Duke's David Cutcliffe named ACC Coach of Year

lkeeley@newsobserver.comNovember 28, 2012 

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Duke head coach David Cutcliffe heads to celebrate after being doused with Gatorade by Duke tight end David Reeves (80), center Conor Irwin (76) and guard Cody Robinson (65) as Duke beats UNC 33-30 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C. Saturday October 20, 2012.

CHUCK LIDDY — cliddy@newsobserver.com

After leading Duke to its first bowl berth since 1994, coach David Cutcliffe was the overwhelming choice for ACC Coach of the Year.

Cutcliffe, in his fifth year at Duke, received 25 votes. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney was second with seven. Duke finished the regular season 6-6, 3-5 in the ACC. The Blue Devils were in contention for the ACC Coastal Division title until the second-to-last week of the season.

“It’s great news,” All-ACC cornerback Ross Cockrell said. “It’s just recognition of what we have accomplished as a program (during) his tenure. It’s huge for the program, and it’s great for him. He’s a great coach and person.”

Cutcliffe is the fourth Duke coach to win the award, joining Bill Murray (1954, 1960 and 1962), Steve Spurrier (1988 and 1989) and Fred Goldsmith (1994).

“This honor is both humbling and rewarding because of the quality of the coaches in our conference,” Cutcliffe said in a statement released by the school. “Like all awards, the credit reaches far beyond one person and this is truly one for our entire program. Ultimately, the acclaim goes to both our staff and the group of young men that came to practice every day with a desire to improve and prepare, gave their best effort on Saturdays, succeeded academically and served our community with pure selflessness.”

Cutcliffe is the first ACC coach to win the award with a .500 regular season record since Wake Forest’s Bill Tate in 1964. But the turnaround he has engineered in five seasons at Duke has been remarkable. Before arriving in 2008, Duke had won 10 games total in the previous eight years. Since then, the Blue Devils have gone 21-39. Their 6-6 finish this year matched the win total from the previous two seasons combined.

Duke will have a chance to clinch its first winning season since 1994 with its bowl game next month. Cutcliffe has a 4-1 postseason record from his time as the head coach at Mississippi.

“It’s been a long journey for us starting with Coach Cut’s first day,” Cockrell said. “We still have a lot of work to do. We’ve made progress, and we want to continue to further the expectations of every one around us.”

Previously, Cutcliffe was named the SEC Coach of the Year while at Ole Miss in 2003. In 1998, while he was the offensive coordinator for the national champion Tennessee Volunteers, Cutcliffe received the Frank Broyles Award, given to college football’s top assistant.

Keeley 919-829-4556; Twitter @laurakeeley

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