The Saturday game between Miami and Duke had everything but the band.
Oh, and competent officiating.
Now, I am not one to complain about officiating. In fact, I only complain when they are bad. I realize that sets me apart from everyone else, but I gotta draw a line somewhere. And “bad” is where that line is.
But I digress. The last play was amazing. Eight laterals and a touchdown later, Miami wins 30-27.
Then the replay process started.
Nine minutes later, Miami is still the winner.
Then the league got involved.
Twenty-four hours later, Miami is still the winner, but now with a huge asterisk.
The league admits that the officials got it wrong both on the field and on the replay. A Miami player was down prior to his lateral, meaning that the game should have ended right there with Duke having won.
The league takes this so seriously that they suspended the whole officiating crew, replay officials included, for two games.
But they don’t take it seriously enough to actually fix the problem. And the result is that Duke is hung out to dry. With a win, Duke controls their own destiny. Run the table and show up to be a sacrificial lamb for Clemson in the ACC championship. With one loss (that the league declared wasn’t actually a loss), they can still get there, but it’s harder now.
Here’s the thing (and I have changed my opinion on this slightly): The ACC can and should fix this. They should declare Duke the winner. Because they already did declare Duke the winner. The only place they haven’t declared it is in the only place that matters—the standings.
Let me use a golf illustration. A player hits his second shot on a par 4 over a hill towards the green. He walks up to putt and can’t find his ball. He declares it lost and goes back and plays another ball which would now be his fourth shot (because of the penalty). This time he putts and makes the putt for a bogey, only to find that his original ball is in the hole.
What’s the ruling?
It’s a birdie, not a bogey.
Why? Because under the rules, the hole is over when the ball goes in the hole, even if you don’t know it. Thus, the second ball no longer matters.
In the Miami-Duke game, the game was over when his knee hit the ground. No matter how many laterals, yards, minutes, or days later, the game was still over. The rest of the play was nothing but exercise.
There were no other plays that perhaps could have changed the outcome of the game.
It’s not a judgment call in which you are undermining the officials by second-guessing their ruling (such as a pass interference call, as Lions’ fans [if there are any left] will remember).
No, this is black and white. A game-ender. Duke won.
The ACC should agree with their conclusion and fix the standings. Give Duke what they earned—which is the opportunity to control their own destiny.