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Thursday, September 18, 2008
We're Number 119! More on Duke Football

It’s time for the latest update on Duke football. Back in June, Mark wrote about Duke’s victory in court over Louisville. Here’s a quick recap: Duke and Louisville agreed to play each other in 2002, 2007, 2008, and 2009. Louisville won the 2002 game by a score of 40-3 (though the final score could very well have been 40-6 if not for a questionable call by the ref), and Duke decided not to play the final three games agreed upon in the contract. The contract calls for a $150,000 payment for each game a team fails to play, unless the non-breaching team is able to replace the breaching team with a “team of similar stature.” Here’s the contract.

Duke won the case on a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, with the court accepting Duke’s argument that “that any and all college varsity teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) are teams of a 'similar stature' to Duke [and] that any and all college varsity football teams in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) that would be considered as good or better than Duke in football. . . are teams of a 'similar stature' to Duke.”

Thanks to the North Carolina Business and Litigation Report, we can now watch Duke’s lawyer in action. Here is a video excerpt of some of the highlights from the hearing. My personal favorite (as a proud Duke alum): "I think the Court can absolutely positively take judicial notice that Duke is probably the worst football team in Division I football. Everybody knows that. That’s no secret.”

I won’t rehash the discussion about the wisdom of the judge’s decision here, but I do wonder if arguing that Duke is the “worst” team was the best strategy. Mark noted in his post that it would be difficult to replace Duke football if it were (like, say, Duke basketball) consistently one of the best teams in the country. Well, doesn’t that argument also work the other way? Isn’t it just as difficult to replace the worst team in the country? Only a few teams can claim to be the “best” or the “worst,” so it would seem to be more difficult to replace teams on either end of the spectrum. Granted, the provision only requires a team of “similar” (not the same) stature, but it seems to me that the better argument would have been that Duke is a very mediocre football team, easily replaced by many of the other mediocre teams in the country.

In any event, the “worst football team in Division I football” is 2-1 to start the season (narrowly losing to Northwestern). We’ll see if Duke can keep it up, but for now I can still dream about a Duke-Louisville grudge match in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.


What was the reason Duke gave for backing out of the remaining games on the contract? With the way Louisville has been playing lately, they would have actually stood a chance in those games.

Blogger Pbenn001 -- 9/19/2008 9:05 AM  

Great site you guys have!

Would you like a Link Exchange our new blog COMMON CENTS where we blog about the issues of the day??

Blogger commoncents -- 9/19/2008 3:31 PM  

Duke rules.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 9/20/2008 10:21 AM  

Anyone know why Duke backed out of the contract? They could actually beat Louisville.

Blogger Pbenn001 -- 9/23/2008 11:15 PM  


I haven't seen a direct answer to your question from anyone at Duke, but the assumption is that Duke wanted to schedule a weaker opponent than Louisville. Perhaps it is just coincidence, but Duke opted out of the deal after Louisville beat them 40-3 in 2002.

Anonymous Gabe Feldman -- 9/24/2008 2:34 PM  


Thanks for getting back to me and letting me know the situation.

Blogger Pbenn001 -- 9/24/2008 11:53 PM  

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