University of Miami cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph was looking for a spark from his secondary heading into the 2017 season.
In 2016, the Hurricanes forced just eight interceptions, ranking near the bottom of all Division I schools. With a talented roster and high expectations for the season, Rumph’s defensive unit needed a jolt.
So he called A.J. Machado, owner of A.J.’s Jewelry in the Miami area.
Rumph was looking for something to give his players after they forced a turnover. Machado suggested a rope-style gimmick, but that didn’t seem to fit the team's identity.
“We were like, ‘A rope? We wear Cuban links in Miami,' ” Rumph told USA TODAY Sports.
Machado delivered with a massive Cuban-link chain that featured an elegant Miami “U” pendant, studded with 850 stones. The chain debuted in Week 1 of the 2017 season, and pictures of players wearing the chain spread over social media.
“The players love it — what other sport can you get national recognition like this?” Rumph said. “Your helmet’s off … and 60,000 to 70,000 fans can see you and cheer you on.”
Who knows whether the chain helped the Hurricanes double their interception output from 2016 to 2017, but it certainly was a hit in terms of popularity. So the program upgraded for 2018.
“The second [chain] is where we said ‘you know what, let’s step it up,’ " Machado told USA TODAY Sports.
"University of Miami called us and was like ‘hey, is there any chance we can beat that? It was such a success.’ I said, ‘Well, why don’t we do Sebastian the Ibis, and we’ll go with a little bigger [chain]. Instead of two kilos, let’s do three kilos."
Defensive players now wear a turnover chain with a dazzling pendant depicting Sebastian the Ibis. The new piece weighs over eight pounds and features more than 4,000 stones.
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