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The 2017 Life Championship tracker: Butch Jones’ award reverts back to Tennessee after his firing

We’ve tracked the made-up title belt’s movements all year. Tennessee now has it forever, per our rules.

Who has the Champions of Life belt?

  • Nov. 21 to Nov. 27, 2016: Tennessee
  • Nov. 27 to Dec. 26, 2016: Vanderbilt
  • Dec. 26, 2016 to Sept. 2, 2017: NC State
  • Sept. 2, 2017 to Sept. 16, 2017: South Carolina
  • Sept. 16, 2017 to Sept. 23, 2017: Kentucky
  • Sept. 23, 2017 to Sept. 30: Tennessee (reverted to Tennessee by rule, since Florida was ineligible due to being ranked)
  • Sept. 30, 2017 to Oct. 9, 2017: (Vacated by ranked Georgia beating Tennessee, and we didn’t feel like reverting it directly back to Tennessee)
  • Oct. 9, 2017 to Oct. 14, 2017: Tennessee, due to the following:
  • Oct. 14, 2017 to Nov. 4, 2017: South Carolina (by beating Tennessee)
  • Nov. 4, 2017 to Nov. 11, 2017: Georgia (by beating South Carolina)
  • Nov. 11, 2017 to Nov. 12, 2017: Auburn (by beating Georgia)
  • Nov. 12, 2017 until eternity: Tennessee (in honor of firing Butch Jones)

Wait, what is the Champions of Life belt?

In 2016, Tennessee squandered a 5-0 start and wins over Florida and Georgia and lost the SEC East race to the Gators. But Vols coach Butch Jones emphasized the positives:

Tennessee became the Champions of Life in that moment, period. (This was one of several goofy motivational statements by Jones.)

Unfortunately, Tennessee lost to Vanderbilt right after Jones’ comment. That means the Commodores took the Life Championship Belt away.

Then NC State beat Vanderbilt in their bowl game. That made the Wolfpack the Life Champions for a solid nine months heading into the 2017 season. But then, in Week 1, South Carolina beat NC State to take the belt for itself. The Gamecocks held the Belt until Kentucky beat them in Week 3. The Wildcats then lost to Florida, but because of the rules of the belt, that simply reverted it back to Tennessee.Georgia knocked the belt off the Vols, but we’ve handed it right back after Jones’ conquest of the bye week.

Then South Carolina beat Tennessee, taking the belt for the second time:

And on and on it went.

But in light of Jones’ firing, we’ve put the belt to rest.

I considered giving the belt to Nebraska’s Mike Riley after he said his sub-.500 team had very few issues “besides the games,” but it felt disrespectful not to bury the belt along with the tenure of the coach who birthed it. It wouldn’t be right.

The rules for the Life Championship belt were simple:

  1. If you beat the current Life Champ, you became the Life Champ. That gave the belt a chance to traverse the entire country in one season.
  2. However, being the Life Champ is only an honor for teams that are not actually likely to be the champions of anything. Therefore, any team that was ranked in the AP Poll was ineligible. A ranking reverted the belt to Tennessee, so long as Tennessee was unranked. (Obviously, we didn’t have to worry about that so much.)
  3. If both the latest winner and Tennessee were ranked, or if a ranked team took the belt off Tennessee, then we’d make up another rule on the spot. This included our reserving the right to give Tennessee the belt forever upon Jones’ firing, which has now happened.