The Duke football program must internally modify the memory of its matchup against Miami from three seasons ago so that the suffering can finally stop.
On Halloween night in 2015, the Duke Blue Devils won a game that officials inexplicably decided that they lost. Those officials should have been dressed as robbers. They were wrong to steal the joy from Duke football fans. Dead wrong. And things haven’t been exactly right for the Blue Devils ever since.
This is a call for action directed at the Duke football program.
It’s come to my attention that a kickoff is just around the corner. That means it is time to start using this site to preview the Blue Devils’ roster and schedule. But before I delve into all of that, I still desperately need some closure from a Duke kickoff nearly three years ago that came with six seconds left on the clock and Duke leading Miami, 27-24.
Before the 2018 edition of Duke football begins, it’s time to make a vital correction to the past in the record books of the athletics department. Neglecting to do so could keep the Blue Devils from getting back to the level of success that they reached before the unbelievable officiating error occurred.
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The Blue Devils had a 23-7 record in the 30 games leading up to their so-called 30-27 home loss to Miami in 2015 (when officials let the Hurricanes score on their final kick return by any means necessary). In the 30 games that have passed since that heartache, the Blue Devils were 13-17.
Ever since that game, Duke football has been mediocre. Going into that game, though, the Blue Devils were on the verge of becoming a legitimate powerhouse.
No joke. It was really happening.
Not only had the Blue Devils represented the Coastal Division in the 2013 ACC Championship and finished with a 10-4 record, but they had followed up on that historic season with a 9-4 mark in 2014 and a 6-1 start to 2015.
The future was so bright that it was almost blinding for Duke fans who had lived through decades full of abysmal seasons before David Cutcliffe arrived in Durham.
But what blinded the group of so-called professionals who reviewed the final play of Duke’s game against Miami that night?
Nobody has offered an acceptable answer to that.
And if the mistake occurred on the final play of the game with no time left on the clock, and the ACC suspended the officials for screwing up the next day after admitting that the call on the field should have been reversed, then why wasn’t the outcome reversed?
Nobody has offered an acceptable answer to that.
But here’s one thing that I do know: it’s not too late for Duke to change the way it views that game. Maybe it would be just a symbolic gesture, but I believe it is necessary. Having to think of that game as a loss still irks this Duke fan, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who still feels the pain.
After all, Duke did do what it needed to do to win the game. The tackle was made. Game over. End of story.
In order to try and fully move on, I decided to rewatch the game today with the mindset of viewing it for what it was: a Duke win. Not only was it a win, but it was a memorable win. It improved Duke’s record to 7-1, and the Blue Devils continued to improve their top-25 ranking. What might have come next could have been historically amazing.
Now, it could be argued that Cutcliffe should have been able to convince his program to move past the pain by using it as a motivational tool. But the fact of the matter is that the Blue Devils’ record ever since that play is evidence that the program has yet to fully recover.
It’s time to try a different tactic.
I’m not going to explain in detail how a Miami player was obviously down before he lateraled the ball, which would have ended the game (you can see that for yourself in the video above or from the real-life nightmare that has played over and over in your memory).
I’m not going to spend any more time bashing the officials for not being able to use their time reviewing the play to see the Miami player’s knee, followed by his entire lower body, touch the ground while still holding onto the ball.
I’m not going to agonize over the fact that there was an obvious block in the back on the final play that the ACC admitted should have been called.
I’m not going to use a bunch of words here to complain that a player from Miami’s bench came onto the field before the play was over.
I’m not going to blame the Duke defenders for not tackling more and more Hurricane players until the officials finally decided to pay attention and use their whistles to call the play dead.
And I’m not even going to ask the NCAA or ACC to change the score of a game that was played almost three years ago; I am aware that would be futile.
But I am asking Duke to change its own record books. If nothing else, at least put an asterisk next to the game.
Why continue to print a lie?
Shouldn’t history be properly recorded to include the truth?
It should if Duke wants to move past the past and experience a future as bright as the days before the Blue Devils had their hearts robbed from their chest on Halloween 2015.
Now that I have all of this off my chest, I can finally start to embrace the upcoming season and believe the program can get back to the top of the ACC.
Can the Blue Devils do the same?