Duke defensive coordinator Jim Knowles leaves for Oklahoma State

Duke defensive coordinator Jim Knowles is leaving the Blue Devils for the same job at Oklahoma State.
Duke defensive coordinator Jim Knowles is leaving the Blue Devils for the same job at Oklahoma State. Duke

Duke is losing its top defensive coach to the Big 12 Conference.

Jim Knowles, Duke’s defensive coordinator since 2010, was hired for the same job at Oklahoma State on Monday,

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy announced Knowles’ hiring, along with five other additions to his staff, on his Twitter account.

Formerly head coach at Cornell, Knowles spent the last eight seasons as Duke’s defensive coordinator on David Cutcliffe’s staff.

“We’re appreciative of Jim’s dedication and efforts here at Duke,” Cutcliffe said Monday night. “He’s been a valuable member of our staff and certainly played a key role in our success over the last eight years. Jim is a good friend and has been for a long time and we wish him well with his next opportunity.”

Duke allowed 20.2 points per game last season, finishing No.3 in the ACC, while going 7-6 overall and 3-5 in league play. That’s the fewest points per game the Blue Devils have allowed since 1977.

Duke allowed 35.4 points and 31.2 points per game in Knowles’ first two seasons as defensive coordinator in 2010 and 2011 while going 3-9 each season but steadily improved since then.

Duke has played in six bowl games in the past seven seasons, winning the Pinstripe Bowl in 2015 and topping Northern Illinois 36-14 in the Quick Lane Bowl at Detroit last Dec. 26.

The Blue Devils were particularly strong in the second halves of games late in the 2017 season. In Duke’s final five games, Virginia Tech, Army,, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest & Northern Illinois combined to score just 13 total points after halftime. That included no fourth quarter points.

Two Duke defensive players, linebacker Joe Giles-Harris and cornerback Mark Gilbert, were named first-team all-ACC last season.

A 1987 Cornell graduate, Knowles also worked for Cutcliffe at Mississppi in 2003 prior to his six seasons as Cornell’s head coach.