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David Cutcliffe

David Cutcliffe
Cutcliffe in 2012
Sport(s) Football
Current position
Title Head coach
Team Duke
Conference ACC
Record 46–50
Annual salary $1.7 million[1]
Biographical details
Born (1954-09-16) September 16, 1954
Birmingham, Alabama
Alma mater University of Alabama
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1976–1979 Banks HS (AL) (Assistant)
1980–1981 Banks HS (AL)
1982 Tennessee (Assistant)
1983–1988 Tennessee (TE)
1989 Tennessee (RB)
1990–1991 Tennessee (QB)
1992 Tennessee (PGC/QB)
1993–1994 Tennessee (OC/QB)
1995–1998 Tennessee (AHC/OC/QB)
1998–2004 Ole Miss
2005 Notre Dame (AHC/QB)
2006–2007 Tennessee (AHC/OC/QB)
2008–present Duke
Head coaching record
Overall 90–79
Bowls 4–4
College Football Data Warehouse
Accomplishments and honors
SEC Western Division (2003)
ACC Coastal Division (2013)
Broyles Award (1998)
SEC Coach of the Year (2003)
ACC Coach of the Year (2012, 2013)
Walter Camp Coach of the Year (2013)
The Sporting News Co-Coach of the Year (2013)
Maxwell Football Club Coach of the Year (2013)
Bobby Dodd Coach of The Year (2013)
AFCA Coach of the Year (2013)

David Cutcliffe (born September 16, 1954) is the head football coach of the Duke University Blue Devils. Under Cutcliffe, in 2012 the Blue Devils ended an 18-year bowl drought and also brought the Victory Bell back to Duke after beating arch-rival University of North Carolina in 2012. The following season, 2013, Cutcliffe led the team to a second straight bowl appearance, another win over North Carolina, an Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division championship and the first 10-win season in school history.[2] He also earned multiple college football coach of the year awards from the Walter Camp Football Foundation,[3] the Maxwell Football Club, and the Bobby Dodd Foundation.[4]


  • Early life 1
  • Early coaching history 2
  • Head coaching 3
  • Post-Ole Miss 4
  • Duke University 5
  • Quarterback coaching 6
  • Family 7
  • Head coaching record 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Early life

Cutcliffe was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, which played a formative role in his development as a football coach.[5] He has two brothers (Charles "Paige" Cutcliffe, and Raymond Eugene "JR." Cutcliffe) and three sisters (Mary Marlyn Cutcliffe Sullivan, Margart Lynn Cutcliffe, and Elizabeth "Buff" Cutcliffe Easterly.) Cutcliffe attended Banks High School in Birmingham where he played football. He attended the University of Alabama, where he worked as an assistant director of the athletic dormitory. Contrary to popular belief, he was never on Bear Bryant's Alabama staff.

Early coaching history

In 1976 he took a job at Banks High School where he served as an assistant and later as the head coach. In 1982, he was hired as a part-time coach at the University of Tennessee. A year later, he was promoted to full-time status as the tight ends and assistant offensive line coach. By 1990, Cutcliffe was coaching the position he is now well known for, quarterback. Cutcliffe was promoted to offensive coordinator in 1993. As coordinator, Cutcliffe helped lead the Vols to two Southeastern Conference championships and a national championship. He also helped groom Heath Shuler and future Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning, serving as their position coach.

Head coaching

On December 2, 1998, Cutcliffe was hired as the head football coach at Ole Miss. Cutcliffe had success at Ole Miss, where he recruited Eli Manning, son of Ole Miss player Archie Manning, to play quarterback. In 2003, Cutcliffe's Rebels tied LSU for the Southeastern Conference West Division title, and they won the Cotton Bowl Classic.

Cutcliffe was fired by Ole Miss Athletic Director Pete Boone in December 2004 after his only losing season at Ole Miss. Boone had asked Cutcliffe to fire some assistant coaches and provide a detailed plan for improving the program, specifically the defense and recruiting. Cutcliffe refused to fire any staff members, and was subsequently fired along with his assistants.[6]

Post-Ole Miss

After his stint at Ole Miss, Cutcliffe was hired as the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame, but health problems forced him to resign before his first season there. In 2005, he underwent successful triple-bypass surgery to correct a 99-percent blocked artery.[7] After taking a year off he returned to Knoxville to coach Tennessee again and join his sons, Chris Cutcliffe and Marcus Hilliard, then Tennessee students, on campus (his daughter, Katie Cutcliffe, is a current Tennessee student). After Cutcliffe's successor as offensive coordinator at Tennessee, Randy Sanders, resigned, Phillip Fulmer rehired Cutcliffe to replace him.

Cutcliffe led a major turnaround of the Tennessee offense during the 2006 season. Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge ranked among the nation's top 25 passers by yardage, and Robert Meachem had the third-most receiving yards of any player.[8]

Duke University

Cutcliffe meeting with players, 2012

Cutcliffe was hired as the head football coach at Duke University on December 14, 2007,[9] replacing Ted Roof, who had amassed a 6–45 win-loss record (3–33 in the ACC) over four-plus years at the school. Cutcliffe inherited a program that had tallied only three winning seasons in the last 25 years and, before the 2008 season, had not beaten an ACC opponent in over three seasons.[10]

Cutcliffe immediately began a strength and conditioning program, challenging the team to collectively lose 1,000 pounds after finding the team in less than ideal physical shape.[11]

On Saturday, August 30, 2008, Cutcliffe won his first game as Duke's head coach, defeating the James Madison Dukes 31–7, before a crowd of 32,571, the largest in Wallace Wade Stadium since 1994.[12][13] The game marked the introduction of a number of rituals that Cutcliffe hopes to turn into Duke traditions, including the Blue Devil Walk, which parades the players and coaching staff from Duke Chapel, through West Campus and past Cameron Indoor Stadium to Wallace Wade Stadium,[14] and the "Blue Devil Rock", located in the stadium tunnel and mined from the same quarry used in the construction of Duke's West Campus.[15]

In Cutcliffe's second game, Duke lost to Miami before notching its first road win of the season, a 10–7 victory over SEC opponent Vanderbilt. Next, on the road at Wake Forest, Duke lost in overtime, 33–30, missing what would have been a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation. This was another in a string of such painful kicking miscues for the Blue Devils, including a miss at North Carolina in the previous season. The next game, Duke went on to lose to Clemson, 31–7, before fighting to a surprisingly close 14–3 loss to powerhouse Virginia Tech and suffering a disappointing close loss to arch-rival North Carolina at season's end.

In January 2010, following Lane Kiffin's abrupt departure after just one season at the helm of the Tennessee football team, Cutcliffe quickly emerged as a leading candidate to replace Kiffin.[17] Cutcliffe, however, ultimately rebuffed Tennessee's overtures, remaining at Duke and stating, “After much thought and consideration, Karen and I reached the decision that Duke is the place for our family. We have both family members and lifetime friends in the Knoxville community and share a deep respect for the University of Tennessee. Our ties to the school and the Eastern Tennessee area are obvious. But before Tennessee’s hiring process comes to a conclusion, I know that Duke University is where we want to coach.”[18] Cutcliffe's decision was widely lauded as a rare example of commitment and integrity among prominent college football coaches.[19][20]

On October 20, 2012, Coach Cutcliffe led the Devils to their first win over North Carolina since 2003. In doing so, Duke became bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. He was subsequently named ACC Coach of the Year on November 27, 2012.[21]

On October 26, 2013, Cutcliffe led the Blue Devils to an upset of #14 Virginia Tech, 13–10. This was Duke's first win over a ranked opponent since beating #14 Virginia in 1994. With this win, the Blue Devils became bowl eligible for a second consecutive season for the first time since the 1988 and 1989 seasons.[22] On November 29, with a close 27–25 win over North Carolina, the Blue Devils clinched their first-ever Coastal Division title and a berth in the 2013 ACC Championship Game falling to the eventual National Champions Florida State Seminoles and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston 45-7. Duke also had its first 10-win season in the school's over 100-year history of football. Duke's historic 2013 season concluded on New Year's Eve in Atlanta, GA, at the Chick-fil-A Bowl against the Texas A&M Aggies, led by 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. In a high-scoring affair totaling 100 points, Duke took a 38–17 halftime lead before ultimately succumbing to a Manziel-led rally, 52–48.

Quarterback coaching

Six quarterbacks whom Cutcliffe coached in college have gone on to play in the NFL: Heath Shuler, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Erik Ainge, Thaddeus Lewis, and Sean Renfree.

Cutcliffe also coached former Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton while Helton played quarterback at Tennessee. Eli Manning's former backup, Seth Smith, plays for the Seattle Mariners.


Cutcliffe is married to Karen Cutcliffe. They have four children: Marcus, Chris, Katie and Emily.[23]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Ole Miss Rebels (Southeastern Conference) (1998–2004)
1998 Ole Miss 1–0* 0–0* W Independence
1999 Ole Miss 8–4 4–4 3rd (West) W Independence 22 22
2000 Ole Miss 7–5 4–4 3rd (West) L Music City
2001 Ole Miss 7–4 4–4 5th (West)
2002 Ole Miss 7–6 3–5 4th (West) W Independence
2003 Ole Miss 10–3 7–1 T–1st (West) W Cotton 14 13
2004 Ole Miss 4–7 3–5 3rd (West)
Ole Miss: 44–29 25–23 *coached last game of 1998, the Independence Bowl
Duke Blue Devils (Atlantic Coast Conference) (2008–present)
2008 Duke 4–8 1–7 6th (Coastal)
2009 Duke 5–7 3–5 5th (Coastal)
2010 Duke 3–9 1–7 T–5th (Coastal)
2011 Duke 3–9 1–7 6th (Coastal)
2012 Duke 6–7 3–5 T–5th (Coastal) L Belk
2013 Duke 10–4 6–2 1st (Coastal) L Chick-fil-A 22 23
2014 Duke 9–4 5–3 2nd (Coastal) L Sun
2015 Duke 6–2 3-1 (Coastal)
Duke: 46–50 23–37
Total: 90–79
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.


  1. ^ ESPN: Sources: Vols' offensive coordinator hired as Duke's coach
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Cohen, Ben (2009-04-09). "Cutcliffe recalls tension from past". Duke Chronicle. 
  6. ^ Associated Press via ESPN: Coach reportedly refused to ax coordinators
  7. ^ Cohen, Ben (2008-09-22). "Leading with the heart". Duke Chronicle. 
  8. ^ "2006 NCAA Football Statistics". Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  9. ^ McCreary, Joedy (2007-12-14). "AP: Duke Hires Cutcliffe As Coach". Associated Press. 
  10. ^ "Duke Blue Devils 2004 Football booklet" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-06-12. 
  11. ^ Flaherty, Will (2008-01-31). "CUTCLIFFE'S CUT-THROAT CONDITIONING CHALLENGE". Duke Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  12. ^ Carr, A.J. (2008-08-31). "Devils dispose of Dukes".  
  13. ^ Dell, John (2008-08-31). "Duke opens season with victory against JMU 31–7".  
  14. ^ Tomko, Michael (2008-08-31). "Cutcliffe Thanks Fans For Attending First Game". Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  15. ^ "Cutcliffe For President! Duke 31, JMU 7". 2008-08-31. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  16. ^ "Duke capitalizes on five second-half turnovers in rout". Retrieved 30 November 2008. 
  17. ^ "Tennessee Volunteers' search focused on David Cutcliffe, sources say". Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  18. ^ Glier, Ray (2010-01-15). "Cutcliffe will stay at Duke". New York Times. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  19. ^ "Cutcliffe staying at Duke". Durham Herald-Sun. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  20. ^ "Cutcliffe's loyalty rewards Duke, ACC". Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ 

External links

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