Whatever happens against Miami Saturday, Duke’s season will end. There is no post-season for a three or four-win team. We all know that.
But what of David Cutcliffe? Will Duke can him? Will he decide to call it a career?
We hope the answer to both is no.
Look, no one is happy about a losing season and no one, certainly not Cutcliffe, is going to defend it.
But there are things to consider.
First, a big reason why Duke became so epically bad at football for so long (at one point, Louisville sued because Duke pulled out of a contracted game and Duke actually argued that it wasn’t really a D-1 team - and the judge bought it. You can look it up - that really happened) is that coaches rarely got more than four years. By the time he was gone, the next guy would come in, show minimal progress, and he’d get canned.
Certainly Duke could fire Cutcliffe and hire someone else. But would it work? Well, maybe. Then again, maybe not.
That aside though, there are two main reasons why we don’t want to see him fired. First, without question, David Cutcliffe is an exceptionally good man. Not an exceptionally good football coach. An exceptionally good man. There’s always a lot of blather about coaches turning young boys into men, blah, blah, blah, and very few of them care about that. Cutcliffe has always cared about his players and tried to do well by them.
The second reason is related: loyalty.
When he first began to succeed in Durham -a task seen as impossible you may remember - his old employer, Tennessee, tried to bring him back as head coach.
If you remember, he could have bolted, just as Steve Spurrier left for Florida as soon as he could. We’re not judging Spurrier, but despite the fact that Duke took a chance on him when he was somewhat radioactive because of his strong personality...he didn't return that.
Cutcliffe has always been loyal to Duke University, its football program, players and fans.
We know he’s struggled lately but it’s time for fans to replay the loyalty and give him a chance to recover, should he want to continue. He’s done incredible things here and shown great character. Pushing him out would be awful repayment.
Of course there are guys out there who know how to win. Ed Orgeron might be able to get a few. Bobby Petrino knows how to win. He doesn’t know much else, but he does know that.
Is that all we want from Duke Football?
Of course not. Duke has always emphasized doing things the right way. The right way now is to let Cutcliffe decide when he’s done. Given what he’s done for Duke, for all of us, that’s the least we owe him. He’s been special in every way other than winning the last few years. We will have to look far and wide to find a better man.