Friday, December 14, 2007

Cutcliffe would be great hire for Duke

If reports that Duke is close to a deal with David Cutcliffe are true, athletics director Joe Alleva has made a great move in the right direction for the school’s football program.

Cutcliffe, the 53-year-old offensive coordinator at Tennessee, is one of the best quarterback coaches in college football. His work with Peyton and Eli Manning speaks for itself.

He was 44-29 in six seasons as head coach at Mississippi, which made a mistake firing him after his only losing season in 2004. After he came back to Tennessee in 2006, the Volunteers immediately improved their scoring output by almost 10 points per game and their total offense by nearly 50 yards per game over the previous season.

If Cutcliffe comes on board, Alleva will get exactly what he was looking for – a proven head coach with potential to win games on offense. Considering Duke’s woeful recent tradition, that’s every bit as impressive a hire as North Carolina with Butch Davis and N.C. State with Tom O’Brien made a year ago.

Alleva was soundly criticized for his management of the athletics program during Duke’s lacrosse scandal and made two unsuccessful football hires in Carl Franks and Ted Roof, who was fired last month.

But if Alleva gets Cutcliffe on board, even his strongest detractors will have to admit he has made a great hire. – Ken Tysiac