A tradition is over: Miami football retires the turnover chain

Senior safety Amari Carter celebrates with the Turnover Chain 4.0 after intercepting a pass during the first quarter of Miami’s game versus Appalachian State at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept. 11, 2021.
Senior safety Amari Carter celebrates with the Turnover Chain 4.0 after intercepting a pass during the first quarter of Miami’s game versus Appalachian State at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept. 11, 2021. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Miami Hurricanes football head coach Mario Cristobal announced on Thursday, July 21 that the famous turnover chain will no longer be a part of the program.

The turnover chain, a staple part of the Miami defense for the past five years, was worn by a defensive player that had forced a turnover the previous play. However, after an underwhelming 2021 season and the transition to a new head coach, the chain is set to be retired.

“We just really focus on getting better as a program and have focused on technique, fundamentals, regimentation, academics, strength and conditioning, sports science, community service and that’s what the focus has been on,” Cristobal said during Miami’s Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) media day last Thursday.

UM was the first university to have something of its kind and quickly became a symbol of UM football success.

“It is not a shot or form of disrespect to anybody or anyone. Certainly history is history, and whether it’s positive, whether it’s inconsequential, whatever it may be, it’s still history and part of your program. We’re just moving in a direction that right now doesn’t involve it. That’s really the best way to address it,” said Cristobal.

The chain came into fruition in 2017 with former defensive coordinator Manny Diaz who told his players he had a surprise for them when they got a turnover. In the fourth quarter of their first game, an interception by defensive back Malek Young allowed Diaz to unveil the 36-inch, 5.5 pound, 10-karat gold Cuban link turnover chain.

“We’re just trying to motivate. It’s crazy what motivates them. Even the decals we put on our helmets, they cost maybe 15 cents apiece, but they like them. They like to get them on their hat,” former Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt said.

The 2017 turnover chain accompanied a ten game win streak getting both players and fans excited about the potential for turnover celebrations. In a 41-8 domination over No. 11 ranked Notre Dame that season, Miami had three interceptions prompting celebration among players and fans as the now infamous chain was brought out each time.

“It’s a tremendous win,” said Shaquille Quarterman, former Miami linebacker and current Jacksonville Jaguar. “It’s a tremendous moment.”

The following season against rival Florida State, multiple turnovers were able to generate a comeback from being down 7-27 to finish the game, winning 28-27. The turnover chain celebrations brought the crowd back into the game, disrupting Florida State’s momentum.

“It just took a spark,” Richt said. “And before you knew it, that spark turned into a flame.”

However, with these moments of triumph came moments of awkwardness as the team failed to capitalize on their turnovers in more recent seasons.

In their 2021 season debut against University of Alabama, the Crimson Tide was dominating 41-10 in the 3rd quarter when a fumble by quarterback Bryce Young produced a Miami turnover. Kam Kitchens, who forced the fumble, celebrated with the chain almost immediately after the turnover.

ESPN reporter, Paul Newberry, wrote in his analysis of the game that, “Nothing went right for the Hurricanes, who even wound up looking foolish for handing out their sparkling gold turnover chain after an apparent fumble recovery.”

Recent statistics also do not help the cause of keeping the turnover chain. On3 analyst J.D. Pickell explains, “If you look at Miami’s defense since the turnover chain’s birth in 2017, it has been a steady decline. They had 31 turnovers that they forced in 2017; they had 11 turnovers forced last season.”

Even though the chain brought fun to the Cane game atmosphere, it is clear that coach Cristobal wants his team focused on only one thing, winning. With the offseason looking promising, there is hope that the excitement that came from the chain can now come from winning games for Canes fans.