The rumors swelled like a hot air balloon leaving Durham for Ann Arbor, yet David Cutcliffe is still with the Duke Blue Devils football team. The 2013 National Coach of the Year appears to be finishing the job in 2014, and this bodes well for the Blue Devils, who will be taking on another coach on the verge of departure in Todd Graham of the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Arizona State once had an inside shot at the College Football Playoff, while Duke always remained the threat across the street looking into the window of the final four. Both 9-3 teams from reputable conferences, Duke could take the greater leap in becoming a reputable football program and take another step toward the inner circle that envelops their lauded academics and basketball supremacy.
Coaching matters in college football as much as pedigree does in horse racing. It is paramount and nearly absolute. A myriad of examples, from Jim Harbaugh’s work at San Jose and the Stanford Cardinal to everything Nick Saban has touched, solidify this assertion. Considering Duke’s previous head coach — Ted Roof — went 6-45, these last two seasons have been a godsend for the Blue Devils.
Keeping Cutcliffe thus far is a big victory for Duke, and it’s their best shot at a big victory over the No. 15 Sun Devils in the Hyundai Sun Bowl on Dec. 27. Even if he may not stay in town to celebrate, if Cutcliffe can get Duke this win, he’ll have entered Duke into a December conversation that didn’t come from Cameron.