The Guardian of the Turnover Chain

The Guardian of the Turnover Chain

Joel Rodriguez, '03
By Tom Symonds

Joel Rodriguez, '03

The Guardian of the Turnover Chain

By Tom Symonds
Alumnus & UM Director of Player Development Joel Rodriguez is the guardian of the hottest piece of jewelry in South Florida.

Miami's iconic Turnover Chain has taken over the college football headlines with the force of a category five hurricane.

A simple Google search of the words 'turnover' and 'chain' spit out a seemingly endless list of stories, tweets, videos and even turnover chain t-shirts for sale.

Simply put, the Hurricanes' Turnover Chain has easily become the hottest piece of jewelry in South Florida and has been one of the driving forces in propelling Miami to a perfect 8-0 record and No. 7 ranking in the College Football Playoff Poll.

Needless to say, everybody wants a piece of the Canes' turnover chain, so who protects this thing?

Enter University of Miami Director of Player Development Joel Rodriguez and you have the Hurricanes' Turnover Chain Guardian! 

Although Rodriguez has several duties on game day, his most noticeable duty is when he awards a gaudy, five-and-a-half pound, 10-karat golden Cuban link chain to the player who comes away with the ball.

"The joke that Manny (Diaz) tells is, 'it's a Cuban link chain, so only a Cuban can hand it out and I am calling the game, so you are going to have to give it out,'" Rodriguez said. 

Rodriguez knows a little something about protecting important assets. Throughout his collegiate career as an offensive lineman for the Hurricanes from 2000-04, the Miami native protected the likes of Ken Dorsey and Brock Berlin, while paving the way for former Hurricane running backs Frank Gore, Willis McGahee and Jarrett Payton.

Although few things will ever measure up to blocking for some of Miami's most legendary players, guarding the turnover chain is certainly a close second for the Hurricanes' chain guardian.

"I get so excited about giving the turnover chain out, I ran out onto the field the first couple of times, so that the kids could get the chain as quick as possible," Rodriguez said.

Being on the sideline, Rodriguez admits that he can't always see who comes away with the turnover, but the guardian of the Hurricanes' gold chain has some extra help in the Hurricanes' coaches booth in the form of Quality Control Analyst Mike Zuckerman

Zuckerman plays a key role in identifying the turnover chain recipient from the booth, so that Rodriguez can quickly distribute the coveted chain. 

After all, timing is everything. 

"I haven't moved that fast since I got done playing football in 2006," Rodriguez said when trying to find the turnover chain honoree. "Some of these runs are 30- to 40-yard runs."

UM has forced 20 turnovers through eight games; the Canes forced 19 turnovers all of last season. Since the chain made its debut in the Hurricanes' season opener against Bethune-Cookman, 15 different players have worn it. 

"It's insane to me how this thing has completely taken on a life of its own," Rodriguez said. "Between the ESPN stories, The Miami Herald, it's all over Twitter, it's all over Instagram; we've even had people from adidas tell us that their social media analytics get the biggest spike whenever the chain is pulled out. It's so surprising to what has happened, but it's been awesome." | By Tom Symonds