Roy Exum: Two ‘Participation’ Rings

Monday, May 15, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

For many years the lofty goal of earning a national championship ring was the biggest prize in college sports but then came the softening of America. Suddenly the “Most Valuable Player” trophy was cheapened by the “Participation Trophy,” which was given to every player on the team so no one would get their feelings hurt. To athletic purists Participation Trophies were meaningless, almost as bad as giving every player a varsity letter instead of requiring an athlete to play a certain number of minutes during a season to earn the distinction.

In the South it was a huge thing to be “a ring toter,” as in carrying a national championship symbol on your finger as you hold your girlfriend’s hand.  Some girls would pry the heavy rings off their BF’s hand, then, using candle wax to narrow the finger size, the girls would declare “ownership.” It was a pretty big ritual.

Now comes word that every player on last fall’s disappointing Tennessee team has just been given two rings. The first was for winning “The Battle of Bristol,” where the Vols spanked Virginia Tech at the Bristol Motor Speedway, 45-21. In fairness, the rings were supplied by event organizers, who were just as shocked that the Vols had to eek one against Appalachian State (20-13) the week before.

Tennessee would lose in another overtime to Texas A&M (42-38) and was predictably smashed by Alabama 49-20.  But the reason UT had a 4-4 record in the SEC was because a couple of underdogs were “bigger dogs” when the Vols visited. Losses to South Carolina and to Vanderbilt scuttled a big bowl game so UT ended up in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl against a lackluster Nebraska.

Head coach Butch Jones immediately ordered 165 “Music City Bowl Champions” to commemorate the 38-24 victory and, after the Knoxville News-Sentinel requested a full financial disclosure via the Open Records Act, UT paid $37,193 for the rings. Tennessee also wanted extra Battle of Bristol rings and paid $2,600 for those.

Speaking of the Music City Bowl, the University of Tennessee spent over $1 million in Nashville and UT’s share of the SEC bowl income will be $1.3 million.

* * *

CBS Sports takes all of the college football coaches in the Power Five football conferences, adds Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and ranks all 65 on one list after spring practice every spring. This year’s list has just been announced. Here they are in order, and the number following the name of the coach’s school is last year’s coach ranking:

1. NICK SABAN, Alabama (1).

2. URBAN MEYER, Ohio State (2)

3. DABO SWEENEY, Clemson (8)

4. JIMBO FISHER, Florida State (6)

5. JIM HARBAUGH, Michigan (10)

6. CHRIS PETERSEN, Washington (14)

7. BOBBY STOOPES, Oklahoma (4)

8. DAVID SHAW, Stanford (9)

9. BILL SNYDER, Kansas State (17)

10. GARY PATTERSON, Texas Christian (3)

11. MARK DANTONIO, Michigan State (5)

12. MIKE GUNDY, Oklahoma State (20)

13. BOBBY PETRINO, Louisville (25)

14. KYLE WHITTINGHAM, Utah (23)

15. MARK RICHT, Miami (18)

16. PAT FITZGERALD, Northwestern (34)

17. DAVID CUTCLIFFE, Duke (15)

18. JAMES FRANKLIN, Penn State (41)

19. GUS MALZAHN, Auburn (13)

20. KIRK FERENTZ, Iowa (19)

21. DAN MULLEN, Mississippi State (31)

22. BRIAN KELLY, Notre Dame (12)

23. JIM McELWAIN, Florida (27)

24. PAUL JOHNSON, Georgia Tech (27)

25. MIKE LEACH, Washington State (30)

26. LARRY FEDORA, North Carolina (35)

27. BERT BIELEMA, Arkansas (22)

28. ROM HERMAN, Texas (NR)

29. PAUL CHRYST, Wisconsin (38)

30. MIKE McINTYRE, Colorado (58)

31. WILLIE TAGGART, Oregon (NR)

32. BRONCO MENDENHALL, Virginia (26)

33. HUGH FREEZE, Ole Miss (21)

34. JUSTIN FUENTE, Va. Tech (38)

35. P.J. FLECK, Minnesota (NR)

36. DANA HOLGORSEN, West Virginia (42)

37. WILL MUSCHAMP, South Carolina (44)

38. MIKE RILEY, Nebraska (43)

39. MATT RHULE, Baylor (NR)

40. KEVIN SMLIN, Texas A&M (43)

41. GARY ANDERSON, Oregon State (NR)

42. TODD GRAHAM, Arizona (36)

43. PAR NANDUZZI, Pittsburgh (40)

44. RICH RODRIGUES, Arizona (NR)

45. CLAY HEKTON, Southern Cal (51)

46. DAVE CLAWSON, Wake Forest (59)

47. JEFF BROHM, Purdue ((NR)

48. ED ORGERON, La. State. (NR)

49. JIM MORA, UCLA (29)

50. STEVE ADDAZIO. Boston College (54)

51. DINO BABERS, Syracuse (45)

52. BUTCH JONES, Tennessee (33) – The individual memo from CBS reads: “A Champion of Life, but not a champion of our rankings. Still, in my opinion, this is a pretty steep drop considering all the injuries Tennessee dealt with last year. Raised expectations will do that, though.”

53. DEREK MASON, Vanderbilt (57)

54. KIRBY SMART, Georgia (46)

55. D.J. DURKIN, Markland (60)

56. MARK STOOPS, Kentucky (56)

57. KLIFF KINGSBURY, Texas Tech (47)

58. LOVIE SMITH, U. of Illinois (49)

59. DAVE DOEREN, N. C. State (62)

60. DAVID BEATY, Kansas (50)

61. MATT CAMPBELL, Iowa State (55)

62. BARRY ODOM, Missouri (62)

63. TOM ALLEN, Indiana (NR)

64. JUSTIN WILCOS, California (NR)

65. CHRIS ASH, Rutgers (64)

Royexum@aol.com



More Walk And Less Talk WUTC 88.1 FM

The wife and I have noticed that in the past few years that there seems to be more talk, (All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Fresh Air, Living on Earth, New Dimensions, On the Media, Scenic City Round Table, This American Life, To The Best of Our Knowledge, Weekend Edition Saturday, Weekend Edition Sunday,  etc., etc.), than walk (music) on WUTC 88.1 FM. We listen ... (click for more)

Just Merge

I don't profess to be the best driver in town.  Lord knows I make my share of mistakes while maneuvering through the streets and highways of Chattanooga.  However, I would like to publicly give some advise on merging at the entrance ramps to the highways.   When I took driver's ed, some many, many years ago, one of the things they taught us was how to merge.  I ... (click for more)

Female CARTA Driver Has Unknown Liquid Thrown In Her Face; 4 Fellow Employees Also Taken To Hospital; 15 Fire Companies Respond

A female CARTA bus driver had an "unknown liquid" thrown in her face at the rear of the CARTA headquarters by Sholar Avenue on Tuesday morning, fire officials said. It is near Wilcox Boulevard and Holtzclaw Avenue. Four bystanders were also taken to the hospital.  Police said all those affected were CARTA employees, who may have gotten liquid on them while assisting the ... (click for more)

Case Of Murders At Lookout Valley Trailer Park Goes To The Jury With No Defense Proof; State Seeking Life Without The Possibility Of Parole For Morse

The case in which three men were killed and a youth left for dead at a Lookout Valley trailer park is going to the jury with no defense proof. Derek Morse on Tuesday afternoon opted not to take the witness stand in his own defense. The state is asking that he be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the killings of Jon Morris, John "Jake" Lang and ... (click for more)

GPS Rally Clips Cleveland On Senior Night

They celebrated Senior Night at GPS on Monday and the Bruisers made everyone happy with a tough, come-from-behind non-district volleyball win over Cleveland, but GPS coach Alfie Dodd wasn’t happy. “They say that a win is a win, but I don’t always agree with that,” he said after his girls had prevailed inn five sets over a really good group of Lady Blue Raiders. “We won the ... (click for more)

Testy Jones: Media Negativity "Sometimes Overwhelming"

Things got testy toward the end of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones’ weekly Monday press conference. Early in the “presser,” Jones suggested the media was too interested in drama surrounding his program when he answered a question pertaining to why injured wide receiver Jauan Jennings, who is out for the season, hadn’t been on the sideline in any of the three games he’s ... (click for more)