David Cutcliffe has won 40 games in his seven years as Duke's head coach. Admittedly, that doesn't sound like a lot at first blush, just under six a year, but one would have to go back all the way to Nov. 3, 1990 --o ne year after Steve Spurrier left for Florida! --to count the 40 most recent wins before Cut's arrival. That's a span of 195 games. The Blue Devils compiled more winless seasons (four) than bowl trips (one) during that 18-year stretch.
Considering the circumstances, Cutcliffe's now eight-year tenure has been one of the most impressive runs of its era, specifically Duke's 19-8 mark over the past two seasons.
Cutcliffe and Duke are partners that found each other at the right time. Duke needed a tactician and a skilled program builder, and Cutcliffe was looking for one more shot to run a program after Ole Miss prematurely dismissed him four years prior. Though he had never visited campus prior to interviewing in Durham, the fit just worked. There are a number of reasons for that, but in an interview with Sirius XM College Sports at ACC media days Tuesday, Cutcliffe cited the belief he has in those working for and with him, and vice versa.
"The most rewarding part of it is just the people we have been surrounded by," he said. "I walk in our building, this is going to sound like a goody-goody story but it's the truth, when I walk in our building in the morning, I don't know who I'm going to see first. Whether it's somebody in the equipment room, or a player, or a coach, or strength, medical, doesn't matter, whomever I see is a person I love and I trust. And that has been the difference maker, and that is what we all strive to do with our careers."
Cutcliffe insisted he isn't near retirement -- he is only 60, after all -- but he was old enough to appreciate that the Duke job came toward the end of his career rather than the opposite.
"We want to be surrounded by those kinds of people, and that's where the buck has stopped with me. You mentioned the Triangle, I didn't really know anything about it. I had never seen Duke until I came and interviewed, I had recruited in the area when I was at Tennessee. We love the area, love the state of North Carolina. I am as happy as I've been in a 40-year career of coaching, or maybe happier would be a way to say it, and so I'm kind of blessed that this fell more near the end - I'm not at the end - but near the end of my career than at my beginning," he said. "We're very fulfilled."