Roy Exum: UTC And ‘The S.I. Jinx’

Thursday, November 21, 2013
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The much-dreaded “Sports Illustrated Jinx” could play right into the hands of the UT-Chattanooga football team this Saturday afternoon but Auburn fans the world over are hoping it won’t go until effect until next Monday when the Nov. 25 issue becomes official. After all, University of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron will be shown on next week’s cover and urban legend holds that is the worst thing that can happen in the quick future of a star athlete

Countless stories have been told about the “Sports Illustrated Jinx,” the most recent occurring just three weeks ago; Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was featured on the cover and three days later the Ducks suffered a gut-wrenching 26-20 upset loss to Stanford. Could the same hold true for Alabama on Saturday when the UTC Mocs travel to Tuscaloosa for a 2:00 p.m. appointment with McCarron and his top-ranked Crimson Tide? After all, regular subscribers will be delivered their magazines today and the jinx isn’t too technical.

Or, will the spell hold off until the following Saturday’s “Mother of All Iron Bowls” when the great rivalry between the Crimson Tide and once-beaten Auburn is renewed at 3:30 p.m. in what will be a delirious game on national TV? If either UTC or Auburn topples the Tide, the aura surrounding the “Sports Illustrated Jinx” will only get bigger.

For the record, the Alabama Nation is playing down the Jinx because the university has made huge strides in repelling the gloom and doom associated with the cover elsewhere across America. While it is true the jinx reared its head three straight times in the Bear Bryant era, Alabama now has a string of 11 straight wins in games after the Crimson Tide has been featured on the famous sports weekly’s cover.

But many athletes and teams haven’t been as lucky. On Nov. 16, 2009 a picture of Peyton Manning accompanied by the headline, “Inside the Helmet of the League’s Most Cerebral Quarterback” resulted in a 31-17 loss to the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV. Race car legend Dale Earnhardt was on the cover Dec. 2, 2000 and two months later died on the final lap of the Daytona 500.

On March 26, 2013 baseball’s Albert Pujols was on the baseball preview cover with a caption that read, “The game’s greatest slugger starts over the Angels.” Are you kidding? He didn’t hit a home run until May 6, 2012 in his 28th game and his 111th at-bat of the season. You see how it works? There are people all over the world of sports who swear the SI cover ain’t nothing but bad ju-ju.

Pro baseball’s Josh Hamilton was having a dazzling year when he was on the June 11, 2012, cover. Three days later he was hospitalized for an intestinal virus.  On March 25 of this year University of Indiana basketball player Victor Oladipo made the cover and the Hoosiers were promptly upset in the very next game by Syracuse at the NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen.

Jeremy Linn was on the Feb. 17, 2012 cover when the Knicks were riding a seven-game winning streak and, ka-boom, suddenly New York dropped an 89-85 loss to the New Orleans Hornets, a team that at the time had the second-worst record in the NBA.

Happenstance? Lin was such a hot item at the time he made his second consecutive cover the very next week but as soon as SI hit the streets, Lin went 1-for-11 in a 102-88 loss to the Miami Heat and several weeks later suffered a season-ending knee injury. Ask Jeremy about karma.

Only three weeks earlier, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rogers was the cover-boy as the NFL playoffs began and – bingo -- the Packers became the first team with a 15-1 record to ever lose in the first round. It’s true; the Giants won 37-20 in Green Bay!

This July Pittsburgh pitcher Jason Grilli was the first Pirates player to grace the cover since 1992. Leading the National League with 30 saves, it made sense until on the very same day the magazine came out Grilli strained his forearm in a game and was placed on the disabled list.

And remember last year on August 20 when Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was on the cover before facing Alabama in a huge opener? What happened? Tide won it 41-14 and took the first victory in what would become a national championship season. 

One month later Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas was featured for the top-ranked Ducks – at the time -- and that is when Oregon first learned about the curse – Stanford clipped ‘em 17-14 in overtime last fall before tragedy befell Mariotta two weeks ago in Jinx II.

There have been some famous moments with the jinx. Michael Spinks was on the cover June 20, 1988 with a caption that read, “Don’t Count Me Out.” Yep, 91 seconds into the fight Mike Tyson not only knocked him cold, but into permanent retirement. In 1984 legendary Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert was pictured as “The Man of Steel” and soon missed most of the season with injuries before he also retired that same year.

On and on it goes. Sports Illustrated put a picture of a black cat on a cover in 2002 when staff writer Alexander Wolff wrote a story on the jinx and let it be said that Michael Jordan has been on the cover a record 49 times and it hasn’t seemed to bother him much.

royexum@aol.com

Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron as he appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine. The top-ranked Crimson Tide hosts UTC this Saturday in a 2 p.m. game.
Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron as he appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine. The top-ranked Crimson Tide hosts UTC this Saturday in a 2 p.m. game.

David Carroll: How To Contact Our Local Servicemen’s Families

Many of you have sent some incredibly kind messages about local news coverage of Chattanooga’s tragic day, July 16.  I haven’t had time to thank everyone individually, but please know I really appreciate the compliments, as well as the constructive criticism.  If you know me at all, you know I’d much rather report and write about upbeat stories.  But like so many ... (click for more)

Christians With Their Heads In The Sand

I recall how history tells us of the German people living next to the gas chambers, ignoring the smell and horror of over six million Jews being slaughtered, and then acting as though they didn't know it had happened.  I can also recall that Eisenhower was so disgusted with these callused and unconcerned people that he made them face their denial by marching them all past ... (click for more)

Ruling States That City Of Cleveland Is Entitled To Liquor By The Drink Funds

The city of Cleveland is entitled to keep all funds collected since city voters approved “liquor by the drink” in the Nov. 5, 2002 election. Bradley County Schools sued the city for taxes owed based on the school board’s interpretation of state law. Cleveland City Schools will be allowed to keep its money. The city of Cleveland distributed the liquor by the drink tax to Cleveland ... (click for more)

Crash On Chattanooga Avenue Causes Power Outage

A single-car accident in Dalton damaged a power pole on Chattanooga Avenue in front of the Crown Mill Village apartments and has caused a power outage in the area.   Chattanooga Avenue was closed between Matilda Street and Judson Street while the Dalton Police Department investigated the crash and Dalton Utilities worked to replace the pole. The road was reopened later.  ... (click for more)

CFC Hosts Indiana, Officials Hoping For 9,999+

 The Chattanooga Football Club is set to host the NPSL national semifinal match Saturday night at Finley Stadium.  CFC will take on the Indiana Fire who won the Midwest Region championship.   The game is set to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.   Last year, Chattanooga hosted Sacramento in a national semifinal game and drew more almost 9,000 fans.  Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Christian School Adds Fitness and Wellness Center

Blend together a 5,000 square foot fitness/wellness area with state-of-the-art team meeting rooms, varsity locker rooms, coaches’ offices, public restrooms and a large concession area able to handle fans viewing three sporting events simultaneously and one has the Powerhouse. Collier Construction is putting the finishing touches on the new, 14,000 square foot fitness and wellness ... (click for more)