Pitt was able to get the best of Duke on the gridiron on Saturday, and Blue Devils head coach David Cutcliffe didn't exactly take the 24-17 loss in stride.
“I don’t get frustrated. I’m mad. I’m angry," Cutcliffe said in his postgame press conference. "Frustration gets nothing accomplished.”
It's never a great sign when a coach starts reeling off the thesaurus entry for "enraged" while addressing the media, and as it turns out, Cutcliffe was more "irritated" than anything.
When asked about a delay of game penalty against Duke in the second quarter, Cutcliffe said, “[The referee] started the clock, and he said he warned us. I never heard a warning or anything else. I was totally irritated about that as well. They called the time out. Let us know.”
That apparently wasn’t the only call Cutcliffe took issue with, and as a result, the coach filed a formal complaint with the Atlantic Coast Conference regarding the officiating of Saturday’s game, according to Steve Wiseman of The Herald-Sun.
Specifically, Cutcliffe was displeased with the ruling on Ben DiNucci's 49-yard pass to Jester Weah early in the fourth quarter, which Duke cornerback Mark Gilbert also appeared to have staked a claim to. However, as they both appeared to hang onto the ball, it was ultimately ruled simultaneous possession, and the ball stayed with Pitt.
The bomb took the Panthers all the way from their own 40-yard line to the Blue Devils’ 11, and two plays later, Pitt took a 21-17 lead on a four-yard run by Darrin Hall.
The Duke coach also had a problem with what he said was a no-call for pass interference on Elijah Zeise that stalled Duke tight end Daniel Helm and led to Jordan Whitehead's game-sealing interception.
Whitehead’s interception, of course, came on the Blue Devils’ final drive of the afternoon, and it had been promising. With less than two minutes left in the game, Duke got the ball and drove 51 yards to Pitt’s 22-yard line. Had the call gone Cutcliffe’s way, Duke could have tied or perhaps won the game with a two-point conversion.
Instead, Pitt got the ball back and ran out the clock for the win.
This isn’t the first time Cutcliffe has lodged a complaint with the ACC. In 2015, he called out conference officials after losing a game to Miami 30-27 on a kick returned for a touchdown, and the ACC eventually determined several calls were missed on the play that directly affected the outcome of the game. As a result, the on-field officiating crew and a replay official were suspended.
With that said, the outcome of the game didn’t change, and Cutcliffe’s latest complaint isn't expected to produce any earthshaking results, either. According to Wiseman, the coach should receive "either a rebuttal or an admission of error" from the ACC, which should likely bring the matter to a close.