Sunday, July 22, 2018
Colleges

Buzz around the bling: Turnover chain links Miami, fans

MIAMI ó When Miami defensive lineman RJ McIntosh scooped up a fumble last week against Virginia Tech, he rumbled as fast as his 6-foot-4, 293-pound frame would carry him.

He didnít reach the end zone, so the junior had to settle for the next best thing. McIntosh went over to the sideline, took off his helmet and waited for director of player development, Joel Rodriguez, to place the hottest fashion statement in South Florida around his neck.

"I finally got it," McIntosh said.

Behold, the power of the turnover chain, 5 Ĺ pounds of gaudy gold and sapphires that ó even more than No. 7 Hurricanesí 8-0 start ó shows The U is on its way back.

When UM wanted a way to celebrate takeaways, like how Alabama does with its Ball Out Belt, it turned to local A-list jeweler AJ Machado. The King of Bling delivered a Cuban link chain that fits Miamiís culture, and a giant orange and green logo that shows the swag The U had when it won five national championships from 1983-2001.

Sophomore defensive back Malek Young was the first to wear it formally, after his interception in the opener against Bethune-Cookman. Cameras and social media caught on. The turnover chain went viral.

"Sometimes things just catch on like fire," íCanes coach Mark Richt said.

Two months later, itís everywhere.

ESPN created a special graphic to spotlight the chainís recipient ó something it used four times last week in UMís 28-10 win over No. 13 Virginia Tech. Rapper SoLo D posted a song about it on YouTube: "See big homie get a fumble/He get a turnover chain."

The biggest sign of its explosion came last week, when Hard Rock Stadiumís video board showed former MLB MVP Alex Rodriguez watching the game alongside pop star Jennifer Lopez. Hanging from A-Rodís neck? His own turnover chain.

"Everybodyís wearing a chain," said defensive back Jaquan Johnson, who earned it for a third time with his one-handed interception last week. "Everybodyís wearing the shirts with the chain."

The jewelry figures to be out in force this weekend, when the íCanes host ESPNís College GameDay before facing No. 3 Notre Dame in UMís first top-10 home matchup since 2004.

"They have created obviously some energy with their takeaway chain," Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said. "I think thatís what itís called. I hope I havenít messed that up."

Whatever you call it, the chain is working.

Only 10 teams have forced more turnovers than the íCanes (20). Their plus-11 turnover margin is tied with Alabama for seventh nationally and is a key reason why theyíre in the College Football Playoff picture and one ACC win from clinching their first Coastal Division title.

"You can have a turnover chain if you donít have any turnovers ó itís not very fun," Richt said. "Or if youíre losing every game, itís just, who cares?"

That would make UM like Tennessee. The Volunteers have a trash can players can dunk balls into after takeaways; it has become another punchline in their 4-5 season, like last seasonís championship of life.

Instead, the íCanes have the longest active win streak in the country (13 games), and their shiny new emblem has exploded with a fickle fan base.

"It created a connection with our community Ö" defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. "Youíre seeing that bond starting to grow again. People are starting to get excited about the íCanes."

All it took was the hottest accessory in college football to make the íCanes cool again.

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected] Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

Comments
Where do Mullen, Taggart rank among college footballís offensive masterminds?

Where do Mullen, Taggart rank among college footballís offensive masterminds?

With offensive-minded head coaches taking over Florida and Florida State, we wanted to know how the recent offensive successes of Dan Mullen and Willie Taggart rank among their peers.After crunching thousands of numbers, here's our answer: Not as hig...
Published: 07/20/18
ACC recap: Top sound bites from Charlotte

ACC recap: Top sound bites from Charlotte

College football's talking season commenced this week with three Power Five conferences staging their annual media days. We were in Charlotte for the ACC gab-a-rama, where sound bites ranging from the bizarre to the brain-dead were generated.And that...
Published: 07/20/18
Florida State defensive forecast not that simple

Florida State defensive forecast not that simple

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — His debut at the ACC kickoff attracted a wholly unsurprising assortment of topics. New FSU coach Willie Taggart was asked about his culture, his quarterbacks, his catch phrases.He handled each question deftly, hardly devi...
Published: 07/19/18
Willie Taggart: Francoisí offseason problems are Ďbehind usí

Willie Taggart: Francoisí offseason problems are Ďbehind usí

FSU coach Willie Taggart indicated Thursday the tumultuous offseason of QB Deondre Francois won't factor in to his quest for the starting job when preseason camp commences next month."He's handled his consequences behind that, and he's moved on," Tag...
Published: 07/19/18
SEC media days: Why Iím picking Alabama and Georgia to meet again

SEC media days: Why Iím picking Alabama and Georgia to meet again

ATLANTA — Continuing my annual tradition of idiocy, here are my predicted SEC football standings for the fall. I'll revisit them after the season, so I can laugh at myself before anyone else can laugh at me.SEC West1.   ...
Published: 07/19/18
SEC media days: No answers on Alabama quarterback battle

SEC media days: No answers on Alabama quarterback battle

ATLANTA — Alabama coach Nick Saban had little to say Wednesday about the biggest topic of the offseason.Who will be the Crimson Tide's starting quarterback: Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts?"I think the number one thing that you will want to ...
Published: 07/18/18
Dan Mullenís old team will be better than his new one. Thatís a good thing

Dan Mullenís old team will be better than his new one. Thatís a good thing

ATLANTA — The difference between where the Gators are and where they could be showed up in back-to-back days behind a podium at the College Football Hall of Fame.On Tuesday, first-year Florida coach Dan Mullen said the program he inherited...
Published: 07/18/18
SEC media days: Mississippi State not looking ahead to Dan Mullenís return

SEC media days: Mississippi State not looking ahead to Dan Mullenís return

ATLANTA — If the Dan Mullen's return to Starkville on Sept. 29 is going to be one of the biggest games in Mississippi history, his former Mississippi State players aren't ready to talk about it."We know it's a big-time SEC game," safety Ma...
Published: 07/18/18
ACC chief doesnít like Ďopticsí of widespread college sports gambling

ACC chief doesnít like Ďopticsí of widespread college sports gambling

A few highlights from ACC commissioner John Swofford's nearly hour-long opening address at this morning's ACC Kickoff in Charlotte.•  Swofford noted the ACC Network — in partnership with ESPN — remains set to launch i...
Published: 07/18/18
Bill Hancock talks College Football Playoff expansion (not happening) and UCF

Bill Hancock talks College Football Playoff expansion (not happening) and UCF

ATLANTA — College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock answered the question before it could even be asked."There is no talk about expansion among the university presidents and the conference commissioners who sit on our b...
Published: 07/18/18