By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) It’s entirely possible that this has been going on for some time, but it took this opening weekend of college football for me to see what appears to be a trend in college football, this use of symbolic items during games.
Texas A&M running back Trayveon Williams celebrated against UCLA by strutting with what looks like a scepter of some kind, later revealed to be a drum baton with which a strength coach had encouraged players to “strike up the band” when they score. It provided a novel kind of cutaway for the cameras, at least, before the Aggies crumbled and lost.
In Tennessee, they have a decorated plastic trash can into which balls are dunked after turnovers. It looks weird, particularly when someone is designated to thrust it into the air over his head like it’s the Stanley Cup.
Best of the bunch so far, however, is Miami’s “Turnover Chain,” the fattest of classic fat, gold ropes with a massive “The U” medallion swinging from it. A player picking off a pass or recovering a fumble gets to rock it back on the bench, provided his neck muscles are strong enough. The brainchild of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, the bling is also working as self-aware satire of the program’s rogue and vainglorious history, even if some of the players don’t know or care.
It’s time for some other schools to get in this game, and I’m all for a kind of arms race that could go in any silly direction. Anything beats the stupid wrestling belts.