banner
NC State

Renner a victim of circumstance

Posted November 8, 2013

UNC quarterback Bryn Renner (2) scambles during play at Kenan Stadium between the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the Boston College Eagles on October 26, 2013 in Chapel Hill, NC.

— In Malcolm Gladwell’s most popular book, Outliers, he touches on an oddity in the world of hockey. Gladwell noticed that players born earlier in the calendar year tended to be more successful throughout their careers. It seems that the randomness of one’s birth drastically affected the type of team one played with when they were young, and the attention they got from their coaches.

The details of why this was happening are interesting but not as important as Gladwell’s overall point: it’s possible that our successes and failures in life are much less under our control than we’d like to think.

In general, people don’t like this idea — especially in sports. It’s convenient to see why wealthy families stay wealthy and why most Irish grow up Catholic. But not with sports - and not with individual success.

Fans want to imagine that their MVPs and Hall of Famers got there from hours spent perfecting their craft — not because Wayne Gretzky was born in January instead of November.

Fans have to believe Michael Jordan would have won six titles regardless of whether or not Jerry Krause (Jordan’s arch-nemesis) had drafted an obscure lanky forward from Central Arkansas by the name of Scottie Pippen (thereby inventing Jay Bilas’ two favorite draft terms: wingspan and potential). They have to believe that Tom Brady wins three Super Bowls even if Mo Lewis doesn’t burst a blood vessel in Drew Bledsoe’s chest in 2001.

Fans won’t easily admit it, but it’s possible that nowhere are people more a victim of circumstance than in the world of sports; the precise place they want to pretend it doesn’t exist.

We’ll never know if Eli Manning would be as “clutch” if David Tyree didn’t have Stick-um on his helmet, just like we’ll never know if Bryn Renner would have broken most of UNC’s quarterback records had he not suffered a shoulder injury against NC State.

Renner’s career is not over, but it is at UNC. The play that did him in was a 3rd quarter scramble that ended with the quarterback sandwiched between two State defenders. There’s been discussion over whether the hits were late (they were, but not “dirty” or uncommon in a football game by any means), but most fan-talk has revolved around the records Renner was closing in on as one of the most prolific passers in UNC history.

It seems that Renner’s assault on those records is a victim of circumstance like so many before. But this can go both ways. Renner’s unlucky break this season overshadows his luck from the year before.

In 2012, the quarterback was lining up with perhaps the most talented running back in UNC history, Gio Bernard. Would Renner’s offense have been as potent as it was a year ago had Bernard stayed committed to Notre Dame? Or does Renner shatter UNC season records in 2012 if he doesn’t have multiple All-Americans and future NFL-draftees blocking for him?

T.J. Yates would love to know. Yates owns most of those records Renner was approaching, and Yates spent the majority of his four seasons running for his life behind a makeshift O-line that was more a patchwork than an actual line. Maybe Renner wouldn’t even have had a chance at those records had Yates seen the benefit of James Hurst and Jonathan Cooper throughout his career.

But then again, maybe Yates isn’t even in the discussion if he doesn’t have current NFL starters Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate catching his passes.

Fans often think of individual records in a vacuum, as though receivers don’t have to make all those catches for their QBs and linemen don’t have to open holes for a running back to ever gain an inch — just like how Renner might have had an entirely different career had circumstances broken another way.

Renner’s story will always be tough to define. He played under three coaches. He never won a bowl game. He helped obliterate UNC’s single-season offensive marks in 2012. But, his legacy will fall short of any career records.

Maybe that matters. Maybe it doesn’t.

The full title of Malcolm Gladwell’s book is actually Outliers: The Story of Success. And perhaps that’s an important point. One’s success is always part of a story, with plotlines they can - and more importantly, sometimes cannot - control. Renner’s is no different. He was along for the ride, and as anyone close to him will tell you, he loved every minute of it. He loved being a Tar Heel. Regardless of his circumstances, he’ll certainly never consider himself a victim, just another willing participant in the story that is sports.

6 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • snapjack Nov 9, 10:31 a.m.

    this is the 5th story about renner since his season was declared over. a bit overkill if you ask... View More

    — Posted by 903 Hook em banned

    Who's asking you? Maybe WRAL should submit their content for your approval first.

  • 903 Hook em banned Nov 8, 7:56 p.m.

    this is the 5th story about renner since his season was declared over. a bit overkill if you ask me...

  • jamestownbball Nov 8, 6:51 p.m.

    Gladwell thinks football should be outlawed in college

  • snapjack Nov 8, 5:21 p.m.

    This may in fact be the most useless article I have ever read. Thank you to whomever wrote... View More

    — Posted by Maxxx

    Sounds like the rest of us reading your posts

  • raleighboy524 Nov 8, 4:32 p.m.

    This makes absolutely no sense. No wonder no one's name is on it.

  • Maxxx Nov 8, 4:18 p.m.

    This may in fact be the most useless article I have ever read. Thank you to whomever wrote this.... I will never get that 7 minutes of my life back. I hope you are happy.

  • CBB: North Carolina vs. Ohio State

    Saturday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CBB: UCLA vs Kentucky

    Saturday at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: San Diego at San Francisco

    Saturday at 8:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Panthers vs. Cleveland

    Monday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NHL: Hurricanes vs. Toronto

    Tomorrow at 7:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • CBB: Duke vs. UConn

    Tomorrow at 8:00 pm on 620am

  • WBB: Duke vs. UMass Lowell

    Friday at 6:30 pm on 620am

Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCCU 108
BASC 52
 
Final
CHA 106
PHO 111
Final
NCSU 83
TENN 72
Final
CLE 98
ATL 127
Final
CHA 106
PHO 111
Final
DET 106
DAL 117
Final
BOS 109
ORL 92
Final
MIA 87
UTA 105
Final
TOR 105
BRK 89
2nd OT
SAN 102
MEM 102
 
Half
POR 43
MIL 41
 
2nd
DEN 29
HOU 26
 
2nd
LAC 36
IND 35
 
Final
UNT 78
LANG 65
 
Final
Terriers 64
DELST 72
 
Final
MSST 55
ARKST 69
Final
NCCU 108
BASC 52
 
Final
GMAS 99
CATAWBA 69
 
Final
WOFF 64
CSOU 58
 
Final
HIGH 106
FERR 48
 
Final
JVU 68
GWEBB 65
 
Final
ILL 73
HAMP 55
 
Final
BST 52
JMU 72
 
Final
YOUNG 84
KNST 90
 
Final
UMO 71
LONG 60
 
Final
PITT 65
MAN 56
Final
OSU 97
NCAT 55
Final
FSU 93
UNF 77
 
Final
TOL 83
RMU 57
 
Final
CAMP 70
SIUE 65
 
Final
DUQ 52
RFLSH 67
 
Final
NCSU 83
TENN 72
Final
UCF 75
DET 70
Final
UNCW 73
LIB 70
 
Final
LOYC 83
ABCHRIST 44
 
Final
MURST 94
ALCOR 56
 
Final
HOU 56
ARKPB 61
 
Final
NW 67
CMICH 80
Final
WKENT 75
CHIST 60
 
Final
ODU 58
UGST 54
Final
SMU 67
ILLCH 46
Final
LALAF 115
MLGN 76
 
Final
TULSA 74
MIZST 70
 
Final
UWGB 66
MORE 50
 
Final
NEOM 92
NCOL 82
 
Final
TTU 101
SCST 39
 
Final
DEN 83
TAMCC 73
 
Final
STEPH 66
TXST 60
 
Final
STLU 75
TXPA 69
 
Final
MEM 83
USCU 73
 
Final
ILLST 64
TENNM 54
 
Final
MSU 66
EMICH 46
 
Final
GRCN 80
INCWORD 82
 
Final
STAN 67
LMU 58
Final
BAY 66
NMST 55
 
3rd
CIN 57
SDST 57
 
Final
AUB 80
WINT 62
 
2nd
NMU 41
CARK 34
 
2nd
PEPP 34
HOW 27
 
2nd
CPSL 36
NE 40
 
1st
UNLV 26
PORT 29
 
1st
OREG 4
CSNO 5
 
1st
WASH 7
GRAM 3
 
Final
NJD 0
OTT 2
Final
MIN 2
BOS 3
2nd
VAN 0
DAL 1