Friday, January 15, 2010

Duke's Cutcliffe: 'The job is not finished'

DURHAM - For those Duke fans who knew David Cutcliffe had all but packed for Knoxville, Tenn., and accepted a job as the new coach at Tennessee, Friday morning he presented a surprise for them by remaining as the Blue Devils head coach.

"I hope they are not all that disappointed," Cutcliffe said on Friday afternoon at press conference where he spoke about his consideration of possibly leaving the Devils after joining the team two seasons ago.

Considering his two stints at Tennessee, totaling 19 seasons, taking the head coaching job at the school certainly presented a difficult choice for Cutcliffe, particularly with the history of that program and the allure of the Southern Conference.

Still, Cutcliffe said he decided to remain at Duke because it was the right choice for his family. He said he also considered the growth of the program over the past two seasons.

"The job is not finished," he said.

Cutcliffe, who recently completed his second season at Duke, was named head coach on December 15, 2007. He owns a 9-15 record at the school. He now has a chance to improve that record and help the Devils turn around a long dormant program.

"It's a big sense of relief," Duke sophomore running back Jay Hollingsworth said.

Speaking at Duke's Yoh Football facility on Friday, he said it was his desire to remain in Durham, where he's settled on helping the school build a competitive football program, a difficult task considering the Devils' losing record over the past twenty years.

Having served as a head coach at Mississippi and long-time assistant at Tennessee, both schools in the SEC, he entered the job vowing to bring the toughness that marks that conference - arguably the nation's best football conference - to the Devils and try to create a culture conducive to winning football.

Cutcliffe's approach has seemed to work, sparking more interest in the program from recruits and greater confidence among ACC observers that the once-hapless program appears headed toward winning seasons under his leadership.

At the start of the 2009 season, there was talk about the Devils perhaps becoming bowl eligible for the first time since the 1994 season. The Devils finished 5-7, losing to Richmond in the season-opener and closing the season with four consecutive losses, but they seemed to shed the reputation as an also-ran.

The Devils needed just two wins to become bowl eligible, showing a small measure of growth that seemed to be directly related to coach's approach.

"We're here to stay," Cutcliffe said. "We're here to build a program."

-- Edward G. Robinson III


Anonymous said...

What does the Southern Conference have to do with this? Knoxville is close to Boone but not that close.

Anonymous said...

More copy editor free stories from the Raleigh NO. You'd think it were a town with no universities...

Anonymous said...

What a breath of fresh air! Thank you Coach Cutcliffe, for showing class among a group that rarely does.

Anonymous said...

I missed the presser where UT left the SEC and joined the Southern Conference. LOL!

Michael said...

Although they were a charter member, I'm pretty sure UT left the Southern Conference about 75 years ago