On a Saturday afternoon in November, a Duke Blue Devils athletic team won a contest which put them firmly in the race for a shot at the ACC Championship. Following the victory, as the students and fans left the complex, a confident chant could be loudly heard ringing out through the night:
I kid you not, #Duke students chanting “we want Florida State” leaving Wallace Wade
— Laura Keeley (@laurakeeley) November 10, 2013
Without being told the sport, you wouldn’t think that something like this would be all that surprising.
But, in this case, we’re talking about football. A sport which not many people may have known a few years ago the school even played, or at the very least, they certainly wouldn’t tab them as someone from a top FBS conference.
One man has changed all of those pre-conceived notions, though.
When former Ole Miss head coach David Cutcliffe was hired to take over the Duke Football program prior to the 2008 season, he had a vision. Whether or not people actually believed in that position–even the administrators who hired him–is something that I doubt. But, Cutcliffe knew was he wanted this program to be, and by God, he got them there.
Saturday evening, the Blue Devils won their fifth game in a row by defeating N.C. State at home, 38-20. With that win, the Blue Devils are firmly in position to win the ACC Coastal Division and indeed make those chants from after the game about wanting the second-ranked Seminoles come to fruition.
Not bad for a guy whose only claim to fame really was having worked in college with the most famous brothers in NFL history, Peyton and Eli Manning. Cutcliffe was the offensive coordinator in Knoxville when Peyton began to make his name with Tennessee, and he was the head coach in Oxford when Eli started his famous run at Ole Miss.
Literally, that was all that people associated with Cutcliffe.
Now, though, they’re beginning to find out that the 59-year old head coach is more than just someone who can develop quarterbacks.
He’s a man that can develop an entire program that was written off for dead for the majority of the 20th and 21st centuries.