Duke Football: Expert Expectations

Writer: 
November 30, 2009
Gaining momentum:

Gaining momentum: Pigskin prognosticators give Coach Cut high marks for turnaround potential. Jon Gardiner

Jon Scher '84, a senior editor for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com, asked his colleagues who cover college football for a quick take on the David Cutcliffe era. Does he have a chance to succeed at Duke? If so, what's it going to take? If not, why not?

Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com college football columnist: "Ultimately, it's going to come down to recruiting, which, if you believe Ole Miss fans, was his downfall there. I think he showed last year he has great game-day skills. If he can get the right players at Duke, I don't see any reason why he can't make them more competitive in the ACC."

Bruce Feldman, ESPN The Magazine senior writer: "Duke is landing kids that lots of top schools are after. That gives Cutcliffe a good shot to make this at least a perennial bowl team, mirroring the success we've seen at Wake Forest. A big key is how his staff is targeting guys earlier in the recruiting process, and, if you're at a school that hasn't won much, you need to be aggressive in your evaluations. They're doing that. Now, people around the program need to remain patient. It took Jim Grobe years to turn Wake around, and I think it's the same thing here."

Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com senior national columnist: "If anybody has a chance to succeed at Duke, it's David Cutcliffe. This isn't basketball, where you can turn a fifteen-player roster (and program) around with two or three recruits. So the bigger question is, What is Duke willing to do relative to facilities, support, etc., to help Cutcliffe succeed? If Stanford, sort of the Duke of the West Coast, can have success in the Pac-10, then the Blue Devils can have success in the ACC."

Jim Donnan, ESPN college football analyst: "Absolutely, because of his offensive philosophy and the fact that the ACC is wide open for someone to make a move. Bottom line: He is a great game-day coach, which adds to the chance to steal an extra game or two each year."