Duke takes on Wake Forest Saturday at 7:00 in the final home game for Blue Devil seniors.
The seniors made a commitment to Duke after a 3-9 season and as freshmen also finished 3-9.
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As sophomores, the win total doubled to six; as juniors, the Blue Devils won 10 games, the Coastal Division, played Florida State in the ACC Championship game and had an epic bowl game with Texas A&M and Johnny Football, aka Johnny Manziel, likely the only quarterback in American who could have engineered such a dramatic second-half comeback.
This year? Duke is 8-3, possibly 9-3 later this evening, and still with a chance of finishing with 10 wins again.
In short, if it's not the most important class in Duke history (you have to at least consider the Iron Dukes and their amazing season of 1938 when the team allowed zero points until Southern Cal scored a touchdown in the Rose Bowl in the last minute of the game), it's the most important in at least 50 years.
And amazingly, we sense a sense of near disappointment among some Duke fans. It's okay to be sad that Duke missed the title game this year, but disappointment? We sure hope not.
Let's be clear: what this team has accomplished is near miraculous. Eighteen wins in two years? Not long ago we weren't that far from two wins in 18 years. Duke's become not just a solid football team but a solid football program. And credit for that, while distributed to be sure, still goes primarily David Cutcliffe and the values he brought with him to Duke.
Talking about coaches and values is a tricky business these days. You look at what happened at other schools, the scandals, the exploitation of teenagers and, dare we say it, the selfishness of grown men, and Cutcliffe seems a real breath of fresh air.
You just look around the conference recently and you'll see Butch Davis doing some things which charitably could be called conflict of interest and others which you might characterize as unethical or worse.
Jimbo Fisher appears willing to tolerate anything from Jameis Winston as long as the kid keeps winning.
Whenever we praise the people at Duke, we keep in mind that they're as human as anyone else and capable of failures and lapses, and we're sure Cutcliffe and Coach K would affirm that (and if they wouldn't, their wives and children surely could).
As we suggested, we've seen plenty of respected coaches exposed as something quite different than what their reputations should suggest.
So far, we've seen nothing to suggest that David Cutcliffe is anything but the product of the values he holds dear: hard work, faith, honesty, commitment and loyalty.
Those values had a lot to do with the seniors committing to a 3-9 coach, just as they have a lot to do with keeping a staff mostly together in different programs.
We hope that Duke fans and Duke University reciprocate. Duke football is becoming something really special again. Duke fans should take every opportunity to thank Coach Cutcliffe, whether that means in person or by sending a letter or buying a ticket.
And the university? We hope that Duke will more than reciprocate Cutcliffe's loyalty and do whatever it can to express how much he has meant to everyone who cares about Duke.
It's very rare to find someone who is a perfect fit. As Duke goes for win #19 Saturday night, win or lose, the fans should express appreciation for what this class, this coach and this staff have done. Who ever imagined this was possible?
Duke fans, let them know Saturday. And we hope the University lets them know as well.