Vol-lympics are no more, but VFL Challenge is its winter replacement

Butch Jones talks to reporters after the season-ending game at Kentucky (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Did you plan to gear up for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi by monitoring the Vol-lympics?

Did you already place bets on the strongest Vol-lympic team?

Did you buy T-shirts to support your favorite Vol-lympic squad?

If so, there’s some bad news. The Vol-lympics are no more.

The good news? It’s replacement seems like basically the same thing with a less exciting name.

The VFL Challenge (sometimes rendered #VFLChallenge) is under way. The emphasis is more on grades and community service than any sort of physical challenges. But the competition element is intact.

“The VFL challenge is the foundation of our off-season personal growth and development program,” coach Butch Jones said in a release this week. “It incorporates all aspects of our VFL program; academic excellence, being champions in the community and becoming an overall better football player and team each and everyday.”

Here are the eight teams with coaches and captains:

Offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian

Captains — A.J. Johnson, Marquez North

Tight ends coach, special teams coordinator Mark Elder

Captains — Kyler Kerbyson, Riley Ferguson

Give My All
Running backs coach Robert Gillespie

Captains — Nathan Peterman, Justin Coleman

Defensive coordinator John Jancek

Captains — Brian Randolph, Jason Croom

Offensive line coach Don Mahoney

Captains — Joshua Dobbs, Jordan Williams

Defensive backs coach Willie Martinez

Captains — Marcus Jackson, Curt Maggitt

Linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen

Captains — Justin Worley, Cameron Sutton

Defensive line coach, assistant head coach Steve Stripling

Captains — Corey Vereen, Mack Crowder

Wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni, not listed as one of the team coaches, will serve as a sort of co-commissioner alongside quality control assistant Terry Fair.

Want to handicap the race? Here’s how UT says teams will earn (or lose) points:

1. The Vol Way — Players who add value to the program through community service can earn points, but will lose points if they do anything that reflect negatively on the program or are late to practice, meetings, class, etc.

2. Degree Seeker – Vols to earn A’s or B’s on quizzes, papers and tests will add five points to their total, but D’s and F’s negate five points. Students of the week add 10 points to the team total.

3. Work To Win – Any player named the Vol of the Day or Week will earn 10 points and players are eligible for any amount of points based on Jones’ discretion.

That last part seems like a huge loophole. But lest we doubt the integrity of the VFL Challenge, you can follow the details on UT’s official site.