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'Turnover buffs': The story behind Michigan's newest and coolest tradition

clayton-sayfieby:Clayton Sayfie09/27/22

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Miami had the turnover chain, a tradition that started in 2017 and took the college football world by storm, but new head coach Mario Cristobal put an end to it ahead of the 2022 campaign. Spin-offs such as Boise State’s turnover throne, Texas A&M’s turnover cane and Louisville’s turnover belt ensued. Michigan Wolverines football has now gotten in on the fun.

The Maize and Blue began taking turnover photos during the 2021 season. When they notched a takeaway, the entire defense ran to the sideline and snapped a picture. Those went up on the wall in Schembechler Hall. Now, there’s a new accessory that adds quite the flair (and some motivation to get the ball): Michigan’s turnover buffs.

‘Buffs’ are Cartier sunglasses that have buffalo horn frames. They were popularized in nearby Detroit, Michigan.

Local product and freshman cornerback Will Johnson came up with the idea and secured the buffs from Zeidman’s Jewelry and Loan.

“He was like, ‘What do you think about turnover buffs? Nobody has turnover buffs, and obviously Detroit is right down the street.’ We were like, ‘Yeah! And whoever wears them first will blow up,'” junior safety R.J. Moten explained.

Moten wasn’t responsible for Michigan’s first turnover of the season, but he did have an incredible interception last week against Maryland in which he tipped the ball to himself and caught it. And yes, he did blow up. He was spotted on the television broadcast mean mugging with the buffs on.

Earlier in the game, Michigan senior cornerback DJ Turner had a diving pick and had his second turnover of the season, recovering a fumble in the opener against Colorado State. He, too, got his time with the buffs.

“I love it. I love it. It makes it better, too, because Detroit is right around the corner, and Buffs are such a big thing in Detroit,” Turner said. “I’m glad we thought of it.

“You just go over, take the picture with the buffs on. You put them on and take the picture. After that, you can wear them however long you want. You take them off when you go back on the field. And then, whoever the next turnover is gets to wear the buffs, and that’s just how it goes.”

Michigan has stressed forcing more turnovers this season. Before practice, the Wolverines’ defenders go through circuits where they practice intercepting tipped balls and overthrows, and also hone in on punching the ball out of a ball-carrier’s hands.

“Compared to last year, we definitely emphasize it now,” Moten said. “That’s definitely been more of a focus.”

Michigan has 6 turnovers through four games this season, compared to 16 in 14 outings a year ago.

Johnson takes care of the buffs in between each game, Moten revealed, but he won’t necessarily hold onto them once the season ends.

“Apparently, we said that whoever gets the most turnovers gets to keep them this year,” Turner said with a smile.

The grin likely had something to do with the fact that Turner is in the lead with two takeaways.

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