The opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament can be a crapshoot like the first days of the World Series of Poker (mixed my gambling metaphors there). You throw a bunch of pros in with a bunch of gifted amateurs, and a bunch of mokes with money to burn and you can get some weird results. But we're at the final table now. The prize is in sight. The gravy brings no comfort.
*I would have gotten over it. No "I'm through with this team" histrionics from me. Loyalty.