Category Archives: Duke Football

Duke And Cutcliffe Part Ways

DURHAM – Duke Vice President and Director of Athletics Nina King announced on Sunday the school and head football coach David Cutcliffe have reached a mutual agreement for separation.

"After some detailed and amiable discussions with Nina King, we've mutually decided that it is the right time for change in the leadership of Duke Football," Cutcliffe said. "Karen and I have loved our time in Durham. Duke University will always hold a special place in our hearts. To our current and former players please know how much joy you've brought to our lives. To all of our coaches and staff, many who have been with us for 14 years, you will always have our love and respect. I want to thank Dick Brodhead for the opportunity to come here. I'm very thankful for Kevin White and Nina and their leadership. I can't say enough about all the faithful alumni and friends that gave us an opportunity to build and win here. I'm not sure just yet what the future will look like, but I am looking forward to some family time to reflect a bit on the past and see what the future holds."

"We are extremely grateful for David's leadership over the past 14 seasons," King said. "He lifted our program to unprecedented heights, both on and off the field, while maintaining the core values of the University and we could not be more appreciative of his mentorship of every student-athlete who played for Duke during his tenure. David and Karen have been tremendous ambassadors of Duke University and the Durham community and we wish them, along with their family, all the best going forward."

Cutcliffe was named Duke's head coach on December 15, 2007, and took over a Blue Devil program that had won just eight total games in the previous five years. The two-time ACC Coach of the Year and the 2013 National Coach of the Year, Cutcliffe led Duke to 77 victories in 14 seasons with six bowl game appearances, three bowl victories and the 2013 ACC Coastal Division championship. 

The Cutcliffe Era at Duke included the program's first bowl victory since 1961, a pair of NFL first round draft picks in Laken Tomlinson (2014) and Daniel Jones (2019), an eight-game winning streak in 2013 to mark Duke's longest since 1941, and final national rankings in 2013 (22nd by USA Today/Coaches and 23rd by Associated Press) to mark Duke's first showing in a final poll since 1962.

Cutcliffe came to Duke after serving the previous two seasons as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee. His head coaching experience includes a six-year stint at the University of Mississippi from 1999-2004 where he compiled a 44-29 (.603) ledger with five winning seasons, five bowl game appearances and a share of the SEC Western Division championship in 2003. Cutcliffe was named the SEC Coach of the Year in 2003 after leading the Rebels to a 10-3 record including a 31-28 victory over Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.

In his career, Cutcliffe has participated in 28 bowl games including the 1982 Peach, 1983 Florida Citrus, 1984 Sun, 1986 Sugar, 1986 Liberty, 1988 Peach, 1990 Cotton, 1991 Sugar, 1992 Fiesta, 1993 Hall of Fame, 1994 Florida Citrus, 1994 Gator, 1996 Florida Citrus, 1997 Florida Citrus, 1998 Orange, 1998 Independence, 1999 Independence, 2000 Music City, 2002 Independence, 2004 Cotton, 2007 Outback, 2008 Outback, 2012 Belk, 2013 Chick-fil-A, 2014 Hyundai Sun, 2015 New Era Pinstripe, 2017 Quick Lane and 2018 Walk-On's Independence. He owns a 7-4 record as a head coach in bowl tilts with wins over Oklahoma, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Indiana, Northern Illinois and Temple.

Trooper Taylor, Duke's Associate Head Coach and a member of the staff since 2019, will serve as the interim head coach.

GT at Duke Preview

The Duke Blue Devils ended their three game win streak with a blowout loss to North Carolina last week. Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets had their own problems in a similar lop sided fashion.

These two teams were picked to round out the bottom of the Coastal Divison by pre-season prognostications, so this is both sides' best chance at an ACC win on their slate.

It was not that long ago that the Blue Devils had gained mastery in the series with Georgia Tech. Since that time, the Blue Devils have slowly given back all of that momentum as the program has been slipping.

It is hard to imagine that Duke, a 3.5 point underdog in this game will be favored in any contest as they close out the season. That is not a fun place to be with so many games left.

Make no mistake, a win this weekend would be huge for the Blue Devils. And I think they'll show up for this one after a lackluster performance a week ago. If they don't show up, then pencil the rest of the way in as hard to watch.

At this point, the Blue Devils have a lot of football left. What fans want to see is a team that plays with spirit and the purpose of getting better for the future. And believe me, showing those signs are important for recruiting and getting fannies in the stands.

I expect Duke to come out of the gates fast in this one, I just do not think they'll have enough to hang on. Georgia Tech 35 Duke 24

Duke at UNC Preview

I will say it! Duke opens their ACC season with their archrival North Carolina in a scheduled game that continues to buck tradition past. In short, they are playing this game way too early. Well, that is not likely to change due to TV contracts and such, so here we are in an early-season matchup of rivals.

Duke has rebounded wonderfully winning three games in a row since their disturbing upset loss to Charlotte. On the other side of things, North Carolina came into the season overhyped and comes in at a surprising 2-2.

Before the season started the Tar Heels were picked first in the Coastal Division while the Blue Devils were picked dead last. Duke has benefited from a very manageable early-season schedule while the Tar Heels have already lost to two division opponents in Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.

The conventional thinking here is that the Tar Heels will take out their angst when the Blue Devils visit Chapel Hill at high noon this Saturday. Vegas has installed them as a 20 point favorite over Duke and some think that is not enough.

Duke hopes to keep the Tar Heels offense off the field with its running game. But for that to work, they will need some success through the air. The Tar Heels will try to steamroll the Blue Devils in blitzkrieg fashion and they have been known to run up the score in the series when allowed to do so.

We will learn a lot about these two teams this weekend. Duke is clearly rebuilding while North Carolina is supposed to be at the top of the league via big time recruiting.

Two things can happen here. Duke can play better than some think per the odds and frustrate the Tar Heels into rushing things. Or, North Carolina can right the ship where everything goes right for nothing cures ills like stomping your rival.

Either way, both teams will still have plenty of questions to answer no matter the outcome.

From a Duke perspective, fans want to see the team play with heart and if things go south, they want to see them maintain the spirit. From the other side of things, the Tar Heels seem to be in "no quarter," mode and nothing but covering that 20 point line is acceptable.

I do think Duke will show up, but that does not mean it will be enough against a more talented roster.

The Pick is - North Carolina 42 Duke 20

Cutcliffe, Duke Ride Momentum vs Kansas

The Duke Blue Devils hung on a week ago for a 30-23 win over Northwestern for the second consecutive win of the season. This week the Blue Devils welcome Kansas with hopes of making it three in a row before the ACC schedule begins next week at North Carolina.

That first paragraph shares that if Duke is caught looking ahead against its arch-rival; they could be caught off guard by the Jayhawks that are a 16 point underdog.

This may well be the last game Duke is favored in this season. If the future games would be played today the team would in fact be the underdog in all the games down the stretch.

That means the Blue Devils need to take care of business for wins are vital in keeping everyone happy. Luckily for Duke, the Jayhawks are not especially good but this is a team capable of playing well if they're taken lightly.

We are sure to see a heavy dose of running back Mataeo Durant on the Duke side of things and Kansas will counter with their quarterback Jason Bean who leads the team in passing and rushing.

Should Duke get a commanding lead, I expect them to play a lot of players keeping everyone fresh for the following week and trying to ward off injuries to key players.

The pick here is - Duke 35 Kansas 19

Duke Hopes to Upset Northwestern

The Duke Blue Devils got back to their winning ways downing North Carolina A & T a week ago. David Cutcliffe called the dogs off in the fourth quarter after a mostly forgettable first quarter where the Duke defense could not get off the field.

This week Duke faces another program that deals with getting kids in under high academic standards and one which is also somewhat rebuilding. Something must give for this game is very important to both squads in dire need of a positive direction.

This is not an especially intimidating Northwestern squad. They opened with a thud losing to Michigan State at home but recovered a week ago and has an identical 1-1 record as the Blue Devils.

The Blue Devils have not looked especially consistent either. They struggled running the ball versus a team that supposedly had less talent but came out with the win as their depth showed up late in their win over the Aggies.

I will save you the great details on what to expect from each team and simply say that while this is a winnable game for Duke; I still think they're the clear underdog.

The reason for that assessment is the play of the defense or lack thereof. You cannot find consistent playmakers or leaders on this side of the ball after two contests. They do not pressure the quarterback and sack him nor do they create turnovers. The only way Duke wins is if they improve quickly with both issues.

While the kicking game has been a strength there are just too many question marks for the Blue Devils for me to pick them to win. And it is not like Northwestern does not have a ton of their on for they do. Still, I just think the Wildcats will find a way to be more physical and take the victory.

The pick and I hope I am wrong is - Northwestern 31 Duke 20

(Season record 1-1)

A & T at Duke Chatter & Preview

Let's face it. Last week's start to the football season was a disaster for Duke which went to Charlotte for an expected win and came home with a sobering loss. It is not the start that a cash-strapped program with seven home games on the upcoming schedule could afford. Coming off a disturbing upset loss Duke is looking to rebound against another suddenly dangerous opponent in North Carolina A & T.

In other seasons the Aggies would be considered a win and are scheduled to be such. But this year the Duke football team looks especially fragile early on and if they cannot find a victory this weekend, they may not find one at all against an increasingly difficult schedule.

Taking the pulse of the fanbase it is clear that many feel this could be the last season David Cutcliffe hawks the sidelines in Durham. That is not something in which I take pleasure in saying for he brought bowl games to Duke and turned the program around.

I stated late last year that there had been a slow leak in the program of late and the start of this season reaffirms that there has been a drop-off in recruiting, player development, and finding the right coaches who fit each position.

Before I go further, Cutcliffe and Duke can flip the script with what many consider winnable games against the Aggies, Kansas, and Northwestern all at home. In fact, the future of Duke football rides on these three contests in my humble opinion.

Should the Blue Devils look awful in these games and win one or less of the contests, I think the writing is on the wall for an impending change. And Duke would be better served getting a search going.

New Duke Athletic Director Nina King will almost assuredly be making a move unless the team shows immediate life and some form of stability.

As of yet, the program seems ill-prepared for the coming NIL or new era of football. There has quite simply been noticeable regression. In fact, the only reason Duke did not hit the infamous ESPN Bottom 10 this week is that they ranked the ACC on the whole at number four.

You will not find too many people in the media that does not respect and like Coach David Cutcliffe. He has earned his respect but he is losing what he built of late and that quite simply means the much-dreaded sentence. Duke is once again rebuilding.

The Blue Devils cannot allow another chance of a rare victory in a season when the roster is young and depleted to slip by. One must keep in mind Duke lost star staters to other schools in the offseason from a 2-9 team, so expectations were low, to begin with.

Duke has been labeled a 21 point favorite over the Aggies who are coming off a loss to Furman. But beware, A & T has immense pride and they have a storied history. It was not long ago they shocked East Carolina on the road and yes, if the cards fall right, they can beat Duke.

The Blue Devils should win this game. They must win this game if Cutcliffe is to right the ship. And yes, this is an absolute must-win.

I have not studied the Aggies as I did the 49ers a week ago. I hinted in that preview Duke could lose that game and it surely happened in a shocking, disappointing style that left many embarrassed.

The reason for that is that the program is a bit fragile at this time where they are getting little separation from starters to subs in some cases. They need an influx of talent or to develop some kids better going forward.

If by the end of this evening we do not have some new names to talk about making plays at Duke, the pressure only increases.

It is hard to pick against a 21 point favorite in Duke at home. They are or should be desperate. They should go all out in this game. And they should be able to win against their level of competition if they are to play like an ACC school. But Duke is now at the bottom of a down ACC in football.

The question nobody asked David Cutcliffe this week is how the program got to this point. What are the reasons and can they be corrected? Right now, most people are starting to think this might be the end of an era simply from the inability to maintain a modicum of success in the much-important wins department.

I personally hope Cutcliffe can find the answers needed. But I do not see the foundation for that at this time. And I am not sure if the answer to the future is within the program. He is the man in charge and he makes good money to do so in an acceptable way. So, it is on Cutliffe how this all turns out.

So, yeah, the next three contests in my opinion will be the final tell-tale. I would like to think the players and staff will respond but only time will tell.

The pick this week is Duke 38 A & T 22

I am 0-1 on the season and 0-1 ATS. A season ago, I went 9-2 and 10-1 ATS. The season prior 9-3 straight up and 10-2 ATS, so I am off to a bad start too.

**There are plenty of good seats available to tonight's 8:00 game which unveils new concessions, alcohol, and other changes. Masks are required in Wallace Wade Stadium.