I’ll admit — when Miami’s turnover chain was introduced in 2017, it was cool. Undoubtedly, definitely, undeniably cool. The Hurricanes were a solid team that year at 10-3, and as a freshman at Notre Dame, it was just incredibly demoralizing to watch them pull out the chain: not once… not twice… but FOUR separate times, as they absolutely dismembered the Irish, ranked No. 3 at the time. That demoralizing feeling — that embarrassment that I felt even as I watched hundreds of miles away on a television screen — was the whole point of the chain. The sapphire-studded, 10-karat gold chain hyped up the home fans and the players, and it was new and fun and, ultimately, cool.
Fast forward to 2021, where copycats have run amok throughout the last four years and the turnover prop is little more than a gimmick. Everyone wanted to have the hype of the turnover chain, but the original ideas got a little — shall we say, out there. Oregon State introduced the turnover chainsaw (seems dangerous in a packed stadium), a few teams had turnover wrestling-inspired belts, the Aggies tried a turnover pimp cane (sigh), and Florida State even had a short run with a turnover backpack that made safeties look all ready to head to the first day of sixth grade.
Even Miami kept trying to one-up itself with bigger and flashier chains each year, only to make viewers cringe when they brought it out this year while losing 27-0 to Alabama for recovering a fumble that was then overturned.
Perhaps it was a trend best short-lived, or at least done by a team that didn’t turn out to be devastatingly average in the years following the chain’s introduction.
But I digress — the point of this piece isn’t to complain about Miami football. It’s to ask the question — how far is too far?
This season, the UNLV football team (0-6) rolled out a locally-inspired prop to their sideline: a 700-pound turnover (and touchdown-celebration) slot machine that wins every time it’s played.
No money goes in or comes out, but the winning sound is broadcast over the stadium’s speakers anytime a Rebel player pulls the lever after scoring or forcing a turnover in a big game moment. The Athletic reported that the crowd and team seemed somewhat unprepared for the appropriate celebration required after a slot machine celebration — apparently, a hype video was supposed to be made with the machine to introduce it to the fans, but the shipment didn’t come in time (although they’re literally in Vegas — they could probably grab one from any given street corner). Another fun twist to this narrative is that since it is a legit slot machine — albeit, one with better odds than you or I will ever find — it is subject to state gambling laws wherever it goes.
So, again, how far is too far? Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions on that one, but it does sort of feel that the era of the turnover prop is past its peak. If the players and crowd get hyped up from the new slot machine, then that means it’s doing its job, but the abrupt mid-season introduction didn’t seem to go over too smoothly. Maybe this is exactly what the Rebels need to turn their losing season around and get the energy up on the sideline –– for now, those lever pulls are the only wins they’re getting.