CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Miami coach Mario Cristobal reiterated Monday that he takes full responsibility for the Hurricanes not taking a knee in the final seconds of their loss to Georgia Tech, even as offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson revealed that he actually called the play in which the ball was fumbled away.
“I made the wrong call,” Cristobal said.
Miami led Georgia Tech 20-17 and could have been in victory formation — taking a knee to essentially end the game — when a running play was called. Don Chaney fumbled the ball with 26 seconds left, and Georgia Tech took over on its own 26-yard line.
It took the Yellow Jackets four plays — an incompletion, a 30-yard gain, a spike to stop the clock and a 44-yard pass with 2 seconds left — to find the end zone and win 23-20, handing Miami (4-1, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) its first loss of the year.
“What we did at the end was the wrong decision,” Dawson said. “I called it. It is what it is. I wished we would have done something different, but we didn’t. Got to live with it. … I’m not going to sit here and go through the process with you guys. What’s said on the headsets is between us, and ultimately, I called the play. And I can live with it. It was the wrong thing to do.”
Cristobal said immediately after the game that he should have stepped in and called for a kneel-down, and did not blame anyone else Monday — saying he takes “complete ownership.”
Miami fell eight spots to No. 25 in the AP Top 25 after the loss, and Cristobal was asked how the team would recover in time to prepare for a trip to play No. 12 North Carolina this weekend.
“You do it with honesty and transparency, go and fix all the things we can do better and realize the opportunity in front of us,” Cristobal said. “Football is very much like life. We owe it to ourselves and to our players, to our entire organization like we do our very own families to look each other right in the eye and demand the best, the absolute truth from each other so we can go forward.”
Miami has asked the ACC for an explanation about why Chaney was not ruled down, and why the play wasn’t overturned on review. Cristobal said the league has not given Miami an answer yet.
Commentators and those on social media have, predictably, not been kind to Miami in recent days for the blunder of not kneeling down — and for how Georgia Tech receiver Christian Leary got behind two defenders, including All-America safety Kam Kinchens, for the winning score.
Cristobal said players have responded the right way, which is all he can ask. He also told Chaney, Kinchens and any other players who were on the field in the final 26 seconds that they were in no way responsible for the final events that led to the loss.
All the blame, he insists, goes to him.
“You go through things and sometimes you’re not prepared for things and sometimes you still have conflict, but family stays together,” defensive coordinator Lance Guidry said. “And that’s what we preach around here.”
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll