There is only one ring I have ever given to anyone. It was to my wife when I asked her to marry me. In my life, it was a championship event because there is no way I was good enough for her to say yes to when I popped the question.
Then, there are head coaches in college football. If you receive a ring from one, don’t assume it is in celebration of a special event. These guys are quick to give away rings for almost any old reason—championship or not.
Consider coach Mack Brown and Texas first. Longhorn players were awarded their prize for a glorious 9-4 season and bowl victory that created “momentum” for the program. Is this really what Texas football has become?
Then there is the list of guys who "almost" won their conference title.
North Carolina players received their rings for landing in a three way tie for the ACC’s Coastal Division title. What was the record at Chapel Hill in football last season? 8-4. Rings all around! Oh, by the way, the Tar Heels were not even eligible for postseason play because of those sticky academic fraud and agent issues.
Ohio State posted a great 12-0 record, and Urban Meyer also popped out the rings for his players. However, they did win their Big Ten division, although there is not a person outside the conference who can tell you if it was legends or leaders.
Though they may have won their division, it is hard to celebrate these Buckeye’s as well. After all, they were not eligible to really play for anything in the way of an actual title because a prior coaching staff had cheated along the way, like NC.
Then there is Georgia. Georgia shared the divisional title with Florida, but at least they had no limitations on their ability to play for something more than pride. But really, is a Georgia season that ended in the SEC title game (and yes, that is when it really ended) with a loss to Alabama and a trip to the Capital One Bowl to play Nebraska reason to hand out jewelry?
Should schools give out rings for anything less than a conference or national title?
Do schools that really believe they have a championship caliber program pass out jewelry for minor successes?
If so, we need to give Vanderbilt players from last year rings. It is, historically, a whole lot bigger deal to be 9-4 as a Commodore than a Longhorn.
SMU should be measuring players hands for their 43-10 win over Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl. Any bowl after the NCAA death penalty is significant for these guys. Think about it, Ohio State and North Carolina were never dealt that hand.
There should be a rule…no, I don’t like rules. There should be common sense applied by schools that dictates they will only give out rings on two occasions: When they actually win their conference title, and when they win a national championship.
The LSU Tiger team that won the SEC title in 2011 and lost in the BCS Championship game to the Crimson Tide were appropriately given rings to celebrate their conference success. The conference title was recognized, but a big number two was on one side, reflecting the less than satisfactory finish to the season.
That is a ring that can be respected. At least it told a true story of the season.