Milhouse and Me Make Money on a Miami Miracle

One week after firing their head coach, the University of Miami boarded a plane to Durham, North Carolina to play in one of the most bizarre football games you’ll ever see.


I was at work.  It was Halloween night, a big night for any pub with a conscience.  Needless to say, I was busy as hell so I didn’t get to watch any highlights until the following morning.

The band is on the fieldAs it turns out, I missed a doozy of a contest.

After further review, Miami-Duke was one for the record books because a) Duke came back from down twelve to seemingly win the game in the final minutes b) that didn’t end up happening because of an eight-lateral, “Band is on the field,” type return c) the officiating crew was later suspended for blowing the call and d) Dr. Milhouse and I had money on the game.

Ah, the joys of wagering on college football.



Occasionally, I’ll place a friendly wager with Dr. Milhouse through his perfectly legal online gambling service.  We’ve hit far too many losers lately so, as self-professed knowledgeable sports fans, we were long overdue.

His first (of many) texts came at 6:45pm.  Milhouse and the Mrs. were at the Lightning game.  That’s when he sent me a message saying the Hurricanes were +325.  Since he was at a hockey game, I wasn’t sure if he was talking about the Miami (college football) Hurricanes or the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.  Since he knows I’m a hockey newbie and would likely have no interest in wagering on a team I knew nothing about (even if the number was nice… and +325 is most certainly nice), I could only assume he was talking pigskin.

He was.



Christian Laettner KentuckyRealizing he was talking about football, I told him I wanted a piece of Miami.  He obviously concurred otherwise he would never have sent the text in the first place.

The program has seen better times.  They just fired their coach.  But in no conceivable way ever should the University of Miami Hurricanes be three-to-one underdogs to the Duke Blue Devils in a football game.  I don’t care if Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, Mike Krzyzewski and the ghost of championships past came back to cheer on the boys in blue, if you ever see a wager like that, you bet it… and you bet it heavily.



As I mentioned before, I didn’t get to watch the game.  Drunken Ybor City costume-wearers were calling my name by the dozen.  But when I did get the chance to check the score every so often, Miami seemed in control.  At halftime, Milhouse sent me a text that they were up 14-3.  Money in the bank, right?  I checked later to see that Miami was up 24-12 in the fourth quarter.  Milhouse and I would finally have ourselves a winner.



I take full blame for this.  After all, I know better.  Assuming Miami had the game in hand I sent Milhouse a text, asking simply “Finally a winner?”

Big mistake!



To the superstitious gambler, talking about a wager mid-game is like talking to a pitcher in the middle of a no-hitter.  It’s generally considered bad form, if not bad luck, to ask anyone if they’ve placed a wager on a game and more particularly, how much they placed?  If you have to ask, it’s none of your business.  It’s also tremendously bad form to assume a ticket is a winner.  I knew as soon I was typing those words into my phone that something bad would happen.  It did.



Just when we thought we had money to burn, Duke marched down field and scored a touchdown with six seconds left, deflating Miami’s hopes and causing Milhouse to crumple our proverbial ticket.  Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

The jinx is real.



George BurnsWork had slowed for a brief second, allowing me to check my phone again.  That’s when I saw the string of text messages that strayed from lower case to all caps and back again.

Good God.


Miami took the kickoff back for a TD with no time left, 15 laterals

As it turns out, there were only eight laterals but you get the point.  Milhouse’s usual combination of whiskey and elation had taken over.  Understandably so.



Sweet, I thought!  We were back in the money after all.  What a bizarre game that must have been.  Then my phone buzzed again, another text, this one again in all caps.


At this point, I’m confused.  Did we win?  Did we not win?  And what the hell is going on in Durham, North Carolina?  Can I get you another drink, sir, and do you by any chance know what friggin’ channel the Miami game is on?






With six seconds left in the game, up 27-24, Duke squib-kicked the ball off to the Hurricanes, hoping to get a bad bounce and put Miami in weak position to gain any yardage on the return.  This is standard practice for a team looking to kill the clock.  With time expiring, Miami would need to safely field the intentionally errant kick and run it back to the end zone to win.  Any tackle made by Duke would end the game.  In case you missed it, Miami did just that… eight laterals later.



Now, here’s the tricky part.  Replay of the return shows that during one of the laterals, a Miami player may have had his knee down with possession of the ball, meaning the play should have been called dead and the game called over.  There was also a potential, illegal block in the back (at least one actually) right before the last Miami player to touch the football crossed the goal line.  Neither the penalty was called nor the player called down.  Officials reviewed the play, sending the confused linesman out twice to make an announcement to the even more confused Durham crowd.  (What had happened was…)



Fortunately this game didn’t take place in Miami with the exact opposite happening.  I’ve never been to Durham before but I’ve been to (and partied in) Miami on several occasions.  Had Hurricane fans been robbed of a victory in similar fashion, there would have been rioting in the streets, rum and coconuts strewn everywhere, which on second thought sounds like a pretty good time.

The following morning, I woke to news that the game’s refereeing crew had been suspended by the conference.  I guess college football doesn’t care much for indecision and incompetence.

I sent Milhouse another text telling him of the suspension and that after further review, conference officials thought the call should have been overturned.



Milhouse replied.

Probably. Falls under the “too awesome to negate” rule.  Besides, the book has already paid.

Well said, sir.  And well played.

And that, sports fans, is why we wager.  Sure the game was exciting.  But when you have a little coin on it, well, that just makes it all the merrier.

Unless, of course, you’re a Duke fan.

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20 Replies to “Milhouse and Me Make Money on a Miami Miracle”

  1. Really, they should strip Miami of the win and give it to Duke. Next they should fire all officials…maybe even strap them to something and drop bombs on them like Kim Jung Un of North Korea would do. I am glad you won your bet, but this was the worst thing I have seen in quite some time.

    Just horrible all around. They were suspended for 2 games…what an effing joke! At least MOST of the media has admonished the play as what not to do when officiating so I will not have to see this listed as one of the greatest plays of all-time. My blood boils watching it. I mean seriously, WTF?

  2. Chris

    The Canes (football) haven’t been interesting since the days of wine , cocaine and wh#res during the coaching reigns
    <i< of Dennis Erickson and Jimmy Johnson . That's all I need to say on the matter !

  3. D…

    Did you hear the ACC awarded special teams player of the week to the Miami guy who scored the touchdown?

    This is one of those plays where you’re watching it and not saying to yourself “I can’t believe this is happening” but rather “I can’t believe the refs are letting this happen.”

    I just happened to be on the winning side of it.

    Never mind all the money that changed or didn’t change hands in a sports book, what if this were to happen in a game of merit?

  4. The Canes may not be relevant, Al, but it’s safe to say they’ll always be more relevant in football than Duke, regardless of whether Duke is ranked or not.

  5. They would have got it right in a game of merit. This would never happen at the end of Bama/LSU this week. There would be riots, property damage and likely deaths involved.

  6. I no sooner get done putting this game under the bus and backing over it several times with my own post than I learn of your “interest” in it. At the same time I did hear the Miami player was cited for his “achievement.” Clearly the world is ending today. God Speed.

  7. The Canes (5-3) have slid down the national food chain (rankings) and with regard to the Atlantic Coast Conference. So let’s put it this way , who’s now having the last laugh concerning the Canes and Blue Devils (6-2) in terms of being relevant ?

    Kudos on McElwhein and his coaching staff with the Gators winning the SEC .

  8. I thought the play was properly called at the time. When chaos ensues as it did, refs are understandably out of position. Evenso, I did not think his knee was down and I thought the blocker from Miami had his head in front. Firing all the officials was similar to the prison guards being suspended because the inmates
    went crazy. Indeed, I commend the refs for getting it right the only time they saw it in real time.

  9. Chris,
    Here is a post I made ona gambling forum addressing a non-betting Miami sympathizer.

    “How special. Touching moments on a gambling forum. Whatta ’bout the Duke team that battled all the way back only to get ‘jobbed’ by an inept replay system? CLEARLY showing a knee down. Since when does the replay pick up flags? Listen to Duke coach Cutcliffe’s postgame interview. Fueling my rant? OVER 47 and UNDER 51.5.”

    Responding to his wish that he could see my reaction when it happened.

    “Sorry to disappoint you but my carrier doesn’t show Miami games live. The reason given was if Hurricane fans don’t show up for their home games wtf is gonna watch’em on tv.”

  10. To clarify to non-gamblers, OVER 47 and UNDER 51.5 =Two separate bets that wudda both cashed with the final @27-24. In gaming jargon it’s referred to as a ‘middle’.

  11. I think you’re in the minority here, Jim.

    Most everybody that I know thinks the entire last play was a travesty. Not only that but there were some questionable calls on the final Duke drive as well.

    Look, if coaches and players are going to be held accountable for their actions, then the arbiters of these contests should as well.

    We get human error. It’s stupidity that offends us.

  12. Love me some middles, Bets.

    Rarely do I hit one only because it takes looking at a line from start to finish and predicting it to move but man, to hit one and win both bets would be mighty fine.

  13. The play was run, bizarre as it was. I saw it on video shortly after it happened. I thought perhaps, but I wasn’t sure of a blocking from behind penalty. The runner’s knee in my opinion wasn’t down before he got rid of the lateral. The touchdown was reviewed upstairs and the play was declared valid. Miami wins, following all the rules of play and officiating. Game is over. I have absolutely no skin in the game. Couldn’t care less who wins.

    Next day upon even further review, all refs get fired. Do you realize in virtually every game of football, a penalty could be called? Every single play. If you open up the slippery slope of second guessing officials by their officials, you will have five hour football games and the sport would die. Get real here. Let the players play, let the refs ref, let the reviews determine right and wrong immediately, but only once.

  14. Tell it like it is, Jimmy.

    Again, I think you’re in the minority here. Most people are outraged by the result, perhaps because big bad Miami was involved and the poor Dukies took it on the chin.

    I guess, after further review, they couldn’t determine whether the player’s knee was down and like Milhouse hinted in the post, perhaps they didn’t want to ruin a play that was ‘too awesome to negate.’

    I didn’t see any flags thrown for blocks in the back. Were there any?

    Either way, I don’t see this win being overturned.

  15. Miami still believe itself relevant, because of past glories and that’s about it. It’s like having a worn out pair of shoes that really is of no use to the owner.

    If the Gators mess up their chance then who’s ultimately to blame ?

  16. The Gators aren’t going to mess up their chance at an SEC Championship any more than they already have.

    They have Vandy and a Spurrier-less South Carolina team left to play. All they need to do is win one of those two games to get in.

    Then they play most likely LSU in Atlanta.

    After that, we shall see.

    Either way, the season has been way better than anyone of us expected.

  17. How many bleeping times do we hear network announcers and former top officials offer their opinions of how a play went down after the replay is shown only to have the call be called differently. A lot. In the NFL as well as college. Replay doesn’t work because humans are still seeing the same play differently…as we already did and do in real time. You want to move the game along and stop all this nonsense. Take out replay and give the game and the total responsibility back to the officials on the field. The ACC is a joke, football replay is a joke and I’ll drop my mic right…about…now.

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