Blue Devils' Cutcliffe outlasts Triangle coaches

lkeeley@newsobserver.comNovember 26, 2012 

UNCDUKE15-SP-102012-RTW

Duke coach David Cutcliffe is mobbed by fans as they celebrate the Blue Devils' 33-30 victory over North Carolina on Saturday October 20, 2012 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C.

ROBERT WILLETT — rwillett@newsobserver.com

With Tom O’Brien’s dismissal at N.C. State, Duke’s David Cutcliffe is now the longest-tenured head coach in the Triangle.

And, thanks to a contract extension he signed last week, he isn’t going anywhere.

Cutcliffe, in his fifth year at Duke, has turned the Blue Devils from the worst team in the FBS into a bowl-eligible squad that competed for the ACC Coastal Division Title up until the penultimate week of the regular season. Duke finished the regular season 6-6, snapping two long losing streaks against Wake Forest and UNC in the process, and will play in a bowl game for the first time since 1994.

Last Wednesday, the school announced that Cutcliffe, who had been mentioned as a possible replacement at Tennessee, had signed a contract extension that runs through June 30, 2019. As a private school, Duke wasn’t obligated to release the terms of the deal.

Cutcliffe told the media Sunday after the Nov. 17 loss at Georgia Tech that he was staying at Duke.

“We’ve got great people here, I’m fortunate to be here,” Cutcliffe said at the time. “I love this institution, and I love the people that are here. I feel very strongly about that.”

Only Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer (1987) and Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe (2000) have been at their current ACC schools longer than Cutcliffe. Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson was also hired prior to the 2008 season.

Cutcliffe inherited a team that had won 10 games-total-in the eight seasons prior to his arrival. In 2008, Duke lawyers successfully argued in a Kentucky state court ruled that Duke was the worst college football team in the country and, therefore, did not have to pay Louisville $450,000 for cancelling three scheduled games.

Since Cutcliffe’s arrival prior to the 2008 season, Duke is 21-39 (.350) and, this year, clinched the school’s first bowl berth since 1994. The Blue Devils also snapped a 12-year losing streak against Wake Forest Sept. 29 with a 34-27 win and an eight-year skid against UNC with a last-second, 33-30 come-from-behind win on Oct. 20. It was the Blue Devils’ second win over the Tar Heels in 23 years.

“I take a lot of pride, and I know the other seniors in the locker room do, of leaving this program definitely in a lot better place than when we first came here,” senior center Brian Moore said. “That was kind of what we were sold on when we were getting recruited, and it’s nice to see those plans pay off at the end.”

Sunday, Cutcliffe was out recruiting again, selling his program to the next wave of future Blue Devils.

Keeley 919-829-4556; Twitter @laurakeeley

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