The Duke Blue Devils were reeling after a 52-45 loss to the Miami Hurricanes at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C. on Saturday.
Coach David Cutcliffe thought his team didn’t play the way it needed to and missed an important opportunity to finish the regular season with a winning record.
Instead, the Blue Devils finished at 6-6.
“We were again flashy, but if I thought that we had played really good, we would have won our seventh game,” he said.
“We fought back to get in the game twice. That’s the sign of a lot of good things. It is; but not to be confused to be playing as well as we needed to play.”
The Duke head coach has been an understanding teacher and caregiver to a program that has needed nursing since the day he arrived in Durham, but he has now increased the level of accountability expected from everyone involved with the program.
“If you comfort the afflicted, then you afflict the comfortable,” Cutcliffe said when speaking to this point.
“We don’t need to be very comfortable – that’s just a fact – that’s where we are.”
There are new expectations for Duke football and Cutcliffe stated them clearly and succinctly after the Miami loss, and directed them towards his players and incoming and future recruits.
“It’s gotta’ be important to you. That’s the accountability we have to each other – how important is it to win,” Cutcliffe stated.
“No offense, but you didn’t come to Duke just to get a quality degree. You’re here because you’re expected to win.”
It is that message that Duke football fans and Triangle-area Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) gridiron followers will get used to receiving from the ‘basketball school’ in Durham.
Looking to the future
Duke recently re-signed Cutcliffe and agreed to a contract extension for him as announced by Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White last Wednesday.
The extension runs through June, 2019 – quite a commitment for a coach who has led the Blue Devils program to becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 1994.
“Without question, we have already made great discernible progress since David’s arrival,” White stated.
“However, as we assess our future – based on prospect evaluations, ongoing recruitment activity and player development – we are extremely excited, if not euphoric! To be sure, ‘Coach Cut’ represents just a great fit at Duke. David and the staff have done an exemplary job of leading the program, while subscribing to the highest institutional ideals, both academically and athletically.”
As money trumps integrity in operating intercollegiate athletics programs these days, it is rare to find individuals working in the industry who make themselves accountable for success and failure.
You can’t find a more accountable head football coach than Cutcliffe.
Hired on December 15, 2007, he has directed the Blue Devils to six victories this season, including a winning record (5-2) at home which fell short of adding another win with its Senior Day loss to the Hurricanes in front of 26,895 in attendance.
“We have great memories at Wallace Wade in 2012 – from start to finish – the players, the plays, the accomplishments of this team, to our crowds. There are a lot of great things that have happened on their behalf and because of them at Wallace Wade.”
He appreciated the support his team garnered from Duke fans during Thanksgiving Day weekend, and he heaped much appreciation and praise upon his players, particularly those in this year’s graduating class.
“We have much to be thankful for,” he said.
“I am very thankful that they have been a part of our program. All that has occurred and been overcome by so many people here this year – our seniors led the way. The injuries, the accident with Blair (Holliday) – it is some kind of incredible journey that has been taken since July 4th. The emotions have just been incredible. I want those young men to remember it and be proud of what they’ve done.”
Teaching how to win
With one game remaining to play this season, a bowl game at that, Cutcliffe seeks only one result for his team to achieve – a win.
“I would hope that we would know how (to win),” he stated.
“There is a fierceness to winning and it is all the time. It is absolutely every day. That’s what this level of football is – that’s what these BCS conferences are (about). There is an incredible amount of intensity, pressure and you see it all over the place.”
Though they do not know the exact details of when and where they will play just yet, Cutcliffe and his staff will get their players ready and in a position to accomplish something great for Duke and ACC football.
“We’re right there. “It’s like being at the top of a wall and you’ve got both hands on and your fingers got a firm grip on it – but if you don’t have anything really left in you – you’re not going to climb over it.”
Carolina Women’s Basketball Network
Follow the Raleigh Sports Examiner on Twitter @pksport
The Raleigh Sports Examiner – Sports with a Local Twist
Raleigh Sport Examiner – You Tube channel
Carolina Hurricanes Examiner page