New athletic director Phillip Fulmer said we should help new coach Jeremy Pruitt however we can in his first big game of catch-up.
Never in his life has Jeremy been as far behind as he is right now in trying to resurrect Tennessee football. The Volunteers, present and recently past, lost all eight games against Southeastern Conference foes and some of those setbacks were not particularly close.
- Georgia 41-0.
- Alabama 45-7.
- Missouri 50-17.
- LSU 30-10.
- Vanderbilt 42-24.
Tennessee has a limited supply of inspirational wisdom and coaching slogans to encourage and motivate because the chief architect is gone and most of the stuff Butch said has been swept away. But I have some, from other sources, carefully preserved in my vault, just in case demand ever exceeds supply.
Coach Pruitt, only 40, may not have heard my favorite Jerry Rice story.
Bo Eason, a former NFL safety, said the veterans in training camp would run a quick pass route, turn, catch the ball, run a few more steps and jog back to the starting line. Along came Jerry Rice. He would sprint out, turn on a dime, catch the pass, and sprint however far it was, sometimes 80 yards, to the end zone.
He did it every time. Eason asked why.
Rice responded: “Every time these hands touch that ball, the ball is going to the end zone.
“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t. The enemy of best is good enough. If you’re always settling for what’s good, you’ll never be the best.”
Considering that Jerry Rice scored 197 NFL touchdowns – 41 more than second best – it seems like a good-enough strategy to follow. Practice like a champ, and play like a champion!
Do you suppose our new coach can use that? No charge.
Think about this one. It might be a hand-me-down from Vince Lombardi. He was a somewhat famous philosopher who also coached, in a different era, before Pruitt was born.
“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them football is much more serious than that.”
There are others.
You can learn more character on the two-yard line than anywhere else in life.
It is better to be in the parade than to just watch it.
The late, great Paul Bryant made practices more difficult than games. His logic was, if a player was going to quit, it was better that he give up in practice than in a game.
Never forget that Goliath was a 40-point favorite over David.
Football is not a contact sport. It is a collision sport. Dancing is a contact sport.
It takes years to build a reputation and a few seconds to ruin it.
The name on the front of the jersey matters more than the name on the back.
Never learn to lose. It could become a habit.
Talent determines what you can do. Motivation determines how much you are willing to do. Attitude determines how well you do it.
If hard lessons are learned in defeat, some teams around here are getting one heck of an education.
The biggest game of your life is often followed by another biggest game of your life and after that, another. If you win, they keep getting bigger.
Do keep dreaming. Never give up. Defeat can be temporary.
Even if everybody says it’s impossible, it isn’t.
Football is somewhat like life. Success is not just for those who run fast, but also for those who keep running. The difference in winning and losing is often just not quitting.
In the football business, the results of your work, your team, are not hidden. The whole deal is out in the open, on full display, a dozen times a year. We all see the flaws. We can tell the difference in victories and defeats.
Ah, yes, here’s one from up on the top shelf, from Peyton Manning: “Pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.”
Aside to Coach Pruitt: I have others if you need them.
(Marvin West invites reader reaction. His address is firstname.lastname@example.org).