When Adam Butler arrived at Vanderbilt in 2012, he was a redshirt freshman who was expected to join the Commodores’ offensive line the following season. The plan was for Butler, who weighed 285 pounds, to get up to somewhere between 310 and 315 pounds at the end of his freshman year, ensuring a smooth transition into his duty of protecting the quarterback.
Then something happened that changed everything: a rib-eating contest.
Vanderbilt faced off against North Carolina State in the Music City Bowl that year, and one of the events during the week leading up to the game was a rib-eating contest between players from both teams. As one of the participants, Butler did his part by downing 23 ribs in the 60-second time limit. But when the judge awarded N.C. State the victory, Butler decided to speak up.
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“I don’t want to say there was an altercation, but for some reason, the judge voted that we lost the rib-eating contest, and I stood up and argued with the judge and said that was false because the other team [North Carolina State] had ribs on their plate,” Butler told the Nashville Post this week. “They were counting the bones, but they had ribs on their plate that didn’t have a bone in it, which means they just took the bone out of the rib and threw it in the tub. I said, ‘Uh-uh, no. You’re not about to count those ribs.’ I fought against it.”
Bob Shoops, Vanderbilt’s defensive coordinator at the time, was in the crowd, and he watched Butler’s impassioned plea, loving every second of it. His defensive line was short on bodies, and Shoops loved Butler’s fire, so he took the idea of switching him to head coach James Franklin (now the head man at Penn State).
“Coach Franklin brought me into his office and he asked me what I wanted,” Butler said. “I said I wanted to do whatever was best for the team, because we were sort of short on defensive linemen during that time period. That’s how that happened.”
Butler has amassed 101 tackles (25.5 for loss) and eight sacks during his four-year career at Vandy, all thanks to his contention that a rib-eating contest had been judged unfairly.