The Masters are wrapping up, the NBA and NHL Playoffs are in their inception and the Virginia Cavaliers are still cleaning Tournament confetti off the court; what better time to discuss college football? And what more important facet of the sport than players stunting on teams?
In September of 2015, nearly four years ago, Virginia Tech Hokies running back J.C. Coleman wore a gold watch against the Ohio State Buckeyes. It was not the first time a player has iced out the wrists for kickoff. The year before, Oregon Ducks running back De’Anthony Thomas finished off his in-game look for the Alamo Bowl with a timepiece. More recently, the TCU Horned Frogs’ kick return specialist KaVontae Turpin flashed in September of 2017.
Each of these is cases is a significant flex in their own right, each deserving of being dissected.
Thomas - December 2013
The Alamo Bowl with Oregon vs. the Texas Longhorns, the season before THE season for the Ducks. Marcus Mariota had just launched himself into the center of the college football world, following his 32 passing touchdowns in 2012 with 40 total scores in ‘13.
The 11-2 record also gave a volume of success and traction to the type of program head coach Chip Kelly had created, following up a trip to the championship with the addition of a Heisman quarterback.
On the cusp of the College Football Playoff appearance, one of the centerpieces to this fast-paced, run-centric offense closed out his final collegiate year.
Thomas topped 1,100 yards from scrimmage in the two proceeding seasons, along with four return touchdowns, he seemed to be everywhere and scored from several positions leading up to 2013.
Unfortunately, Thomas left the Ducks with more of a whimper than a rumble, his stats from scrimmage and returning both suffered career lows, along with a minimal impact on the team’s bowl outing.
Despite all of that, Thomas was a key player who made the Ducks offense must-see TV, and he deserved to flex in his last game at Oregon. Every time Thomas touches the ball, it’s go time.
Turpin - September 2017
The Horned Frogs under Gary Patterson had jumped to the top of the Big-12, becoming one of the conference’s premier programs and nearly landing a berth in the first College Football Playoff. Both sides of the ball had plenty of dazzle, where Turpin fit in nicely.
Turpin racked up 2,726 total return yards and six touchdowns in his four years at TCU. The receiver truly is a return specialist, applying that all or nothing mentality in the return game to other areas of the field. Turpin was either going to take the rock to the house or get bogged down.
When he threw on the watch against Jackson State, Turpin was just that. The Louisiana native flexed his iced out wrist following his one carry, which went for 39 yards and a touchdown. It was one of two touches he had in the game.
The move is made even better because of his nickname “Turpin Time,” which fits nicely into the flex.
Coleman - September 2015
Coleman’s is by far the most entertaining and layered flex.
First- the watch itself.
The internet blew up over this watch wearing more than any other, and the idea of this band being a Rolex took off from the jump. I know it isn’t a Rolex. I’ve seen the zoomed in photos, I’ve done the research, I’ve spent way too much time on this, I know it’s a G-Shock, not a Rolex. But when I watched the game, it was a Rolex. Everyone thought it was a Rolex. It was even cooler when it was a Rolex. Some people still think the WWE is real; I still want this to be a Rolex.
Second- the attitude.
The senior back never really took over any games, with sub-500-yard seasons as an underclassman. As a junior, Coleman set career bests in yards (533), yards per carry (5) and scores (3). After the 2014 season, there was a pretty promising opportunity for Coleman to take over as the lead back for the first time in his career.
Now, unfortunately, that did not happen. Coleman posted a very mellow season, and I believe he has now been spit out of the CFL.
Even at home, getting tossed by Ohio State, his impact was relatively minimal. But for this game against the Buckeyes, Coleman was the next back up; it was his time. Despite going for only 43 yards on 12 carries he kept the bling on. Not sure I could have done it after getting stuffed over and over again, but Coleman would not retract the flex.
The Trio -
I draw attention to this because these are some of history’s underrated power moves. Football players always are trying to add props to their performance of flash with the cleats or the gloves. Gold watches take the on-field swagger to another level, elevating the flare of football accessories into a new stratosphere.
Throwing on bling has also elevated the legend of these players. It takes a mediocre college back like Coleman, launching him into the memory of college football. This is what we love about college football; much like 19-year-olds falling for a fake punt, the entertainment of press conferences with Mike Leach or the antics of rivalry week - the weird and goofy layers of college football is why we love the sport and the gifts, like in-game watches, are the presents under the tree of the sport.