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Why Miami players are stunting a big ol’ gold chain on the sideline

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There’s a pretty cool reason for this new, season-long tradition, and it even involves Vince Wilfork.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miami had a ball in Week 1. They were in control against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, winning 41-13. More importantly, however, the Hurricanes were also stuntin’ on them on the sidelines. Look at this dope chain on defensive back Malek Young.

This is my new favorite album cover. Too bad it looks like it’s limited edition.

The chain is given to players who force a turnover, per a new Miami tradition.

Young secured an interception earlier in the game and got to sport the bling as a reward.

The story behind the chain’s existence is a unique one. According to the Sun-Sentinel, two weeks before the season started, UM cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph called a Miami jeweler, Anthony John Machado, or “AJ,” to ask if he could make a rope chain players could wear after forcing a turnover. AJ and former Miami Hurricane Vince Wilfork, who happened to be in AJ’s store when Rumph called, had a better idea:

The initial thought was a rope chain that players would get to wear after forcing a turnover.

“Naw, man,” chimed in Wilfork, recently retired after a 13-year NFL career. “We got to do the Cuban link, AJ!”

The consensus among the three was a collective “Hell yeah!”

“In Miami, what are we famous for? We’re famous for the Cuban chains,” Machado says. “But we need to add a little something to it.

“So we did a big U charm — orange stones, green stones in there to flash it out.”

Here’s AJ showing off the bling he designed:

AJ’s expertise in jewelry is well-known — he claims so have over 700 active NFL players that are active customers. Here’s him hanging with New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul:

The newspaper adds that the chain is made out of 900 of orange and green sapphire stones, a “U” that’s 6.5-inch-wide, and a 36-inch, 2.5-kilogram, 10-karat gold chain.

Miami defensive coordinator Many Diaz told his defense they were in for a surprise if they got a takeaway against Bethune-Cookman.

"He told us this morning about the turnover chain," sophomore linebacker Shaquille Quarterman said via 247Sports after Miami's 41-13 win. "It goes to whoever gets the turnover. You get to rock that huge Miami-style chain… it was just another incentive."

"We didn't really need much," Quarterman continued, "but that was definitely an incentive. Seeing Malek get it was amazing because we all wanted to know who was going to be the first guy to get it. Malek did his thing and he earned it, so congrats to him."

Must be nice.

Miami’s kept it rolling throughout the season.

Here it is during the Toledo game:

The player above is safety Sheldrick Redwine, who got a penalty as he was putting this chain on because he took his helmet off before he got to the sideline:

UM was penalized because Redwine (fumble recovery), in his excitement to don the gold, “popped his helmet off before he got to the sideline.’’ The coach [Mark Richt] said lightheartedly during his Monday-morning weekly radio show with UM’s flagship station 560 WQAM that “the guy in charge of the chain has got to stay back in the bench area. He was wanting to go on the field and give it to him.’’

And Week 5 against Duke:

And Sebastian the Ibis mascot has one:

It’s all over the place on campus.

And the good dogs!

Even Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez have joined in:

Some people (who were probably just looking for a reason to say terrible stuff about the Canes anyway) have a problem with it ...

But head coach Mark Richt argues the chain is nothing but fun. He went on The Herd and gave these comments about the jewelry:

“What’s wrong with that, you know?” Richt said. “People want to build it into something else. I can tell you — I tell my guys — I care more what is in your heart than how you wear your hair, if you’ve got a beard, or whatever the heck it may be.

“I care about how you act as a person and how you act as a teammate and a fellow student and all that. That’s what’s most important to me. We’ve got great — not good guys — we’ve got great guys on this team.”

A few college football teams have done similar things like this.

Alabama has a wrestling-style title belt, also given to defenders who record takeaways ...

... and Colorado State now has a similar belt ...

CBS Sports Network

... while Ole Miss’ belt has turned heel.

If there was a The U part 3, I’d want this photo on the cover:

It reminds me of The U’s throwback swagger.

Tradition never stops.