It was a hot Saturday afternoon at Hard Rock stadium. The day was September 2nd, the first full Saturday of college football, and the Hurricanes were getting ready to kick off their season vs Bethune-Cookman.
About 15 minutes before game time, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, came up to head coach Mark Richt and said he had this thing called the turnover chain and it was going be given out to the player who got a turnover. Coach Richt ok’d the idea, not fully knowing the extent of the chain or what it looked like. Later on in that game, the turnover chain was awarded for the first time. And the cameras caught the gaudy cuban linked masterpiece being worn on the sideline. From there, the internet took over and the chain went viral. A star was born.
Since then, the turnover chain has taken the college football world by storm and has helped give Miami it’s patented swagger back. The Hurricanes are currently third in the nation in turnover margin and became the first team since 2011 this past Saturday night to create four turnovers in four straight games.
Coaches are now even game planning against this thing. Part of Brian Kelly’s strategy going into the game this past Saturday was no different than any other coach going into any game, don’t allow turnovers. But this time, it wasn’t just because of how damaging a turnover can be to your chances of winning a game, it was because he did not want the crowd and the players to be energized by an appearance of the chain. The turnover happened early on in that one, and it was game over from there.
I don’t think it is hyperbole to say at this point, that not in the history of college football…and maybe even sports in general, has an inanimate object meant so much to a team and it’s fan base. The team and the crowd got more excited at every turnover this past Saturday than they did for each touchdown. Trust me, I was there, and I have never seen or heard anything like it. The windows of the press box shook when Trajan Bandy picked off that pass before half time for a pick six. And wasn’t because of the touchdown.
And then there is the merchandise. T-shirts, coffee mugs, and even chain replicas are all selling like hot cakes. I mean, the thing even has its own hit rap song right now for pete’s sake.
Simply put, the turnover chain has changed the landscape of college football this season and has changed the way Miami is viewed by its opponents. It is one of the reasons why the U is back.
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