WASHINGTON – Rep. Steny Hoyer paid the Blue Devils their due Tuesday.
Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, made good on a bet with Rep. David Price, D-N.C., and delivered an “ode of praise” on the House floor to the Duke University Blue Devils, this year’s NCAA national champions.
Hoyer was the lone Maryland elected official who dared to make a public bet on last Saturday night’s NCAA Final Four face-off between the University of Maryland and Duke. The Terrapins lost and Hoyer, caught between the Devils and the deep blue sea, took to the floor of the House to pay up.
Holding a Duke jersey — which he was supposed to wear but took off ostensibly because he did not want to “egregiously step” on the rules of House decorum and give the House parliamentarian “a heart attack” — Hoyer paid homage to the Blue Devils. But not before he facetiously asked that the remarks be expunged from the official record.
The ode praised the Blue Devils as “champions worthy of the name,” noting that they came back from 22 points down Saturday to beat the Terps 95-84 in the semifinal, even though Maryland was “as ferocious as a lion guarding his den.”
“Duke was down 22 points and flat on their backs but, lo and behold, a comeback was hatched,” read Hoyer. “As the game wore on, the Blue Devils wouldn’t quit, and as for Maryland’s Cinderella season, the slipper no longer fit.”
The ode was completed by Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., whose district includes the University of Arizona, which lost in the final Monday to the Blue Devils. Kolbe, holding a Duke hat, asked, “Why did I make this bet?”
“Arizona, Maryland and the rest of our teams are left thinking of next year and dreaming championship dreams,” Kolbe read. “For now, the Blue Devils wear the crown; They can celebrate a great victory as the toast of the town.”
Price said he and fellow North Carolina Rep. Robin Hayes, a Republican and a Duke alumnus, were “as proud as we can be.”
Joking aside, Hoyer warmly praised the “extraordinary ability” of the Blue Devils and said all the schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which includes Maryland, are very proud of Duke’s performance.
His press secretary later read a statement in which Hoyer also praised the Terrapins for their gallant effort.
“I’m disappointed that the national championship eluded our Terps. But I’m very proud of the heart, ability, and courage they displayed in battling their way to the Final Four,” the statement said.
Unlike other Maryland politicians who pointedly declined to make a bet on the outcome of the game — the first time the Terrapins made it into the Final Four — Hoyer was eager to do so.
Both Hoyer and Price have close affiliations to the schools, which are in their respective districts. Hoyer is also a graduate of Maryland and serves on its board of regents, while Price is a former political science teacher at Duke.
The two struck a wager last week whereby the loser would wear the winning team’s jersey during a hearing of the Treasury subcommittee on which both men serve. They further agreed that if one team went on to win the championship, the loser would deliver an ode of praise to the winning team on the House floor.
Hoyer noted that only “the mighty Maryland Terrapins” beat Duke by more than 10 points in any game last season, but “unfortunately, it was not Saturday night.”
But Hoyer remains hopeful for next season, signing off his prepared remarks with the Terp fans’ new motto: “Fear the turtle.”