In truth, there are things far more important than college football. That appears to be the message of Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, who says his players have already become champions of life after being locked out of a shot to play for the SEC championship in Atlanta next week. Alabama will face Florida in the SEC Championship Game for the second striaght season. The Gators clinched the SEC East with a win at LSU, thus locking out Tennessee form a shot at the division crown.
You can understand the point jones is trying to make by saying that no matter has or has not happened on the gridiron this fall or the past four years, the senior class at Tennessee will leave the program as strong individuals ready for whatever comes at them next in the NFL or life after football. You want your head coach to be able to prepare players for life after college, but in a season in which Tennessee was the preseason favorite in the SEC East and this was supposed to be the year the Vols take advantage of a down division, the comments by Jones do little to satisfy those rooting for the Vols, who have been starving for an SEC championship and more.
But this is what Jones does to reach out to his players and connect with recruits. Selling a message like this is essential for some in college football, but ultimately the message comes across better if, you know, the team wins an actual championship on the field.
Tennessee let an SEC East Division slip right through their hands this season and will go back to the drawing board in 2017 looking to find a way to take the next step that appears to be a steep one for the program under Jones. But at least they’ll all be life champions.