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Cutcliffe: ‘I’m going to be coaching at Duke next year’

FIU Duke Football AP

If a coach’s public words can be taken at face value, you can apparently cross one rumored contender off Tennessee’s wide-ranging wish list.

With Derek Dooley officially out at Tennessee, the speculation has now shifted to just who will replace the deposed coach on Rocky Top.  One of the names bandied about, even before Dooley’s official axing, was Duke’s David Cutcliffe.

On multiple levels, such a move or even interest on the school’s part would make sense.

Cutcliffe spent 16 seasons (1983-98) as an assistant at UT.  He left the Vols to become the head coach at Ole Miss, with the prior head-coaching experience serving as a prerequisite in the Vols’ current search and having the added bonus of being in the SEC.  Perhaps most importantly, Cutcliffe has taken a historically moribund football program and, in five years, has it headed to a bowl game for the first time since after the 1993 season.

Add it all up, it would be foolish for the Vols to not at least give Cutcliffe a call.  If UT does come a courtin’, however, it appears a “thanks, but no thanks” would greet the overtures.

“I can tell you right now that I’m going to be coaching at Duke next year. I’m very happy here,” Cutcliffe said during a Sunday teleconference.

As Jayson Swain, current Knoxville radio dude and former Vols wide receiver, wrote on Twitter, “When Cutcliffe says something I take it to the bank. He always preached: ‘say what u mean and mean what u say'”

So, with Cutcliffe (apparently) out of the equation, there are still plenty of names being tossed around as potential replacements.  From fan-favorite Jon Gruden — this is my personal favorite as well, if for nothing more than the sheer train-wreck possibilities — to Miami’s Al Golden to Bobby Petrino — literally no chance of happening — to TCU’s Gary Patterson, all of the expected big guns are being mentioned in connection to what is still one of the top jobs in the sport.

Realistically, and likely wisely, the search will probably turn in the direction of coaches such as Louisville’s Charlie Strong and Louisiana Tech’s Sonny Dykes.  And, if the idea of previous experience as a head coach was to be shelved, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart could fall under what’s expected to be an expansive search umbrella.

After pushing Phillip Fulmer out the door and the failed Lane Kiffin experiment that’s still reverberating and the Dooley debacle, there’s only one certainty when it comes to UT’s search: regardless of which direction UT goes and who is ultimately hired, they have to nail the hire.  It’s literally as simple as that.

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9 Responses to “Cutcliffe: ‘I’m going to be coaching at Duke next year’”
  1. houndofthebaskervols says: Nov 19, 2012 12:42 AM

    Yes we’ll friends and family advised me months ago that David was committed to Duke, and could not be tempted by any offers for his amazing talent, even from Tennessee. Is it wisdom, I cannot say.

    However, I went polar bear hunting in Alaska last weekend with UT’s chancellor, and he told me in confidence who they were negotiating with, but propriety and the great trust I have built with the chancellor over the past 30 years prevent me from mentioning his name here. However, my family in Knoxville has confirmed what I was told so I will be in a unique position to confirm the hire after it has been announced.

  2. fnc111 says: Nov 19, 2012 1:01 AM

    But my mamas step sisters friend that works in Knoxville hear from a co worker that they will hire mark dantonio

  3. jimbo75025 says: Nov 19, 2012 7:45 AM

    That’s funny hound. I could have sworn I saw Jimmy Cheek at the Mouses Ear (strip club) last week. I thought he was there recruiting a new coach as well. My sources (the DJ) tells me the potential new coaches were named Saphire and Baby Doll.

  4. v2the4 says: Nov 19, 2012 10:29 AM

    I think thats a good move for Coach Cutcliffe…he is under no pressure whatsoever at Duke, and if he can win six, seven or more games there every season, Duke will consider that a major win..after all, Duke is all about basketball….if he did go to Knoxville, they would be expecting a turnaround in year one, possibly back to 7-5, and then expecting 9 or 10 wins by year 2 with at least a split of the Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina games….

    too much for any coach to reach right now.

  5. houndofthebaskervols says: Nov 19, 2012 12:17 PM


    David Cutcliffe is not now, will never be, nor has he ever been a candidate for the job in Knoxville. Cutcliffe is not making any brilliant strategic move here by staying at Duke because we dont want him.

    That is all.

  6. wvuandsteelers says: Nov 19, 2012 1:04 PM

    I think Sonny Dykes would be a mistake. I mean, that’s who Dooley was a few years ago. I figure Gruden goes to the NFL. Patterson isn’t leaving for that job. My guess is Charlie Strong will be the guy. Knows the SEC. Has had pretty good success at a BCS school.

  7. hor2012 says: Nov 19, 2012 4:38 PM

    I think the Vols made a huge mistake in firing Dooley. They just pushed thier program back three or four years. I know you have a lot of pride Vols fans but this isn’t the ACC. You’re playing in the toughest conference in the nation. And, you play against thirty to forty NFL players each year. It was going to take time. I wish you the best in finding your coach. But, I think you will rule the day you fired your coach

  8. jimbo75025 says: Nov 19, 2012 5:27 PM

    hor2012 says:
    Nov 19, 2012 4:38 PM
    But, I think you will rule the day you fired your coach
    Exactly how much further do you think UT could be “pushed back”? The defense is putrid and any SEC victories are distant memories. This year, unless the offense hung 50 on someone, there was no chance of victory.

    By the way, it is “rue the day”

  9. vols84 says: Nov 19, 2012 8:44 PM

    How is firing Dooley a mistake? He was 0-15 against top 25 teams and got whipped by Vandy. Three losing seasons in a row, first time since early 1900’s….now how is that a mistake.

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