Duke's Shaun Wilson (29), Jela Duncan (25) and Quay Mann (15) celebrate on the Victory Bell following Duke's win over No. 15 North Carolina on Thursday night. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
The paint didn't fly after all.
Duke's 28-27 upset of No. 15 North Carolina on Thursday night sent the Blue Devils racing across the field to re-claim the Victory Bell, a cart carrying a former railroad engine bell presented to the winner of the long-running rivalry. But the Blue Devils didn't spray-paint their darker shade of blue on it as is tradition following a couple of awkward days in which UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham had a permanent design put on the cart at least partly to discourage spray-painting.
That came two years after Cunningham and coach UNC Larry Fedora wrote checks to Duke paying for about $27,000 in paint damage from UNC’s victory celebration to replace locker-room carpet, remove “UNC” written on walls and clean up paint from Duke’s practice field. But Cunningham reversed himself by Wednesday after hearing plenty of fan pushback about doing away with the tradition.
That's why Duke coach David Cutcliffe was quick to quip after the win: "I don't know the rules right now."
"I think it's great that we're not firing spray paint," Cutcliffe said Thursday night. "I'm not being ugly when I say that. I never liked it. Some Duke people were really mad at me when I said that. But I got my shoes ruined my first time here (in 2012), I didn't know what was happening. I think that's something we need to look at and let the powers-that-be talk about that. So if it's going to be painted, it's going to be appropriately painted. That bell itself doesn't need paint on it. It's beautiful."
Sophomore receiver T.J. Rahming said the team was "going to get it painted official, by a painter" and noted UNC's 2014 paint celebration in Durham.
"This time we're going to do it the right way, in a classy way and keep it that way for at least a few more years," he said.