During Tennessee’s 2017 opener against Georgia Tech, one image dominated college football social media: a trash can.
You’re likely not really looking for a garbage receptacle on a college football sideline, but this is the world we live in.
Its purpose: a sideline prop that defensive players can literally dunk the ball into when they get a takeaway.
Weird college football sideline props are nothing new.
Virginia Tech might be the originator of the sideline prop tradition, at least in the modern era. The Hokies have rocked a lunch pail on their sideline since 1995.
Each week, the team comes up with a list of goals that puts in the pail. The defensive player of the game is responsible for the lunch pail the following week. Carrying the pail is an honor. It is the player's responsibility to take it to practice each day and to all of the defensive meetings.
College kids respond to this sort of thing. Visuals and props are positive reinforcement, and tangible motivational things that players can strive toward.
One of the more clever ones has to be Kennesaw State, which has a turnover...wait for it...PLANK!
Austin Peay has a turnover trashcan of their own, too.
The Georgia Bulldogs have some spiked shoulder pads that say “savage” on them.
While Temple coach Geoff Collins was at Florida, the Gators had a white board on the sideline that players would sign their names on after they got a takeaway.
Speaking of signage, here’s Maryland’s:
Maryland has football's best sideline sign https://t.co/75CXeCKnZ9— SB Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) September 30, 2017
You are aware of P.J. Fleck’s “Row the Boat” slogan. He brought it to Minnesota, and you can see the oars here, when the Golden Gophers ran out of the tunnel during the first game of his tenure.
When Fleck was still at Western Michigan, the Broncos beat Akron, which had defiled a version of the oar.
Wow. Akron making a statement today. PJ Fleck and WMU use "row the boat" slogan...on the field, the Akron football team destroyed an oar. pic.twitter.com/fOMzzDgzbQ— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) October 15, 2016
Miami ushered in a new sideline prop wave with a gold Cuban Links chain in 2017. A player who gets a takeaway gets to wear it. Anything that even slightly harkens back to the 1980s-era Canes is OK with me. Combined with the throwback-ish uniforms, the gold chain is perhaps the perfect Miami aesthetic.
From there, Tulane turned things up a notch with turnover Mardi Gras beads.
Memphis channeled its wrestling roots with a turnover robe a la Ric Flair.
If you’re at the Memphis game tonight or any game this season you may see their new turnover celebration item. I was asked several months ago to create this Ric Flair style robe for the football team! Such a fun project! #GoTigersGo #createdbycarrie @TigersAthletics @MemphisFB pic.twitter.com/3aweJPfCiz— Carrie Rudy (@cre8dbycarrie) September 2, 2018
And Boise State showed off a damn throne for the players who get takeaways.
SMU also has a turnover, crown and chalice!
SMU celebrating with a turnover chalice. next play TCU gets a turnover and scores lmao pic.twitter.com/B8wqlwRH5U— nick (@nick_pants) September 8, 2018
The wrestling championship belt is a trendy one.
Alabama’s had the Ball Out Belt, given to the defender who caused the last takeaway, since 2015.
Ole Miss’ wide receiver corps has a bad-guy version.
Ole Miss has a NWO wrestling belt and I think I’m back in on the Rebels pic.twitter.com/eH2SALPBci— Jack McGuire (@JackMacCFB) September 3, 2017
Colorado State’s joined the belt club.
Boise State has one too, pre-throne.
As does Memphis pre-robe.
Signifying the workmanlike nature of a blue-collar team, some squads bring out hardware.
In 2018, the Mountaineers unveiled a turnover coal miner’s hat for the defense:
The turnover ... coal miner hat? pic.twitter.com/SfnmQBkqc4— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 29, 2018
Update: West Virginia has a turnover coal mining helmet!! pic.twitter.com/Nh5grp6dVU— New Account (@ftbeard_17) September 29, 2018
They’ve used this before games, too:
ArDarius Stewart, a former Bama player, once strolled around with an axe.
Eastern Michigan has, err, a wrench?
EMU is also infamous for an entrance involving a sledgehammer.
Even the turnover trash can thing wasn’t new or unique to Tennessee.
Texas A&M had used one in practice under Kevin Sumlin.
SMU used one as well under Chad Morris.
And Tennessee’s isn’t even new, despite taking over the 2017 broadcast and sprouting its own parody Twitter accounts.
Butch on sideline motivational props: "Pretty much everybody does something," whether it's a championship belt or a chain or a trash can.— Patrick Brown (@pbrown247) September 6, 2017