Monday, December 2, 2013

Getting "Lucky": Auburn and Ohio State

Last Saturday in College Football, the #3 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes and the #4 ranked Auburn Tigers got lucky.  At least that is what some fans and pundits will tell you. 

The Buckeyes narrowly escaped defeat when Michigan’s two-point conversion pass was intercepted in the final seconds of the game.  Even more telling, the fall of Alabama increased the possibility that an Urban Meyer team would luck their way into another BCS National Championship game for the second time in a decade (their 2006 invite came as a result of UCLA's upset of then undefeated USC).

And the Tigers, well, let’s just say that it isn’t common for the Crimson Tide (the two-time defending National Champions) to miss four field goals and allow a 107 yard touchdown run with one second remaining on the clock.  And then there was the instant replay that put one crucial second back on the clock.  Uncanny!

While it is true that Ohio State and Auburn both enjoyed some luck on Saturday, what wasn’t luck were the accomplishments both teams had earned leading up up to their fortunate victories.  Hard work, sacrifice, consistent play over time, and winning a lot of games the old fashioned way were preludes to their lucky breaks Saturday night.  To illustrate, consider the following facts...

Last season, Auburn was abysmal, finishing with a losing record of 3-9.  Their coach, Gene Chizik, was fired despite leading his team to a National Championship only two years previously.  This year, working with a brand new coach – Gus Malzahn the Tigers rebounded astoundingly to win all but one game. This all led up to Saturday – the legendary Iron Bowl against Alabama, who entered the game 11-0 and ranked #1 in the country.   

Ohio State finished the 2011 season with a disappointing 6-7 record after their coach – Jim Tressel – resigned in infamy due to an off-the-field scandal.  The following season, the Buckeyes were banned from playing in a bowl game.  Despite this drama, their new coach – Urban Meyer – and his staff and team went to work.  Instead of complaining about the troubled situation he inherited, Meyer quietly and confidently led his team to an undefeated 12-0 record, and a #3 season ending ranking.  This year, the Buckeyes have played their way to a second consecutive 12-0 record.  Ohio State has now won 24 games in a row – a school record – and the longest current winning streak (by far) in college football.    

Because these two teams paid the price over time to be successful, they were poised to take advantage of the fortunate (aka lucky) situations that came their way on Saturday.    

So it is with you, me, and all other individuals and organizations.  Luck on the scale that Ohio State and Auburn enjoyed on Saturday night does not occur capriciously; it is earned bit-by-bit over time the old fashioned way.  Everyone gets “lucky” sometimes, and everyone gets “unlucky” on occasion, but authentic successes that appear lucky are usually just capped by luck in the same way that a thin layer of icing covers a cake, or a little spoonful of whipped cream and cherry tops a deep milkshake.  

Yes, Auburn and Ohio State got lucky Saturday night, but the reality is that both teams proved over time that they were worthy of, and prepared for, luck when it came their way.  Will you be worthy of your luck when it strikes?

The next time you find yourself calling some person – or organization – lucky, look deeper at the journey that led to their so-called luck.  You will find that their success usually extends much deeper than the moment they "got lucky." 

Luck Quotables


“Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance.  Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson


“I’m a great believer in luck.  I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” 
– Thomas Jefferson 


“People always call it luck when you have acted more sensibly than they have.”
– Anne Tyler

1 comment:

  1. Great article. As a supports nut of a team that seemed to get no luck this year your article has made me wonder about those teams that happen to get the short side of luck in sports. Did Alabama prepare any less than Auburn? Not sure we can answer that from the outside and even if we had inside information our answer would seem more like a judgment based on incomplete information. That is the great thing about sports, the bounces are not always even specially when the sport uses an oblong shaped ball. Just like life where the "ball" is not perfectly round and lady luck doesn't always since your way. It will be interesting to see how these "unlucky" teams rebound in their next games just as it is to see how people deal with the bad breaks life brings them. Thanks for this article Jordan. - Kent

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