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If this is the end of coaching for David Cutcliffe, what a ride it has been

The Duke Blue Devils head coach isn't yet ready to talk about his future, but his past in the game is virtually unequaled.

A trio of top-10 NFL Draft picks at the quarterback position.

Architect of the offense on the University of Tennessee's 1998 national championship squad.

And producer of a 10-win season as head coach at both Ole Miss and Duke – the latter the only season of double-digit victories in program history.

David Cutcliffe isn't prepared to discuss his future in college football, even as speculation of his potential retirement from Duke swirls, but the coaching veteran with experience across five decades has left an indelible impression on the game.

“I'm not going to a post-game press conference that's about me,” Cutcliffe said Saturday, after his Blue Devils saw a 10-all tie with visiting Miami transformed into a 47-10 defeat. “It's about the football game. …

“Right now, (discussing his future) is not where my mind is, and I’m really not going to go into thoughts or details in that regard. I’ve got a job to do that’s current right now, and that’s where my focus is.”

Cutcliffe, unquestionably, has earned the right to dictate the terms of his exit.

He's the man who groomed Peyton Manning at the University of Tennessee and Eli Manning at Ole Miss into No. 1 NFL Draft picks – and then saw both quarterbacks win a pair of Super Bowl crowns.

With the Blue Devils, Cutcliffe transformed Daniel Jones from a lightly recruited prospect into the New York Giants' first-round pick – No. 6 overall – in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Cutcliffe first went 4-1 in bowl games at Ole Miss, part of his 44 wins in Oxford, Mississippi, and peaked with the 10-3 campaign in 2003 that culminated in a Cotton Bowl win.

Dubiously, Cutcliffe was fired a year later by then-athletics director Pete Boone – who turned around and hired Ed Orgeron in what has since been considered one of the all-time worst head coaching hires in the Southeastern Conference. Orgeron generated just a 10-25 mark in three seasons, only three wins coming against SEC foes, and was summarily fired after the 2007 campaign.

In between Cutcliffe's first and second stints as Tennessee's offensive coordinator, he briefly was hired as Notre Dame's offensive coordinator but health problems – specifically, a heart attack that resulted in emergency bypass surgery – forced Cutcliffe onto the shelf for a couple seasons.

Phillip Fulmer, his Tennessee run fading, rehired Cutcliffe to resuscitate the Vols. All Cutcliffe did was lead Tennessee to what remains its last appearance in the SEC Championship game in 2007 – and then take over at Duke prior to the 2008 campaign.

By 2012, Cutcliffe had been named the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coach of the Year – and by 2013, as Duke closed with 10 wins and a consensus top-25 national ranking, Cutcliffe was again voted both ACC and national coach of the year.

Cutcliffe would go on to post winning seasons in '14, '15, '17 and '18 before the program began to significantly wane after Jones' departure to the NFL.

Duke has won just a combined 10 games in its last three seasons, but Cutcliffe has remained a pillar atop the Blue Devils' program.

Now, after 121 career wins and 11 times serving as head coach in a bowl game, Cutcliffe has earned the right to decide if this is the end of a decorated career.


Sunday update> Duke has announced the following:

Duke Vice President and Director of Athletics announced on Sunday the school and head football coach have reached a mutual agreement for separation.

"After some detailed and amiable discussions with Nina King, we've mutually decided that it is the right time for change in the leadership of Duke Football," Cutcliffe said. "Karen and I have loved our time in Durham. Duke University will always hold a special place in our hearts. To our current and former players please know how much joy you've brought to our lives. To all of our coaches and staff, many who have been with us for 14 years, you will always have our love and respect. I want to thank Dick Brodhead for the opportunity to come here. I'm very thankful for Kevin White and Nina and their leadership. I can't say enough about all the faithful alumni and friends that gave us an opportunity to build and win here. I'm not sure just yet what the future will look like, but I am looking forward to some family time to reflect a bit on the past and see what the future holds."

"We are extremely grateful for David's leadership over the past 14 seasons," King said. "He lifted our program to unprecedented heights, both on and off the field, while maintaining the core values of the University and we could not be more appreciative of his mentorship of every student-athlete who played for Duke during his tenure. David and Karen have been tremendous ambassadors of Duke University and the Durham community and we wish them, along with their family, all the best going forward."