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Hating The U: How the Ending to Miami-Duke Exposes Anti-Hurricane Bias

November 2, 2015 Leave a comment

The Miami Hurricanes did a dastardly thing—they won a game in spectacular and controversial fashion. How dare they.

There were no fatigues. There was no outlandish dancing. Miami did draw one taunting penalty, but it was a far cry from the sins of yesteryear.

Unless you are just now emerging from a crypt on Mars, you no doubt have seen Miami’s improbable kickoff return to beat Duke. The Hurricanes were down to Desperado—as the play is called—and a prayer. Eight laterals, 160 or so total yards and countless controversy later, cornerback Corn Elder collapsed into the end zone with the game-winning touchdown.

At first it seemed the ghost of Terry Porter would haunt Miami on Halloween. With no flag in sight during the return, the officials announced a penalty for a block in the back. After conferring, deciding, then conferring some more, they decided to take mercy and give Miami the touchdown they deserved.

Then the heavens opened up and a deluge of irony ensued.

Highlight truthers were on the case. Mark Walton’s knee appeared down for a nanosecond while the ball is still in his palm. The Hurricanes did, in fact, block someone in the back, but much earlier in the play than anyone had originally thought. The ACC officials had botched the kickoff return four ways, for which they would pay by way of a two-week suspension.

  1. The entire officiating unit in Miami-Duke should be suspended for the next three games for their incompetence in Durham tonight…
  2. Really, the ACC should actually go further and reverse the “outcome” of the game. The Miami ball carrier was clearly and obviously down…
  3. …during the insane lateral. To NOT see that during a review of replay is unthinkably incompetent…
  4. And how were all the blocks in the back during the “run back” not called against the Miami players who committed them? Unreal…
  5. Ball appears to be in his hand to me. Sorry Canes fans. Knee down. Ball in hand. Great moment, bad call. #Hurricanes  https://twitter.com/mminthecity/status/660659611142217728 
  6. Duke seeking answers from ACC office. Already. At high levels. Not sure what can or will be done, but don’t think this is going unchallenged
  7. I’ve seen all I needed to see. 2 blatant blocks in the back.
    @MikePereira is all I need. Halloween trick for Duke. ACC blew it BIG TIME!
  8. Finally got a chance to watch ending to Duke-Miami game several times. Simply unforgivable that the officiating crew did not get it right.
  9. People saying you can’t reverse outcome of games for bad calls — this isn’t a judgment call. Miami was clearly down. Refs blew it.
  10. Yes, it sets a precedent. But the precedent is a good one. The team that clearly won, wins.
  11. Has the Duke – Miami outcome been reversed yet? is the ACC going to stand for a result that smells like that?
  12. That defiance on top of incompetence…to ignore the blocks in the back by Miami AND the kid’s knee down with the ball…AND REPLAY…
  13. It’s unthinkable a conference could just let that result stand. Or that Duke wouldn’t demand some formal inquiry and answers.


Travesty. Mockery. Miami should forfeit the game or have its victory forcibly removed. The Hurricanes had committed another sin, and for that they must be punished. Miami “isn’t relevant” anymore. (Which is why so many people are talking about a team that’s hovered just above .500 for a decade.)

Never mind the near-record cascade of awful penalties levied against the Hurricanes, particularly on Duke’s would-be clinching drive. Forget the fact Blue Devils quarterback Thomas Sirk was given a touchdown with six seconds left and zero time outs on a play where he was seemingly stopped short of the goal line.

Incidentally, where was the national forfeiture campaign for the Hurricanes after the 2003 Fiesta Bowl?

The officiating was atrocious throughout the game, par for the course for #ACCRefs. Officials slapped Miami with 23 penalties to five for Duke. Three of those were dubious pass interference calls on the final drive, which ended in a touchdown that should be drawing far more scrutiny than it has.

In other words, if we are going to go back and alter the results of a game, knowing what actually happened in the entire game might be prudent.

Here’s the thing—this shouldn’t matter this much. National outcry over a conference game between perennially middling teams? Duke—DUKE—getting jobbed by the officials? Please.

This is about swagger and relevancy. This is about simmering hate. This is about burying the lede. This is all about The U.

There is no story about cornerback Artie Burns playing his heart out after the death of his mother. Gone is the fact a reeling team won as double-digit underdogs. Overlooked is a sterling performance from backup quarterback Malik Rosier, who completed 69 percent of his passes for 272 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Forgotten is interim head coach Larry Scott’s first victory, a kind of win his predecessor never accomplished—over a ranked team on the road.

Instead we have analysts with an audience telling us the Hurricanes deserve to be stripped of a hard-earned victory, context be damned.

No one with any credibility will admit to this, of course. This is all on the up-and-up.

“We must right a wrong for Duke, it doesn’t matter who the opponent was.”

But if, say, Syracuse had beaten Duke in the same way, far fewer analysts would have their hair on fire today.

The Hurricanes spent decades dominating opponents uninhibited by the no-fun rules their antics helped create. And folks haven’t forgotten, despite Miami’s mediocrity.

Rake Miami over the coals. Blast the officials. Try to take the victory away. But here’s the thing—you can’t. Miami won a game they deserved to win, and there is nothing you can do to change it.

But what do you care? The Hurricanes aren’t supposed to be relevant, right?

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University of Miami – The Academic Misconception

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Even the Rock got his degree from Miami.

I love Gregg Easterbrook’s weekly TMQ column on ESPN’s Page 2 during football season, even though I tend to disagree with some of what he says on a weekly basis. Recently, though, I have taken some umbrage with his disparaging remarks about the University of Miami and the scandal in which they are embroiled. Specifically, Mr. Easterbrook exhibits some lazy journalism regarding Miami’s academic prestige, something university president Donna Shalala has referenced in recent months. He seems to think Shalala is being deceptive when referencing academic prestige regarding Miami’s student-athlete, but that simply does not paint an accurate picture of the academic prestige in Coral Gables.

His first shots came on September 6th, when he writes that the Hurricanes only graduate 67% of football players (or 64%, depending on which number he thinks is right — he puts down both). He wrote that in response to president Shalala’s claim that Miami student-athlete academic achievement is mentioned in the same breath as Notre Dame and Stanford. While I do agree there might be some hyperbole involved in that statement, using one outdated graduation rate for one sport reeks of bias. I am fairly certain that, while the scandal involves the prominent football program, Shalala was talking about student-athletes as a whole.

At any rate, even if we are just talking about the football program, Mr. Easterbrook should probably use better data. Miami’s graduation rate among football players has improved over the years, and they are currently tied for third in the ACC with an 81% graduation rate. While perhaps not in the same league as Notre Dame (96%), Stanford graduates 86% of its football players, just a few percentage points better. By comparison, the other schools Mr. Easterbrook recently derides have average-to-terrible rates — Ohio State graduates 63% while Oklahoma graduates just 44%. Donna Shalala’s claims of academic prestige are not so misleading after all, it seems — ambitious, perhaps, but not deceitful. Incidentally, the ACC is the nation’s top academic conference when it comes to graduating football players. Going back to student-athletes as a whole, Miami graduates a healthy 86% overall, and they continue to strive for excellence.

More importantly, what can we say about the academics of the University of Miami as a whole? I remember President Shalala specifically aiming to improve the university’s academic prestige when she took over for Tad Foote during my undergraduate career. Did she succeed? Well, Miami has steadily risen in academic rankings over the past decade — they are currently the no. 38 ranking in the nation according to U.S. News, a ranking which has gone up dramatically during Shalala’s tenure at the university. Not only are student-athletes graduating at a great rate, but they are receiving one of the best educations in the country. “Sun Tan U” is long gone.

While I have come to understand and even accept the national negativity aimed at the University of Miami, gross misconceptions like these are worth addressing and hopefully correcting. Miami has risen to become one of the best universities in the country all around while boasting top-flight medical and law schools for decades, among other great programs. One football scandal will do nothing to change that. While Nevin Shapiro’s poison runs its course through Miami’s system — make no mistake, once it runs its course the Hurricanes will be back — critics would be well served to find something else to aim at when trying to take cheap shots.