Probably the most under celebrated coaching feat of 2013 goes to what 59-year old David Cutcliffe has pulled off with the program at Duke. Has this and other successes earned him a shot at the big job in the NFL?
Eli Manning and Peyton Manning can vouch for Cutcliffe success
The thing to remember about Duke is that football is a second rate program. Everybody knows the most premier athletes all come there to play basketball for the great Mike Krzyzewski. For a long time their football program has gotten little attention from the students and the media. A veteran coordinator and position coach, Cutcliffe vowed when he took over that he would turn everything around and make Duke more than a basketball school. After a tough start, the program reached its first bowl game in 2012 for the first time in 18 years. This season, they won 10 games for the first time in 125 years and have a date with Florida State in the ACC championship game. Yet his success goes far beyond what he’s done there. Before that he was head coach at Ole Miss for seven seasons, winning four out of five bowl games. Prior to that he was a highly successful position coach at Tennessee for 15 years where he won two SEC championships and a national title. The hallmark of his success is through mentoring quarterbacks. Among his greatest achievements include brothers Peyton Manning and Eli Manning who have said on numerous occasions a big part of their success belongs to the tutelage of Cutcliffe.
New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings could use quarterback-savvy coach
After spending so long in the college ranks, it’s hard to see him going pro at this stage. However, the landscape of the NFL has changed. One thing that is in high demand among teams are coaches with the ability to mold quarterbacks. That was proven when Chip Kelly, Marc Trestman, Rob Chudzinski, Mike McCoy, Andy Reid, Bruce Arians and Doug Marrone were all hired in the same year. All are considered experts with quarterbacks. So the demand for somebody like Cutcliffe is very high, which could mean very big money. On top of that there are several team that could be in the market for such a coach. Rex Ryan is nearing the end of his tenure with the New York Jets. Their recent drafting of Geno Smith will command the need to go get a head coach who can see the game through the eyes of the quarterback. Then there are the Minnesota Vikings. Leslie Frazier appears to be safe for the time being but several coaches appeared that way after last season and got canned. Minnesota will be in the market for a quarterback and may want the coach to go along with him.
David Cutcliffe may be underappreciated because he coaches at smaller programs, but his success is undeniable. His NFL ticket deserves to get punched if only a team makes the offer.