2016 Tennessee football is no less or more lucky than others
This year's version of the Tennessee Volunteer #Football team has never provided a dull moment--a statement I think all would agree on--in any of their games. However, writers, analysts and even coaches are always looking for the snappy phrase or single word to describe such teams. It is unfortunate that the word many media people have settled on to describe Tennessee so far is "lucky."
One of my very favorite words used by Tennessee Coach Butch Jones the past three years is resiliency. Definition--the ability to return readily to original form from adversity. It seemed to me Jones really started using that one late in 2014. By 2015 it had become a regular in his coach-speak when describing the team. It is a much more accurate definition of Tennessee football this year than lucky.
There is a real mastery in what Jones does with his very concise, easily repeated one to four word phrases in communicating with 19 to 23-year-old players. Like all in their age group, they simply tune out messages that aren't short and pithy.
While Jones doesn't look quite as comfortable in front of the cameras as some coaches, he still does a great job in getting--and reinforcing regularly--his messages to the team and the press. While at the same time, he never gives bulletin board material to any other coach or team. Mission accomplished from his part. However, I would think he, his staff and any player on that team would rightly feel insulted by being referred to as lucky to be 5-1.
Media calling you lucky isn't a good thing
Every team gets some luck--good and bad--in every game. Here is an example of good and bad luck on one play: A punt returner lines up to fair catch a kick. He has an opponent two yards behind and his teammate about two yards to his left. When the kick arrives, it goes through his hands and hits the ground, then bounces directly into the opponent's hands. The ball could have bounced directly left and into his teammates hands, or even back up to him. But it didn't. That is a lucky bounce. Good luck for the opponent and bad luck for the punt returner.
Single, random plays like this occur in every game, every week. And yes, they do occasionally give one team or the other a momentary advantage that may even win or lose a game. However, describing the way the Vols completely overwhelm their opponents for extended periods of time as luck is simply wrong.
For one, it's not accurate. But more importantly, it dismisses the incredible play that has been required over and over in these situations as "lucky." Instead of a tag like "cardiac kids" or something that would similarly create an image of a team playing incredible football to get back in games, the Vols get lucky.
The unfairness is in the way the media has apparently decided to latch on this as a single word to describe one of the greatest seasons to date of one of the top college football programs in history. That word is "lucky." Suddenly, the University of Tennessee has been lucky to go 5-1 year to date.
The magnificent pass and won't be denied effort to catch that hail mary pass versus Georgia was a lucky play for Tennessee. Really, I have never, not even in jest, heard Doug Flutie's pass to Phelon to get Boston College the 47-45 win over Miami referred to as a lucky pass. I have heard it called a miracle. But miracle has a completely different connotation than lucky.
It wouldn't be called luck if it was Alabama
I don't buy into that the media has got it out for the Vols thing. I just think it was picked up on as a concise way of telling the story. And, it's working. Even Texas A&M Coach Kevin Sumlin referred to stopping the Vols luck in his halftime sideline interview during the game!
Nick Saban and Bama nation would have a fit if their win over Clemson last season was continually referred to as lucky. Rightfully so. Likewise, what this Tennessee football team has accomplished in 2016 is not a result of being lucky. #Sports Highlights