The Ring Race

By Jeff Beck on May 6, 2013 at 2:00p
Ring MeBeyonce demanding a ring for 2-10 Illinois

If you are in any way pleased with it than you should put a ring on it. 

That’s the message being sent by some college football coaches who have decided to hand out gaudy finger pieces to players as a signifier of a successful season, even if “successful” is up for interpretation.

As you know, your very own Ohio State recently caught some heat for distributing 12-0 rings to players to commemorate an undefeated season.

Let’s hear it, Mark!

Obviously Mark May despises the idea, but I’m of the camp that believes any flawless outing in terms of a sporting record shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Slightly more controversial is the practice of handing out rings commemorating valiant, albeit flawed campaigns. Let’s take a look at some of the 2012 efforts coaches deemed ring-worthy.

Division Champs

You didn't win the national championship, ok. You didn't go undefeated, ok. You didn't win your conference? No problem. Have a ring.

Recently Larry Fedora doled out championship rings for his Tarheels winning the ACC Coastal Division. The 2012 effort was not without its road bumps as North Carolina ended the year with an 8-4 record overall and a 5-3 record in conference.

Those numbers are less than stellar, and they’re compounded by the fact the Tarheels were ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions. Still, Fedora felt his boys deserved some bling, so shine is what they received.

Staying in the “Division Title Swag” space, Georgia also decided to hand out rings for winning one-half of the SEC. The Bulldogs’ hardware came via a respectable 12-2 season that saw them go 7-1 in conference.

While those numbers are incredibly impressive, especially in the war zone that is the SEC, the fact remains Georgia finished second in the conference, losing to Alabama in the SEC title game, 32-28. Looking at their swag, second place ain't half bad.

Bowl Champs 

No championship? No unblemished record? No conference crown...or division crown? Ummm ok. Have a ring.

Ring-mania also caught fire down in Texas, as Mack Brown decided to reward his 9-4 (5-4 in conference) squad with Alamo Bowl championship rings, despite the Longhorns finishing third in the Big 12. According to Brown’s Twitter feed, the rings were a reward for winning the bowl game and should serve as an impetus for momentum in 2013. 

Finally, we have Oregon, who recently received these gigantors for beating Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Ducks finished 12-1 overall with an 8-1 record in conference but failed to win their division thanks to a Stanford OT win against them in the regular season.

Everythings Bigger In Texas

The ring barely fits in a player’s hand, yet on paper Oregon’s season slipped right through them.

While I understand coaches wanting to show appreciation to players, are these pieces becoming a little too much?

Just take a look at the piece Brown handed out to his 9-4 Longhorns compared with the ring the 2005 squad received for their undefeated national championship winning season.

I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to determine (with the exception of the giant #1) which prize was awarded to the best team in college football, and which was given to a team that didn’t even finish first (or second) in its conference.

So I ask you the reader, what are your thoughts? Are these prizes warranted? Are they merely a recruiting tool? Or are these rings going to players' heads (because they're half as big as them)?


Comments Show All Comments

BuckeyeMark's picture

Winning a bowl and getting a ring has been around for a long long time.  It's part of winning a bowl.  No problem with that.  Some of this other stuff ... winning your division, etc seems a bit dicey and may just mean that having a ring doesn't mean as much.  Maybe then athletes won't value the rings and start selling them or swapping them for tats... oh wait...

Jeff Beck's picture

Great point. I'm fully aware of the Bowl Ring tradition, but just wondering if they are going a bit over the top. When Alamo Bowl rings look like National Championship rings it's an interesting development.

FROMTHE18's picture

indeed, OSU gets rings for bowl wins i believe, at least the BCS bowl wins

dumpus's picture

the hockey equivalent of this is hanging banners, and the hockey equivalent to the Heels are the Capitals.  they have something like 8 or 9 banners hung - none for ever actually winning the Cup, mind you.  they're all for winning a first round matchup in the playoffs and getting smoked in the 2nd. 
naturally, they're also all right next to the "Washington Mystics Attendance Champions" WNBA banners...

AndyVance's picture

These are definitely a recruiting tool. In the days of Twitter/Instagram, any excuse to have your school/team Tweeted and Retweeted with some "bling" is a good thing, at least conceptually.
What's ridiculous is how god-awful gaudy some of these rings are, as stated above, compared to the national title rings. The size of the reward should be in proportion to the size of the honor earned...
That Oregon ring is a case study in over-compensation.

Hovenaut's picture

Beyonce, championship rings and athletic achievement.

Should all be cool.

Or not....I think Mark May prefers the "Planet Hulk" Beyonce:

L-TownNut11's picture

I'm not in the diamond buisness, but what are the chances some of these are cz?  I mean, UNC probably doesnt make money off their football team and they are buying these rings for over 100 people?  I'm sure they are getting a great deal, but I would love to know how much they pay for each ring.....

southbymidwest's picture

Anyone surprised by this? Heck, if every kid gets a trophy for being on a soccer (or fill in the blank sports) team, then you have to expect how the progression is made.
Geez are those rings U-G-L-Y.

AndyVance's picture

Wow - great point. I hadn't even yet stopped to consider this as an outgrowth of the "everyone's a winner" mentality that is seriously eroding some of the most important lessons learned via youth sports. Thanks for bringing this up.

cajunbuckeye's picture

What kind of rings did the Carolina professors get for keeping the players eligible???

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

Hovenaut's picture

Probably the phone call variety.....

jbcuky's picture

Hmm, we can't pay our players, so instead let's give them rings consisting of gold and diamonds for "accomplishments" that they can then sell when they leave school for at least a couple of grand a piece.
Nothing to see here. Move along.

baddogmaine's picture

Whether or not and what kind of ring is warranted depends on whether the team achieved a goal the team and the accountants see as worth rewarding. I bet the first NW team that makes the Big Dance gets bling. On the other hand, if OSU is serious that nothing but an NC is a real goal then no Buckeye should get jewelry for anything less. If Texas wants to reward mediocrity that's their business - I'm not there, I'm not goin'. (I do think that positive reinforcement for young kids is different. Kids should be made to feel like winners - not every child is going to become an athlete, but every child should feel that effort is appreciated. Just include with the message that they should always aim high.)

IBleedSandG's picture

Holy crap, Oregon's rings are stupid big. Your finger would get sore from wearing that thing all day.
I think you should get a ring for (applying it to BCS conference teams):
- Winning a MNC
- Winning your conference
- Winning a BCS Game
And I guess for winning your division.


SaltyD0gg's picture

Let them celebrate mediocrity. We'll keep going undefeated and have fodder for mocking them.
If they need a participation ring to keep coming and get motivated for next year, it's not hard to see why they were 9-4.

Pain of Discipline

Pain of Regret

Take Your Pick

jbcuky's picture

It's naive to think that's what it is for.
Coach: "Compliance Officer, I want to give everyone on the team $5,000."
Compliance Officer: "Coach, you can't do that."
Coach: "How about a $5,000 ring for going 9-4?"
Compliance Officer: "Yeah, that's fine."

tennbuckeye19's picture

Jostens is making a butt load of money these days...

rider1's picture

Larry Fedora coaches NC State. Roy Williams coaches NC.

AndyVance's picture

Larry Fedora is the head coach of the University of North Carolina football team. Roy Williams is head coach of the University of North Carolina basketball team.
Dave Doeren is the head coach of the North Carolina State football team, aka NC State, home of the BALLERS.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

I can understand Oregon handing out rings since they did win a BCS game.  That is a huge win.  Now the ring does look a little big.   I have no problem with OSU handing out a ring for running the table.  That is really hard to do.  It took a lot of skill, talent and of course some luck to have the ball bounce our way a few times.  I just hope in the next few years we will be the ones handing out Championship rings for winning a huge bowl game.  The future is looking bright!  I see it happening.
Go Bucks!

BuckeyeNationProblems's picture

Hoke has a buffet line championship ring


Haybucks's picture

Or to keep it simple for him, with ring sizer...

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


Haybucks's picture

Mark May has an integrity meter?  Haha.  Really?  How would he know if it's calibrated?

Just a checking my integrity meter didn't know you could give out 12-0 rings when your on probation or banned from bowls..just a thought

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


Tomc383's picture

Mark May has a sphincter ring....which no one knows since it is hidden because MARK MAY WEARS WOMEN'S UNDERWEAR


BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

Shoot... 2 years ago, Alabama didn't get a ring, they got to play in the national championship game, just for finishing second in their division.