David Cutcliffe

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Duke extends David Cutcliffe’s contract into 2021

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The Duke Blue Devils are all in on David Cutcliffe despite coming off a losing regular season for the first time since 2011. The Blue Devils announced a contract extension that will carry through the 2010 season. The contract is set to expire on June 30, 2021.

Terms of the contract other than the length have not been disclosed. Cutcliffe was paid $2.3 million by Duke last year, according to the USA Today contract database.

“Simply put, Duke University is terribly honored and very proud to have one of the truly pinnacle football coaches in the country leading the Blue Devil program into the next decade,” Duke Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White said in a released statement. “To be sure, what Coach Cutcliffe has accomplished over nine seasons at Duke is nothing short of extraordinary! With David’s innovation, vision, passion, not to mention well-seasoned expertise, our student-athletes will continue to enjoy, both academically and athletically, the very best – actually the ‘gold standard’ – experience within the broader enterprise that is college football.”

Cutcliffe took over as Duke’s head coach in 2008. Prior to Cutcliffe’s hiring, Duke had played in just two bowl games since 1961, one of which was coached by Steve Spurrier. While there are more bowl games today than ever before, that should not take away from Cutcliffe managing to get the Blue Devils to four straight bowl games from 2012 through 2015 before having a struggle in 2016 with just four wins. Cutcliffe has also coached Duke to the ACC Championship Game (2013). Despite the step back in the win total for the third straight year, nobody doubts Cutcliffe is the right man for the job in Durham.

Report: East Carolina to name Duke OC Montgomery as head coach

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So much for that whole Brady Hoke to East Carolina idea. Going against the grains of some of the more recent reports regarding the head coach search at East Carolina, it appears Duke offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery will be named the new head coach of the Pirates. Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com reported that news late Saturday night. Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated also reported the news.

The 37-year old first-time head coach had been Duke’s offensive coordinator for the past two seasons following a year as wide receivers coach. Montgomery also coached quarterbacks at Duke in addition to his duties with calling offensive plays. Montgomery, a North Carolina native, is a Duke graduate, started his coaching career at Duke before jumping to a role with the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL for three years before returning to his alma mater in 2013. Montgomery also played in the NFL with the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders and a brief run on the Carolina Panthers practice squad. He also played a season with the Georgia Force of the Arena Football League.

As with most first-time head coaches, there is a valid reason to have questions about this hire for East Carolina, especially since it fired Ruffin McNeil from the position following his first losing season in four years. McNeil was 43-34 as head coach of the ECU program, with just two losing seasons with 5-7 marks (2011, 2015). McNeil is heading to the ACC to be a part of the Virginia coaching staff assembled by new head coach Bronco Mendenhall. The hiring of Montgomery is also a bit of a small surprise considering previous reports were suggesting former Michigan coach Brady Hoke and James Madison head coach Everett Withers were thought to be finalists for the job. Others that interviewed for the position included Virginia Tech’s Shane Beamer and North Carolina State offensive coordinator Matt Canada.

Montgomery will now get a chance to prove his worth and value as a head coach, and if he is successful he may end up staying on Duke’s radar for whenever the time comes to find a replacement for David Cutcliffe. After all, Montgomery is clearly a Duke guy, and if he proves he can be a solid head coach, he will most certainly be one of the names to keep in mind when the Duke vacancy opens up. But first, let’s see if he can cut it as a head coach at East Carolina, a program that should be capable of competing for an American Athletic Conference championship.

Duke’s David Cutcliffe proves good sportsmanship still exists in college football

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After a weekend that saw Tennessee head coach Butch Jones confront Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker about class and a BYU player get caught punching a Boise State player in the groin, it is nice to see a reminder that good sportsmanship does exist in the world of college football if you know where to look. Duke head coach David Cutcliffe helped prove that to non-believers and skeptics recently by writing a short note to Pittsburgh running back James Conner.

Conner, you may remember, was lost for the season after a torn ACL injury was suffered in Pitt’s season-opening victory over Youngstown State. The top running back in the ACC is already underway with his recovery and setting sights on returning in 2016, and he received a little encouragement from a division rival’s head coach. Conner shared the note on Twitter and thanked Cutcliffe for his best wishes.

Stand-up job by Duke’s head coach, and let’s hope acts like this do not go unnoticed in the future. College football needs more positive influences to share.

CFT 2015 Preseason Preview: ACC Predictions

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The ACC is starting to gain some confidence as a conference based on success in recent seasons. Florida State won a BCS title and Clemson defeated Ohio State in the Orange Bowl two postseasons ago. Last year the Seminoles were invited to the College Football Playoff and Georgia Tech topped the SEC’s Cinderella team from Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl, and Clemson smacked Oklahoma up and down the field in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The ACC will work the numbers to their liking to prove they are among the elite power conferences right now, but the numbers can just as easily tell a different story as well. Regardless, things look to be lining up for a fun season in the ACC with Clemson a preseason favorite of many, Florida State likely to remain in the hunt and Louisville proving to be a tough out. And then there is the ACC Coastal Division, where mediocrity across the division makes for another wide-open division race this fall.

Let’s put my money where my mouth is and go on the record with some predictions for the ACC this season. Feel free to hold me accountable at the end of the season when these surely go wrong.

ATLANTIC DIVISION

1. Florida State (Last year: 13-1, lost to Oregon in College Football Playoff semifinal)
Florida State has entered the stage of program development where it is appropriate to suggest the program is reloading, rather than rebuilding. The Florida State offense returns just three starters from last year’s squad, but it does add Notre Dame transfer quarterback Everett Golson. With Dalvin Cook recently being found not guilty of battery charges, he should remain a featured asset in Florida State’s offense . Getting at Louisville in Tallahassee will be key, but the road game at Clemson could prove difficult. I have Florida State, Clemson and Louisville all ending the season with identical division records and splitting game sin the three-way head-to-head. This one comes down to the 27th ACC division tiebreaker, which may end up in Florida State’s favor when all is said and done.

2. Clemson (Last year: 10-3, beat Oklahoma in Russell Athletic Bowl)
The Clemson Tigers are returning perhaps the top quarterback in the conference with Deshaun Watson. Many are already pegging him as a strong Heisman Trophy contender, and having one of the top wide receiving units in the ACC will certainly help his case. The offensive line returns just two starters from last season though, and the entire offense has just four returning starters. The defense is in even more of a shaky ground with a pair of starters back in 2015. But place some trust in Brent Venables to have the defense up to speed enough to work things out along the way. An early Thursday night game at Louisville could be tricky, and the final game of the regular season at South Carolina is rarely easy. But Clemson gets Florida State at home in Week 10, by which most of Clemson’s concerns could very well have been put to rest.

3. Louisville (Last year: 9-4, lost to Georgia in Belk Bowl)
Another team that has a bunch of starters to replace, Louisville returns just seven starters from last season’s team. And things could very well get off to a bumpy start with Auburn in the season opener and Clemson just a couple of weeks later. But I think they manage to split those games, winning the important ACC Atlantic Division match-up on Thursday night in Week 3. The addition of defensive end Devonte Fields should be a really good addition to the defensive line. Louisville’s defense should be very good, and perhaps one of the best in the ACC, but the secondary will have to step up and make some plays if Louisville is going to make the kind of noise I expect from them this season.

4. Boston College (Last year: 7-6, lost to Penn State in Pinstripe Bowl)
Boston College is going to be one of those teams that gives opponents a tough game, but ultimately will not have enough offense to make the Eagles any serious threat in the ACC. The defense can hold its own, but Steve Addazio has just three returning starters this season. None of them are on the offensive line. I suspect Boston College will try trusting the running game with Jon Hilliman capable of going for 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. Things may very well improve at Boston College as the season progresses, but there is a brutal stretch that includes back-to-back road games at Clemson and Louisville and that is followed by a home game against Virginia Tech. Playing Notre Dame in Fenway Park late in the year should be interesting as well. Boston College should have what it takes to go bowling, and a return trip to the Pinstripe Bowl may not be unlikely.

5. North Carolina State (Last year: 8-5, beat UCF in St. Petersburg Bowl)
North Carolina State is a team many people think is capable of making some noise in the ACC this season, and they very well could. The reason is the Wolfpack return seven starters on offense and seven more on defense. If experience is the key, no team in the ACC Atlantic Division has more of it heading into the 2015 season. There is not one thing NC State does exceptionally well, but they are pretty well-rounded in all areas of the game. Jacoby Brisset is back to start at quarterback, after helping the team improve dramatically last season. Now we will see if he is capable of taking NC State to the next step forward. The Wolfpack should get off to a good start with a favorable schedule, but I’m seeing some bumps in the road once they get into ACC play. NC State gets Louisville and Clemson at home, which is good and easily a recipe for potential upset alerts. I still will go with the favorites for now.

6. Syracuse (Last year: 3-9)
It looks to be a long season at Syracuse. The move to the ACC has not shown much improvement in the recruiting game under Scott Shafer, who could very well be coaching for his job this season. Syracuse could get off to a quick 3-0 start this season, but even that might be difficult. Then LSU comes to the dome in Week 4. Syracuse will get a bye after the big game with the LSU Tigers, and a road trip to USF comes after that, but then ACC play resumes and Syracuse’s next win may not come until 2016 at that point.

7. Wake Forest (Last year: 3-9)
If you thought Syracuse had it rough, take a look at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons will be a young team in 2015, giving head coach Dave Clawson some more expected growing pains this fall. Wake Forest could get off to a 2-1 start with wins over Elon and Army (losing to Syracuse), but it will be a long stretch of demoralization after that. If Wake Forest manages to get to four wins to improve on last season’s win total, that should be considered a solid victory for Clawson and company.

COASTAL DIVISION

1. Virginia Tech (Last year: 7-6, beat Cincinnati in Military Bowl – they also beat Ohio State, in case you forgot)
Virginia Tech has the best defense in the ACC this season, and that should be enough to push the Hokies ahead fo the rest of the seemingly always up-for-grabs Coastal Division. The biggest question for Virginia Tech is whether or not the offense can avoid giving it away. Having Marshawn Williams back and healthy at running back should help. I look for the Hokies to give Ohio State a respectable fight in the Labor Day season opener, bu the Buckeyes leave with revenge after last season’s meeting in Columbus. From there, things look good for Virginia Tech with no Clemson, Florida State or Louisville on the schedule. Pittsburgh and UNC are both at home too. The schedule and defense should come in handy this season in Blacksburg.

2. North Carolina (Last year: 6-7, lost to Rutgers in Quick Lane Bowl)
No offense in the ACC returns as many starters this season than the North Carolina Tar Heels. A total of 10 starters are back for UNC, including a healthy Marquise Williams at quarterback, but how much will he have to carry the offense this season? In addition to being the leading passer, Williams is also UNC’s leading returning rusher from a year ago (788 yards, 13 touchdowns). I’d like to see others take some of the pressure off Williams to do everything if UNC is going to make a serious run to the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte. Looking at the schedule, I see real potential for a possible 7-0 start, but I also see the possibility of a rough finish to the season. That would seem to be the opposite of what happened last season after UNC closed on a hot streak to overcome a dismal start to the season.

3. Pittsburgh (Last year: 6-7, lost to Houston in Armed Forces Bowl)
I seem to have said this the past couple of years and I will do so once more; Why not Pitt? Pat Narduzzi takes over the Pittsburgh program and that should help lock things down on defense, with seven returning starters. The former Michigan State defensive coordinator also inherits some of the top offensive players in the ACC with wide receiver Tyler Boyd and running back James Conner, but it will be up to quarterback Chad Voytik to keep things moving consistently for the Panthers. If the Panthers can get off to better than a 2-2 start (as I predict), they could make a run in the wide open division.

4. Miami (Last year: 6-7, lost to South Carolina in Independence Bowl)
Another year, another season of wondering if this could possibly be the year Miami finally plays in the ACC Championship Game. They have yet to do so since leaving the Big East to provide the ACC with more football balance, and it looks as though this could be another season that sees early promise and hype ultimately fizzle out in an up-and-down second half of the season. They have the quarterback in Brad Kaaya, but do they have the ability to pull it together everywhere else? I have Miami getting out to a nice little 4-0 start before visiting Florida State in Week 6. From there it should be on-off-on-off for the Hurricanes. That could put head coach Al Golden on as hot a seat as possible at the end of the season.

5. Georgia Tech (Last year: 11-3, beat Mississippi State in Orange Bowl)
The formula for Georgia Tech’s success never seems to change, although the effectiveness of it seems to have mixed results. Paul Johnson‘s offensive style picked up 11 wins last season and gave Florida State one of many close calls last season in the ACC Championship Game. Playing in this wide open division, you can easily make a case for Georgia Tech to make a return trip to Charlotte at the end of the season, and a steady defense helps support that argument. I just think there are some tough battles ahead this season with a road trip to Notre Dame followed by ACC contests against Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, Pittsburgh and Florida State all in a row. That can be a tough stretch for the Yellow Jackets, as could the final two games of the season, at Miami and home against Georgia. Georgia Tech will still be a decent team, but they may skate on thin ice en route to the postseason.

6. Virginia (Last year: 5-7)
Virginia has had a rough stretch under Mike London, and this might be the final straw for the head coach if things do not show potential moving forward. Unfortunately for London, there may not be much progress shown with a three-win season. Yet, I have them somehow managing to avoid last place and staying ahead of Duke? Strange, I admit, but I think Virginia manages to win a pair of home games in ACC play, against Syracuse and Duke, and that is good enough to sneak just ahead of the Blue Devils in the standings. It may not, however, be enough to assure London a job in Charlottesville next season. Early games against UCLA, Notre Dame and Boise State (and William & Mary) might be rough to watch at times.

7. Duke (Last year: 9-4, lost to Arizona State in Sun Bowl)
Do not be fooled by a last-place finish in the ACC Coastal. As you no doubt have learned by now, I view this division as a wide-open race, and I still predict Duke will be bowl-eligible this year. That will be because Duke has a very favorable schedule this season with likely wins in non-conference play and no Clemson, Florida State or Louisville on the conference schedule. Yet I still see Duke struggling to find much consistency in conference play. David Cutcliffe has done a remarkable job in Durham, but this year’s team may be lacking in enough playmakers outside of safety Jeremy Cash to find enough wins to make a run at the division.

ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Florida State over Virginia Tech
After coming out on top of a clouded three-team tie in the ACC Atlantic Division, Florida State once again manages to win the ACC championship game for a fourth straight season. As will be the story all season, the Hokies defense keeps them in the game but the offense simply will not have enough firepower to get by a team with as much talent as Florida State. But will this Florida State team have done enough to convince the College Football Playoff selection committee it deserves a second straight invite to the postseason party?

Duke loses starting CB Bryon Fields to torn ACL

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The rash of torn ACL injuries continues, this time costing Duke sophomore cornerback Bryon Fields. Duke announced this afternoon Fields torn his right ACL in practice on Tuesday, and he will be ruled out for the 2015 season.

“The cruelest element of college football – and for all of college athletics – is injury, and we certainly feel heartbreak at this time for Bryon and his family,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said. “We know Bryon is in great hands with our medical staff, and I have all the confidence in the world in Bryon’s dedication and perseverance to overcome this obstacle.  The challenge for a football team to lose a player with Bryon’s ability and experience is significant, but it’s one we’ll embrace.”

Fields was a two-time Academic All-ACC player in 2013 and 2014, and was once again expected to play a key role in Duke’s defense in 2015.