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A Word For Duke Football

Look past the Wake Forest game...there’s so much to be proud of.

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NCAA Football: Duke at Northwestern
Sep 8, 2018; Evanston, IL, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach David Cutcliffe looks on in the first half against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. 
Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt that the Wake Forest loss was discouraging and depressing. It’s not what we’ve come to expect from a David Cutcliffe-coached team and that’s the strangest thing. His Duke teams have had an immense and wholly admirable esprit de corps.

For coach and team, there are hard talks to have about that game.

For fans though there should be a bit of perspective.

Duke this year will go to its sixth bowl game in seven seasons. Do you remember what came before?

Steve Spurrier made one bowl and we think Fred Goldsmith made the other. The last before those two were in the 60’s and not the late 60’s either.

We’re not going to let one bad loss confuse us about what has happened to Duke football under David Cutcliffe.

Not long ago 1-11 was commonplace. Bowl games? A pipe dream.

Now we can grouse about not getting a fancy enough landing spot but a few years ago, everyone and everything around Duke football was demoralized and demoralizing.

David Cutcliffe is the reason why today we can look at the Wake Forest game as a serious aberration and why we expect better.

Consider this season. Duke has been gutted by injuries but for the most part, the young guys stepped in and gave their all. It’s been an amazing performance until the last three halves of the season.

The culture that Cutcliffe has built is impressive and almost exactly what Duke wants. Players graduate, they compete at a high level and the program has a nice sense of honor and, to repeat ourselves, esprit de corps.

So while the Wake game was a definite downer, nonetheless, we, and we hope all Duke fans, remain deeply grateful to Cutcliffe for doing things the right way. He has never embarrassed the university and we can’t imagine that he would. He seems to us like not just an outstanding coach and a decent man but a very good one.

We hate to say this but that’s rare in his profession. Look how many of his colleagues are regularly mocked: Bobby Petrino. Jimbo Fisher. The recently departed Larry Fedora. We could go on for a long time.

We’d be proud of Duke football if all we had to be proud of was the academic performance (like it used to be). But a winning culture? Honorable behavior, with bad behavior the great exception?

From us on behalf of (most) Duke fans: please don’t worry about the Wake game too much Coach. You’ve done us proud day in and day out since you arrived. One bad game won’t change the respect you’ve earned anymore than a bad season will.

We hope you stay here for a long time to come and we’re very grateful for your character and all your contributions to Duke football and the university at large.

Good luck in the postseason. Win or lose, Duke fans will be proud of their program once again.

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