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TSN: Cutcliffe A Top 20 Coach

David Cutcliffe has seen his reputation soar following Duke's spectacular football season.

Grant Halverson

After Duke's breakthrough season, it's not surprising to see that people are taking a different view of Duke's David Cutcliffe:

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The Sporting News now sees him as a Top Twenty coach, pegging him at #18 between Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State and Washington State's Mike Leach.

What's happened with Duke football is pretty amazing; seeing Cutcliffe's reputation rise is very satisfying (TSN moved him up 28 spots).

We will confess that when Cutcliffe was hired, we had a Krzyzewski moment - as in: who?

Which was exactly how most people reacted when Mike Krzyzewski was introduced at Duke after a losing year at Army.

It didn't take long to get a sense of who David Cutcliffe was, though and that he wasn't just another guy coaching football at Duke.

Some of the other coaches in the TSN's Top Twenty are easy to dislike - Mike Leach, fired at Texas Tech for abusing a player and then refusing to apologize as ordered by his A.D., is clearly no day at the beach.

We've been a bit revolted by UNC's Larry Fedora, who keeps prattling on about winning and dadgum effort but hasn't bothered to pretend to care about academics  - even as UNC's scandal, which started with football pretensions, continues to wreak damage on the university. The man is as tone deaf as they come.

Jimbo Fisher oversees a program at Florida State which has risen again but which also has a level of punk behavior that's becoming an embarrassment to the university. Jameis Winston is the public face of the problem, but he's not the only one. Certainly he wasn't the only one shooting out dorm windows (Winston's suspension from the FSU baseball team after his shoplifting incident, by the way, is already over).

Cutcliffe may never get to where Fisher is, but it's also true to say that Fisher will never be the man Cutcliffe is.

There's a stereotype of football coaches as being, well, like Fedora and Fisher, totally focused on winning at the expense of ethics and honor.

In the best sense, though, football coaches, like other coaches, can help young men become better men.

Cutcliffe's character is the secret of his success. If you rated coaches that way, he'd be very near the top. We're not sure you could say the same for some of his contemporaries.