I realize that this teeters on blasphemy, but just keep reading. I will start by stating that I absolutely love the turnover chain. I’m head over heels. I own a turnover chain t-shirt, turnover chain socks, I have worn a hand-crafted chain replica, and The Honorable Solo D is currently my top played artist on Spotify. Clearly, this chain has gone far and beyond what anyone anticipated when it made its debut on September 2nd. It has become the most iconic piece of jewelry of 2017, and one of the highest profile stories in all of sports. It’s been the rallying ornament of this Miami Hurricanes football team, its fans, and the city of Miami. It has captivated thousands and has sparked the resurgence of true Canes football. However, as the saying goes, sometimes you must let go of the things you love most. Thus, with a heavy heart, I’m calling for the retirement of the turnover chain following the 2017 Orange Bowl.
Miami’s defensive coordinator Manny Diaz set out this season to improve his defense from a very good performance in 2016 to a hopefully great one in 2017. With only 19 takeaways in 2016, he surely knew that placing greater emphasis on takeaways this season would fortify his defensive unit. And such, the turnover chain was born. The most quintessentially Miami icon he could muster was introduced to incentivize and reward his players for forcing turnovers. And boy did it work. The Canes currently rank second nationally in turnovers gained with 30. They trail the top spot by one turnover, which they would likely have earned if not for a cancelled game against Arkansas State, and can hopefully overtake following their bowl game. It’s been a dream season for the Hurricanes who sit with a 10-2 record, reached as high as a #2 ranking, earned their first ACC Championship berth ever and first Orange Bowl berth in fourteen years. There could not have been a better set of circumstances for the turnover chain to achieve the fame that it did. With every turnover the defense forced, the Cuban link’s luster grew brighter.
Now, ponder these questions: what happens to the turnover chain next year? Or the year after? Or the following year? Right now, the chain is fun. It’s new, and it’s exciting. The team is winning which is also new and exciting, but I’m afraid that at one point the fun will die down and eventually stop. I don’t know when that will happen, but it indeed will. At this point, I must insert another disclaimer. I do trust that Manny Diaz will continue to lead very successful Miami defenses for a long time, and I also trust that Mark Richt will be successful at Miami for a long time. The Canes are just getting started and showing all signs of speeding up rather than slowing down. Unfortunately, college football is cyclical, meaning that every single team will have its ups and its downs. Excellence can’t be sustained forever. Whether within two years or twenty years, Miami will at some point face a 7-5 season or similar where the defense passes as average or worse. If Miami is mired in mediocrity, the same vigor cannot be expected from players and fans when an interception is made and the chain is unboxed. The truth is that at some point, people will say enough is enough. The cameras will stop panning to the turnover chain, the t-shirts will stop selling, and a once meaningful honor will become a joke.
Miami cannot let that happen. I’m sure that next year the turnover chain will still be widely adored as the Canes will have another realistic shot at the playoffs. The chain’s impact could easily continue through 2018. However, if you keep saying “one more year”, then “one more year”, when does it finally stop? It shouldn’t be taken so far as to the point where the turnover chain becomes irrelevant. So because no one knows when exactly that will occur, it needs to stop now before that situation arises. Let the chain go out on top. Don’t take it out to pasture to die alone. Build a nice glass box for it and enshrine it in the Schwartz Center right next to the Heisman Trophies and National Championship trophies. I’d hope that Diaz has built Miami’s defense culture to the point where the turnover chain is not required to motivate. The fans can continue to flaunt the chain however they’d like. Keep wearing the shirts and keep donning the chains in the stands. That is something in which I’d enjoy seeing and partaking as long as the chain is removed from the field.
Believe me, I want the chain to come back. I’d want nothing more than for its magic to inspire forever. It’s not easy to accept that the chain is best served as a one-and-done, but as the other saying goes, the brightest stars burn out the fastest. If I’m proven wrong, so be it. I’d gladly admit my err. If I’m proven right, then there is still one more game to enjoy, embrace, and flaunt the turnover chain. That being said, I’ll be in my turnover chain socks, turnover chain shirt, with the turnover chain song on repeat at Hard Rock Stadium on December 30th. Come find me if you want to pay respects to this poignant emblem of Miami Hurricanes lore.
(Author’s note: yet another saying that loosely applies here is from The Dark Knight “you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” There were a lot of relevant sayings to choose from and this one was too good to leave out.)