Tennessee did not live up to the lofty expectations set for it in 2016. Though the Vols did end an 11-game losing stream to the SEC East-rival Gators, they also lost three straight games in October (including to South Carolina) and failed to make their first appearance int he SEC Championship Game since 2007.
Credit coach Butch Jones as actively trying to salvage the season by looking for silver linings in a disappointing Tennessee campaign.
After Saturday's win over Missouri, he refused to dwell on Florida winning the SEC East, instead focusing on the 2016 season as a whole. "I'm not gonna sit here and talk about [not winning the SEC East]," he said via Wes Rucker of 247Sports. "We just won our eighth game. That hasn't been done here in a while."
That's not correct, of course, as the Vols not only won eight regular-season games in 2015 but finished with nine victories after routing Northwestern 45-6 in the Outback Bowl.
Jones was back at it on Monday, expressing that he is not going to linger on Tennessee losing the SEC East during a season in which everything was supposed to come together for the Vols. Instead, Jones praised Tennessee for winning "the biggest championship -- that's the championship of life."
Taken on it's own, that's a quote that's easy to mock (see below), but Jones truly meant it in a heartfelt and deeper manner. Here's what he actually said in full.
This is the full "championship of life" quote from Butch Jones today.— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) November 21, 2016
He was asked about his emotions during Senior Day: pic.twitter.com/8EaoK8H7Ht
Still, the reaction GIFs were priceless.
Seriously, there are so many more. But here's the real winner.