The Champions of Life have some expensive hardware to celebrate the ending of their 2016 season.
Invoices obtained by the Knoxville News Sentinel show that Tennessee’s football program spent a whopping $37,193 on 164 “Music City Bowl Champions” rings in April as part of an order that also included seven pendants celebrating the Vols’ postseason victory.
Tennessee defeated Nebraska 38-24 last December in a game where star defensive end Derek Barnett broke the school’s all-time sack record. The rings, which clocked in at $220 a piece with numerous diamonds set around the school’s famous block T logo, were handed out to 110 players, 22 members of the coaching staff and 39 support staff personnel according to the paper.
“Rings are very, very special. Each team is bonded by a championship ring. Each team is bonded by that ring, and that ring tells a particular story,” head coach Butch Jones said in November. “It’s like a storybook of that particular season, so that’s why the sides are important, why the front of it is very important. I think it also builds pride in your institution.”
In addition, the school purchased eight extra rings for staff members to celebrate their victory over Virginia Tech in the Battle at Bristol to bring the Vols’ total ring budget to nearly $40,000 on the year. Documents also show that the trip up to Nashville for the Music City Bowl cost Tennessee a further total of $1,070,75, which sounds like a pretty penny until factoring in a $1.3 million bowl distribution from the SEC.
Buying rings to celebrate bowl games or notable achievements of a good year are not uncommon in college football but that five-figure total being spent on a win in the Music City Bowl probably isn’t what Vols fans want to be seeing after a rather disappointing season in 2016.