RALEIGH — The recently announced renovations to Wallace Wade Stadium will begin at the end of the 2013 season and be completed before the start of the 2014 season, Duke football coach David Cutcliffe told members of the Raleigh Sports Club on Wednesday.
Well do what Stanford did, and as soon as we finish the last ball game (in 2013), construction will start, he said. It will require a day and night operation to get it up and running.
Last month, Duke announced a $3.25 billion, university-wide capital campaign named Duke Forward. Of that sum, $250 million has been earmarked for athletic facilities improvements, with Wallace Wade the central focus of those plans.
By the time the 2014 season starts, the track will be gone, the field will be lowered, and the façade of the stadium will be bricked in a style that matches the rest of the campus.
The planned stadium upgrades were one of several topics Cutcliffe touched on during his question-and-answer session. One attendee asked about the status of injured wide receiver Blair Holliday.
Cutcliffe said Holliday is doing well in his speech, visual and physical therapies.
Holliday was critically injured in a July 4 personal watercraft accident. He was unconscious and bleeding from the mouth after colliding with teammate Jamison Crowder, but in the interim he has regained the ability to walk and talk.
Holliday tells Cutcliffe he wants to pay football again. Cutcliffe tells him he supports his goals.
Blair is a miracle, Cutcliffe said. Right now, our focus is on getting him enrolled back in school. Lets try some schoolwork and see how he accomplishes those tasks.
Other questions ranged from what rule changes should be enacted to better protect players (eliminating chop blocks and all blocking below the waist) to his thoughts on conference expansion (he doesnt think its finished yet, and he believes in ACC Commissioner John Swoffords leadership).
Before the floor was opened for questions, though, Cutcliffe took the opportunity to tell a few tales.
During most game weeks, he will share a story or two with the media. Without a game to prepare for this weekend, though, Cutcliffe passed along observations he had picked up in his 37 years as a college football coach.
No one has an opinion about college football, right? Cutcliffe asked before passing along the one truism: If things arent going well, the opinion is that its always someone elses problem.
There was an old man who was sick of his wifes hearing problem, Cutcliffe said. So, the man went to the doctor, and the doctor told him to test the limits of his wifes problem by speaking to her while her back was to him.
One day, the man saw his wife at the sink, and, standing 20 feet away, he asked her what was for dinner. When he got no response he moved 10 feet away, and then 5feet, and finally he stood 2 feet behind her.
For the fourth time, its lasagna! Cutcliffe said, effectively delivering the punch line.
While Cutcliffe regaled the crowd, the rest of the Blue Devils continued their physical and emotional healing from the past two weeks against Florida State and Clemson, both blowout losses.
The Blue Devils (6-4, 3-3) still have a chance to win the Coastal Division with victories against Georgia Tech and Miami.
If we rebound, we certainly have two winnable games, he said. Challenging, yes. We havent beat either one of them since weve been at Duke. So, one at a time, we are going to try to accomplish that in a year where weve had some firsts.
Keeley: 919-829-4556; Twitter @laurakeeley