University of Miami

Controversial UM-Duke finish is hot topic on talk radio, social media, and even T-shirts

UM’s Corn Elder (29) jumps into the arms of teammate Stan Dobard after Elder scored the winning touchdown.
UM’s Corn Elder (29) jumps into the arms of teammate Stan Dobard after Elder scored the winning touchdown. cliddy@newsobserver.com

The controversial 8-lateral touchdown heard ’round the world continued to drive sports talk and social media Monday, and even spurred the sale of T-shirts commemorating the play that won the game for the Hurricanes over then-No. 22 Duke.

Within a couple of hours after the game ended, more than 100,000 tweets had already been posted on Twitter regarding the outcome, and as of Monday it seemed like every talking head in sports had mentioned it in some form.

Other than Canes fans, an overwhelming majority of folks were critical of the game going to Miami, especially after the Atlantic Coast Conference suspended the officials for two games for their handling of the situation.

“Has the Duke-Miami outcome been reversed yet? Is the ACC going to stand for a result that smells like that?’’ ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon tweeted.

“Just watched end of Miami-Duke game … again.’’ tweeted ESPN radio host and author Paul Finebaum. “Beyond outrageous. Duke WON the game. Feel terrible for David Cutcliffe.’’

And this from ESPN College GameDay’s David Pollack on colleague Mike Greenberg: “Sometimes @Espngreeny has some crazy ideas but I like his idea 2 take away the win away from Miami. Suspending refs doesn’t help Duke in the ACC.”

There were some other points of view, of course. The Dan Le Batard Show tweeted a popular one among Hurricanes fans. “How dare you? Let’s overturn every game with a bad call. How about we overturn the Ohio State championship vs UM?’’

Billy Corben, the popular director of The U documentaries, posted this on Twitter: “Flight attendant saw my U hoodie and mentioned Miami-Duke “the return.” Said she’d “be embarrassed” to win that way. Us against the world.”

Though Monday was an off day for the Hurricanes, UM interim football coach Larry Scott went on the weekly 560 WQAM coach’s show for the first time, and was asked by host Joe Rose if he was surprised about the suspension.

“I really didn’t even hear about it because we were so busy here yesterday until late in the evening,’’ Scott said. “I kind of felt like the ACC head of officiating and [the others] went through their evaluation process, whatever that is. They did their job like they had to do. And we’ve got a job to do here so let’s keep doing what we’ve got to do.”

When asked if he was surprised to hear an official comment on whether a player was blocked in the back or in the side, Scott said, “A little bit, but they’re the officiating crew. They were chosen to do that. And when you evaluate the situation you look at it and go, ‘OK, they made a decision. That was their job … ’ ”

Be assured that no matter what the officials decided or how the public opines, UM fans have been and will likely continue buying T-shirts touting the famous kickoff return.

Fanatics, which calls itself the largest online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise, is selling a green T-shirt with a graphic diagramming the eight-lateral play for $24.95 — “already one of the top-selling items on the site” according to a company spokesman.

The president of Fanatics Apparel, Raphael Peck, said in an email to the Miami Herald: “We live for the exciting, unpredictable moments college sports give us, but every once in a while we see something special unfold before our eyes. The Miami fan base was so energized by this that we couldn’t wait to memorialize this exceptional play as part of Miami’s sports history.’’

Peck called the shirt “one of the hottest unplanned tees we have seen in college apparel in several years.’’

Another online company and popular retail store across the street from the Miami campus in Coral Gables, allCanes, designed its own T-shirt commemorating the return.

The shirt is black and will be available Tuesday, sells for $19.99 on allCanes.com, and also diagrams the lateral, with the words The Gr8 Return over it and the “ITS A CANE’S THING YOU WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND” slogan running the length of the football field.

“Everybody is excited about the play and they want to remember it forever,” allCanes general manager Harry Rothwell said. “I think Miami is getting a bad rap.

“Miami played the game to the very end. I challenge anybody to go watch the final Duke drive to see that — you know what? — maybe there were some other bad plays. Give Miami credit for executing the play with or without penalties.”

Susan Miller Degnan: 305-376-3366, @smillerdegnan

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