DURHAM — Alabama fans impressed Duke football coach David Cutcliffe with their congeniality last weekend in Birmingham, Ala.
Cutcliffe lost track of the number of Crimson Tide fans who came up to the Blue Devils coach and told him they were traveling to the Duke-Alabama game at Wallace Wade Stadium on Sept. 18.
"There was at least a hundred of them," Cutcliffe said Wednesday at the Duke Athletics Tour stop in Durham.
Cutcliffe, an Alabama graduate, stopped briefly to question the motivation of the Tide fans.
"They started looking at me like I was dinner," Cutcliffe joked.
Cutcliffe's looking forward to his third season at Duke, and the big date with the 2009 national champions has certainly been a talking point on Cutcliffe's five-city barnstorming tour this spring.
"Everybody has been talking about it," Cutcliffe said.
Cutcliffe, who's 9-15 in two seasons at Duke, reminded the crowd at the Tobacco Road Sports Cafe that Duke has seven home games in 2010. The Blue Devils' average attendance dipped slightly to 26,314 in 2009 after topping 28,700 in Cutcliffe's first season.
"We have to get our fans in the habit of coming to games and making it part of their routine," Cutcliffe said.
The success of the basketball program, winning the national title in April, is an "unbelievable positive," Cutcliffe said.
"It gives us instant name recognition," Cutcliffe said. "When you have someone's attention, you have a chance."
Some of the best news Cutcliffe has been able to deliver to Duke fans is the health of sophomore quarterback Sean Renfree, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in November.
"He's at full speed," Cutcliffe said. "He's going through all of our offseason workouts. The guy is a machine."
firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-829-8938