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Counterpoint: Get Cocky, Kid

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Why be humble when you're better than them?

The campus shown above is not that of Clemson University
The campus shown above is not that of Clemson University
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Vol:

I'm going to let you in on a little secret that many people know but that nobody really likes to talk about.  Humility is overrated, and sort of a charade.  Yes, I guess I do need you to strap on your humble face for the press conference, and so do that, but nobody watches those things anyway, so just go through the motions.  The rest of the time -- during the games, and in the way you prepare for the games, and in the mindset you should have for football now and for life for the rest of your life -- pursue greatness at all costs.  Even if you aren't great, never stop trying to be.  Why would you want to settle for anything less?

What's weird is that the previous three sentences don't represent particularly bold or controversial statements.  Nobody is going to disagree with the idea that you should strive to be excellent.  And yet many people will tell you that humility is a great and important virtue.  Listen, they're only telling you that because somebody told them that at one point, they never really thought about what it meant, and so they repeat it like it's meaningful.  People are sheepy like that.  But if you think about it, the whole idea of humility is sort of silly.  Striving for and achieving greatness in every aspect of your life is diametrically opposed to feeling inferior, insignificant, being unproud, and the like.  And the latter certainly comes at the expense of the former.  "Be great but outwardly project average."  Huh? Are you an actor?  Is this drama class?  Nah.  So don't even go through those silly motions.  Be courteous and respectful, of course, but greatness is not something you have to apologize for, or pursue in secret.

You go to Tennessee, which is a place that facilitates greatness.  You can be great here.  There is no ceiling on how great you and the rest of your teammates can be, and what you can achieve as a team.  Now some of the fanbase is a little bit beaten down right now.  The football fan version of battered wife syndrome, I suppose.  But all that disappointment stuff started years before you were here, and it's not going to linger for long because you're not going to let it linger for long.

You're better than the team you're playing on Saturday, and so believe it and play like it.  This is not the time to put a cap on how great you can be.  This a time to build momentum and to make the bounce in your step -- the swagger in your stride -- a habit, and part of who you are as a player and a person.

You're also better than every other player you'll line up against this year.  That's right, even those guys wearing Oklahoma and Alabama uniforms.  You're better than them and will give them their proper football whuppings when you play them. I'll be watching you, and giving you mad props along the way.  And in the event that you don't get the better of them on a particular day: put it behind you.  Have a short memory in that regard.  You're still better than next week's team.  This is true every single week. I can't stress this enough.

Go out there and comprehensively destroy Arkansas State.  Demonstrate that you're better than them in all aspects of the game, and don't apologize for it or stop said demonstration for a minute.  And then do it again next week, and the week after that.  Rinse. Lather. Repeat.  Dont' ever settle for anything less than absolute greatness, my friend.  You don't have to, because you don't go to Clemson.  You're a Vol.  Go be awesome.  Go Big Orange.

Good talk.

KidB