It was somewhat of a reunion.
In his ninth straight appearance at Raleigh Sports Club, Duke football coach David Cutcliffe covered topics such as his lack of facial hair, protests and the value of winning.
He told listeners on Wednesday, many familiar with his previous speeches at RSC, why he wouldn’t grow a beard, saying he’d resemble a “billy goat.” Cutcliffe shared his stance on athletes’ protests of the national anthem, saying he values the opinions of the people who have served the country on that matter.
But Cutcliffe’s primary message was how to value winning in sports. Winning is important, he said, but it’s not everything. With that, he shared personal insight to how he runs his college football program.
“I’ve been a member of over 50 teams in football. I have tried to every year be a great teammate; that’s what being part of a team is,” Cutcliffe said. “Sometimes I think that’s the most important aspect of it.”
He later added, “Do we teach winning, yes. Do we have to win to keep our job, absolutely, but we have to teach all the things that make you a winner. That is from 50-plus years of experience and being part of this.”
I’ve been a member of over 50 teams in football. I have tried to every year be a great teammate; that’s what being part of a team is.
Duke Coach David Cutcliffe
Cutcliffe said he writes a letter each week to his players, and he read the latest to the crowd at RSC.
Within the passages he shared was his philosophy on how not to lose sight of the bigger picture in sports. He closed by talking about how his son, Chris, as head coach of Oxford High in Mississippi, helped raise the grade point averages of his own players.
“Many things do matter, but I hope you’ve learned to embrace what matters most: your faith, your family, the people that are with you on a day-to-day basis and the welfare of all people you know or don’t know,” Cutcliffe read from the letter.
Duke lost 24-14 Saturday to Louisville, a top 10 team with one of the best offenses in the country, and it was a game Cutcliffe said he was “convinced we were going to win.” He got tons of kudos for the effort.
“I haven’t this year seen a more talented team in football,” Cutcliffe said about the 5-1 Cardinals.
Cutcliffe also addressed ACC officiating (he wants to see instant replay expanded and national officiating, as opposed to conference-by-conference), the changes in technology on football sidelines (the use of iPads and computers to see plays) and criticism of Triangle teams playing games in the brunt of Hurricane Matthew on October 8 (he said the teams had already traveled to the area and they didn’t think it would get as bad as it was). Duke defeated Army, 13-6, during the storm.
Duke (3-4) heads to Georgia Tech on Oct. 29 after having this week off. Like Army, Tech runs a triple-option offense.
“We’re very systematic,” Cutcliffe said. “We will remain within our system, and we’re working it right now. Familiarity helps you in that regard.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan