During last night’s Men’s NCAA National Championship game between the University of Virginia (“UVA”) Cavaliers and Texas Tech University Red Raiders, CBS sports announcers Jim Nantz, Grant Hill and Bill Raftery compared UVA head coach Tony Bennett to former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy regarding their similar paths to championship seasons after losing as number one seeds and turning to their faith and family for support.
“In that loss last year, Grant, Tony Dungy sent Tony Bennett – just recently even – a text and said he admired just how he handled that defeat, the grace in defeat,” said Jim Nantz. “Tony had called it a painful gift, one that brought him closer to his faith and family.”
“And Tony Dungy knows what it was like in 2005, with his Colts – they lost to the Steelers,” Grant Hill stated. “They were the number one seed in the AFC playoffs. Came back the next season, 2006, [and] won the Super Bowl against the Chicago Bears. Looks like the same thing is going to happen here tonight for the Virginia Cavaliers and Tony Bennett.”
“Two similar men, right there,” concluded Jim Nantz.
The CBS announcers’ comments came during the overtime period of the game between UVA and Texas Tech University, Grant Hill reflecting on Tony Dungy and the AFC top-seeded Colts’ 21-18 Divisional Playoff game loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dungy said about the game, “We have to use the disappointment to fuel our fire for next year. And we have to look ahead and see what we can do a little better to get ourselves in position again and then take advantage of it.” And according to Colts.com, “That mission would be accomplished in 2006, when the Colts would heed Dungy’s words and bring home the Super Bowl trophy.”
Said Bill Raftery about UVA’s historical loss to UMBC in the NCAA Tournament the previous year, “You know, this is a tribute to character, the coach, the team – they live with this. And of course, [they’ve] bemoaned it all year long. Just an incredible attitude, stick-to-itiveness – amazing.”
UVA, according to NCAA.com, “[t]he only top seed to fall to a No. 16 in the history of the NCAA Tournament[,] is now the only team to come back from such a loss and win a championship the very next season.” Coach Tony Bennett said about his team’s loss to UMBC, “I wish it wouldn't have happened in some ways. But now I say, ‘Well, it bought us a ticket here. So be it.’”
As reported by USA Today, the UVA coach also said the following about last year’s loss:
“I’m thankful in a way for what happened because it did, it drew me closer, most importantly, to my faith in the Lord, drew me closer to my wife and children, just because you realize what’s unconditional. In those spots when the world’s telling you you’re a failure, you’re a loser, and you’re the worst thing going and all that stuff, you say, ‘OK, what really matters?’ And it pushed me to that in a way.”