Football's Fresh Start

April 1, 2008
Clean break: Players are eager to win again

Clean break: Players are eager to win again. Jon Gardiner

David Cutcliffe, assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee, has been named Duke's twenty-first head football coach, replacing Ted Roof, who was fired in November. As head coach of the University of Mississippi from 1999 to 2004, Cutcliffe led his teams to four bowl games. He mentored NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning during his stints at Tennessee and Ole Miss, respectively.

From Vol to Blue Devil: Cutcliffe, left, and Alleva

From Vol to Blue Devil: Cutcliffe, left, and Alleva
Jon Gardiner

"When I announced my decision to move in a different direction with our football program," said athletics director Joe Alleva, "I clearly stated our criteria: We were looking for a leader who has head-coaching experience," preferably at the top levels of college football. In addition, Alleva said, Duke sought a coach who "has directed a winning football program; has an outstanding offensive mind; has proven himself on the recruiting trail; will represent the university in an exemplary fashion, both on campus and in the Durham community; and understands that, at Duke, academic excellence goes hand-in-hand with excellence on the playing fields."

Alleva believes he has found his man in Cutcliffe, fifty-three, who comes to Duke after working at Tennessee for the past two seasons. During his time as head coach at Mississippi, he compiled a 44-29 record and won a share of the Southeastern Conference's western division championship in 2003. Cutcliffe was named the SEC Coach of the Year that year after leading the Rebels to a 10-3 record, including a 31-28 victory over Oklahoma State University in the Cotton Bowl. Duke's athletics department would not reveal Cutcliffe's salary, but ESPN reported that Duke will pay him $1.5 million per year over six years.

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Cutcliffe graduated from the University of Alabama in 1976. He and his wife, Karen Cutcliffe, have four children.