Duke Blue Devils: Wallace Wade Era(1931-1941)
There is no other era to choose from for Duke sadly. While one of the most prestigious universities in America has dominated the basketball court for decades, the school's football program has been a consistent laughingstock amongst power programs. Bill Murray, Duke's longest-tenured head coach from 1951 to 1965, did have some success. He took the Blue Devils to two Orange Bowls and a Cotton Bowl.
However, Murray's tenure also brought inconsistency as he had some mediocre finishes and a losing campaign in 1959 and 1964. Eddie Cameron led Duke to a Sugar Bowl win in 1944 but only lasted four years. In 1989, Steve Spurrier took Duke to the bowl season for the first time since the Murray days. However, he only lasted three seasons. David Cutcliffe stayed as head coach for 14 seasons between 2008 to 2021. Even though Duke had a 10-win 2013 season and won three bowl games under his stewardship, there were plenty of bad to mediocre years while he was there.
Of course, Mike Elko just had some recent success, guiding bowl teams in his two seasons in Durham. However, now he's gone as Elko took the vacant head coaching position at Texas A&M. As a result, we are going to have to travel back to the 1930s for Duke. I'm sure most of you have heard of the name of Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium. Well, some still don't know that their stadium is named after the greatest head coach in program history.
Wallace had a powerhouse in Durham throughout the 1930s and he still holds the distinction of taking Duke to its biggest bowl game. The Blue Devils made the Rose Bowl in 1938 and 1941. Despite both of those Rose Bowls being losses, Duke has never gotten close to playing in a bigger bowl game. If Duke, had won those two Rose Bowls, they might have a couple of National Championships.
Wade never finished this stretch with a losing season. However, this next part is crazy and shows how down Duke has been for decades after this stretch. Wade Wallace had Duke finish in the top 10 three times during this stretch in 1938, 1939, and 1941. Since this era ended, Duke has finished in the top 10 just two more times. Duke claimed six Southern Conference titles during this stretch and their #2 ranking in 1941 remains the highest the school ever ranked after a season. Wade would have a second stint with Duke from 1946 to 1950 but only had one final AP Poll finish.