Earlier today, UK handed out bowl rings to the team to celebrate the 2016 season, which caused quite the stir in the comments section because not only did Kentucky lose the TaxSlayer Bowl, one side of the ring celebrates the win over Louisville. Critics complained that the rings were like participation trophies and that Kentucky should be “above” such things. “Why stoop to Indiana’s level,” I’ve read more than twice.
Well, I’m here to tell you that actually, it’s completely normal. Before the TaxSlayer Bowl, it had been a while since Kentucky played in a bowl, so maybe we all forgot, but pretty much every team that participates in a bowl gets rings, regardless of whether or not they win. Teams give them to players as a way to reward them for a season of hard work and it’s been happening that way for a long, long time. If a team wins the bowl, their rings will read “Bowl Champs.” If not, the team will come up with something else, like, just the name of the bowl, as Ole Miss did after losing the Peach Bowl to TCU 42-3 in 2015:
— Hugh Freeze (@CoachHughFreeze) May 29, 2015
Florida State even made up a fictional state championship to put on their 2015 rings:
— FSU Football (@FSU_Football) June 23, 2016
And for those of you complaining about having the Louisville score on the side? TONS of schools do this, including Louisville! Here’s their 2015 Music City Bowl ring, which celebrates their five-year winning streak over Kentucky:
Louisville also got rings for the 2011 season, even though it ended with a loss in the Belk Bowl and a 7-6 record. But hey, that Big East Championship!
And lest we forget Rick Pitino honoring his 2016 seniors with championship rings even though they couldn’t compete in the postseason because of a self-imposed ban for the sex scandal:
Inscription inside senior rings: I will always have your back. It's been a privilege to coach you. Love you Coach P pic.twitter.com/uykJilR6W9
— Kenny Klein (@KKcards) March 2, 2016
Is it a little cheesy? Sure. But it’s also normal. And for the players that have helped turn the program around, it’s a pretty nice gesture:
— JD Harmon (@JDVibezzz) April 18, 2017
Even though Jeff Badet’s at Oklahoma now, he appreciated the gesture:
Took some of us a whole 4 years to get our finger on one of these. 💍 it was worth the wait. 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/9g3crdXDI4
— Jeff Badet (@uk_jb4) April 18, 2017
He especially liked the part about beating Louisville, arguably the most important win Kentucky football has had since the 2007 season:
So, the next time a Louisville fan tries to make fun of Kentucky for doing this, just send them this post. Even if it’s just to remind them that Lamar fumbled.