We at MrSEC.com aren’t big on coaches who refuse to say the names of rivals. Woody Hayes famously wouldn’t say Michigan. Gerry DiNardo wouldn’t say Tennessee. Dan Mullen won’t say Ole Miss. There are plenty of other examples out there.
Yesterday, the world learned of a new one. Tennessee’s Butch Jones is trying avoid the word, “Alabama,” this week as his fresh-off-an-upset Vols prepare to face their longtime rival in Tuscaloosa. UT players aren’t getting ready to play Bama this week, they’re getting ready to play “the red team.”
Silly? Perhaps. But at least Jones has provided his team with a reason — other than “hate” — for his use of the “red team” moniker. So says Vol receiver Alton “Pig” Howard:
“Mentally, just by their name, when teams hear that name, they’re mentally beat already before they step on the field. I give them credit, but we’ve got warriors on our team as well. We’re ready to go to war.”
(A short pause for the literalists out there to bark about a player comparing football to war… blah, blah, blah, got it.)
The fact that Jones is playing name games in order to make his players more aware of the fact that they’re facing a football team — not Gods — actually seems rather smart. Unfortunately for Tennessee, the Volunteers would have a much better chance at Bryant-Denny Stadium if some generic “red team” were scheduled to show up… rather than top-ranked Alabama.
Remember what the noted football guru Shakespeare said: “A rose by any other name.”