David Cutcliffe creating winning culture at Duke

While Florida State, Miami, Clemson and Virginia Tech have dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference’s headlines this season, there’s another team playing well in the ACC that hasn’t garnered as much attention — the Duke Blue Devils.

Duke is 5-2, and while only 1-2 in conference play, the Blue Devils are showing signs of success for a team that was laughable in the 2000s, going winless three times with only 10 total wins between 2000 and 2007 (six double-digit loss seasons in that span). But in 2008, the Blue Devils made a move that has made a clear positive influence in the program — David Cutcliffe was hired as head coach. Since his arrival, Duke has shown steady signs of improvement, earning its first bowl-eligible season since Steve Spurrier was head coach in 1989.

Perhaps the biggest sign of improvement is Duke’s ability to play from behind. In years past, when the Blue Devils would go down on the scoreboard, they were one of those teams that spectators just assumed would just coast to another loss. But on Saturday against Virginia, Duke was down 22-0 in the middle of the second quarter. Duke’s past would have suggested that the Blue Devils were well on their way to a big, conference defeat, but this team is different. Not only did Duke refuse to roll over, the Blue Devils marched to the tune of 35 unanswered points to earn the team’s first conference win of the year.

Now, the team’s focus turns to the last five games of the conference slate — at Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, Miami, at Wake Forest and at North Carolina. With two wins, Duke will be bowl eligible for the first time since the Spurrier days, which would begin to put Cutcliffe in a similar light as “The Old Ball Coach,” who is widely considered as the most effective coach in Duke football history.


5 thoughts on “David Cutcliffe creating winning culture at Duke

  1. connorsmo

    You continue to impress me with your crisp writing Ben. Like the topic that hasn’t really been touched on. The only criticism I have in your blog post is that I would like to know who Duke has beaten since they are 1-2 in two in conference play. Are the Blue Devils’ other wins against mediocre opponents?

  2. tanyasic

    Good new topic that hasn’t really been touched on in these blogs in terms of head coaches’ affects on teams. The only thing I would’ve liked to see is maybe some stats that back up Cutcliffe’s success and the team’s success since he’s arrived as HC.

  3. connorriley

    You certainly nailed the article with timing, as Duke upset Virginia Tech this weekend. At the end the wording gets a little confusing, as Duke was bowl eligible last year. They did become bowl eligible for the first time ever in back to back seasons, but you couldn’t have known that at the time of the post.
    I would’ve focused a little more on Cutcliffe’s past coaching jobs, as he seemed like the focal point of the article based off the title. But it’s still a very good post.

  4. Savannah Brock

    I liked this topic because Duke is never really on people’s radar when it comes to football. I would have gone into more detail about everything that Cutcliffe has done for this team. Maybe things that he changed when he arrived at Duke and the players he’s helped. Otherwise I thought you did a good job giving background information about the team and their unfortunate past records.

  5. Kristin Hiller

    I think you did a good job with this post, especially by bringing a new topic to light. The lead is intriguing and also directly to the point. There is context from the past which you compared to the present. The only criticism I could come up with is that some of your wording could be enhanced, such as calling the team “laughable.” Just give the facts and let the reader discover on his own if it’s laughable.


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