Miami Kickoff Return vs. Duke and Its Strange Precedent


The Miami kickoff return touchdown to sink Duke Saturday, officially credited to Corn Elder but the result of a true, 11-man effort, is an instant classic. The Miami Miracle, the Wackiness in Wallace Wade, Hurricane Lateral; whatever nickname this ends up taking, we have a finish on par with Cal-Stanford in 1982.

With its belabored replay review and erroneous block-in-the-back flag, Miami’s kickoff return elicits comparison to Colorado’s Fifth Down victory over Missouri in 1990. The Hurricanes’ win would not have been possibility without an officiating gaffe that perhaps set a risky precedent for booth reviews.

An official threw a flag for block-in-the-back that the ESPNU broadcast could not seem to locate anything that qualified. The closest I’ve seen is a still image, but it’s difficult to draw a conclusion without the benefit of real-time video.

However, the flag was reportedly thrown at the Duke 25-yard line, where Elder had a convoy and the replay showed a block thrown shoulder-to-shoulder. If that was indeed the call, the flag was egregious. But the replay booth cannot overturn penalty flags; those can only be waived by the officials on the field without input.

Without the benefit of an official statement from the crew or the ACC, all we’re left with is theories and innuendo.

UPDATE: The ACC released a statement Sunday, and the conference is not pleased.


If the booth did indeed prompt the flag to be waived off, the Miami kickoff return didn’t just earn a place in history: It created a new precedent.

Might we see coaching staffs challenge plays they wouldn’t otherwise on unrelated grounds in pursuit of overturned penalties?

And as long as we’re looking at called and uncalled penalties from that miraculous, final play, here’s video of another play that went without a flag. .