June 23, 2008

Duke Football: So Bad, Even a Judge Agrees

"Blue Devil must taste like chicken."

-- commenter CardsOneCatsTwo
in the Louisville Courier-Journal

HOW BAD IS DUKE FOOTBALL? Consider the following. The Duke Blue Devils backed out of a contract to play the University of Louisville Cardinals in football. This annoyed the Cardinals, which sought to enforce a contract provision that would require Duke to pay $150,000 per game if a team of "similar stature" could not be found to play Louisville as a replacement. But Duke's lawyers successfully argued their team was so bad that pretty much any other college team would do -- and according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, a Kentucky judge agreed with them! The newspaper reports:

“At oral argument, Duke (with a candor perhaps more attributable to good legal strategy than to institutional modesty) persuasively asserted that this is a threshold that could not be any lower. Duke’s argument on this point cannot be reasonably disputed by Louisville.”

Kentucky courts interpret contract terms “according to their plain and ordinary meaning” barring any ambiguity. According to Shepherd, finding a suitable replacement literally meant any NCAA Division I team would suffice – including those in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA.)

After the teams played their initial game in 2002, a 40-3 U of L victory in Durham, N.C., Duke opted out of the remaining games in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Louisville is annoyed at the ruling, but we'll see what happens. What we do know, though, is that Duke football sucks. Really sucks. We also now know that Duke is honorless and fails to live up to its commitments, and will resort to legal scheming if need be to worm its way out of those. True, this won't really surprise anyone, but at least now we have proof.

However, Duke's refusal to play Louisville should alarm members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Although I consider the ACC a second-tier football conference -- especially when you match it against the SEC -- it does have several likable teams in it: Wake Forest, Clemson, and Georgia Tech. All three teams are glorious examples of college football excellence, and I almost always root for Wake and Clemson when I see them in games. The conference also has other storied football powerhouses in it, such as Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech, but like most Americans I despise those teams and hope they go 0-12 each season.

But all ACC teams -- good and evil -- should take pause at Duke's cowardly refusal to play Louisville. Louisville, after all, is a member of the Big East -- a conference in which several teams now in the ACC once played, but whose schools opportunistically left back when it sucked. As such, Duke's withdrawal reflects poorly on everyone in the ACC, and other schools in the conference might want to consider whether they should continue to play Duke in football. After all, if Duke can't play against the big boys in Louisville, why should they play against Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Miami?

Fortunately, a solution is close at hand. Let Appalachian State join the ACC as a football-only member, while allowing Duke to remain as a non-football member, and send Duke football down to the Southern Conference, in which the ASU Mountaineers now play. Unlike Duke, the hardy ASU Mountaineers have proven -- much to my distress -- they can play and beat football powerhouses, and have no compunction about taking anyone on.

Speaking of which, ASU plays Louisiana State University in LSU's home opener this year.

Please, God. Please.

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P.S. Fans of the North Carolina Tar Heels may understandably want to gloat about the pickle in which their hated rivals have found themselves. Don't. You went 4-8 last year, you haven't won a conference championship since 1980 and you haven't won a bowl game since 2001.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at June 23, 2008 02:20 PM | TrackBack
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