David Cutcliffe

David Cutcliffe
David Cutcliffe
Sport(s) Football
Current position
Title Head coach
Team Duke
Conference ACC
Record 12–24
Annual salary $1.5 million/year[1]
Biographical details
Born September 16, 1954 (1954-09-16) (age 57)
Place of birth Birmingham, Alabama
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Banks HS (AL) (assistant)
Banks HS (AL)
Tennessee (assistant)
Tennessee (TE)
Tennessee (QB)
Tennessee (OC/QB)
Ole Miss
Notre Dame (AHC/QB)
Tennessee (OC)
Head coaching record
Overall 54–50 (college)
Bowls 4–1
College Football Data Warehouse
Accomplishments and honors
1 SEC Western Division Title (2003)
Broyles Award (1998)
SEC Coach of the Year (2003)

David Cutcliffe (born September 16, 1954) is the head football coach of the Duke University Blue Devils. He is best known for coaching Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning at the University of Tennessee, and Manning's younger brother and fellow Super Bowl Champion Eli at the University of Mississippi. Almost all offensive records at both schools were set during Cutcliffe's time as coach.


Early life

Cutcliffe was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, which played a formative role in his development as a football coach.[2] He has two brothers (Charles "Paige" Cutcliffe, and Raymond Eugene "JR." Cutcliffe) and three sisters (Mary Marlyn Cutcliffe Sullivan, Margart Lynn Cutcliffe, and Elizabeth "Buff" Cutcliffe Easterly.) Cutcliffe attended Banks High School in Birmingham where he played football. He attended the University of Alabama where he worked as a student assistant on Bear Bryant's Alabama staff.

Early coaching history

Cutcliffe's coaching career began as a student assistant to Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama. In 1976 he took a job at Banks High School where he served as an assistant and later as the head coach. In 1982, he was hired as a part time coach at the University of Tennessee. A year later, he was promoted to full time status as the tight ends and assistant offensive line coach. By 1990, Cutcliffe was coaching the position he is now well known for, quarterbacks. Cutcliffe was promoted to offensive coordinator in 1993. As coordinator, Cutcliffe helped lead the Vols to two Southeastern Conference championships and a national championship.

Head coaching

On December 2, 1998, Cutcliffe was hired as the head football coach at Ole Miss. Cutcliffe had success at Ole Miss, where he recruited Eli Manning, son of Ole Miss player Archie Manning, to play quarterback. In 2003, Cutcliffe tied LSU for the West Division title and a win in the Cotton Bowl Classic.

Cutcliffe was fired by Ole Miss's Athletic Director Pete Boone in December 2004 after his only losing season at Ole Miss. Boone had asked Cutcliffe to provide a detailed plan for improving the program, specifically the defense and recruiting, as well as fire some assistant coaches, but Cutcliffe refused to fire any staff members, and was subsequently fired along with his assistants.[3]

Post Mississippi

After his stint at Ole Miss, Cutcliffe was hired as the Assistant Head Coach and quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame, but health problems forced him to resign before his first season there. In 2005, he underwent successful triple-bypass surgery to correct a 99-percent blocked artery.[4] After taking a year off he returned to Knoxville to coach Tennessee again and join his sons, Chris Cutcliffe and Marcus Hilliard, then Tennessee students, on campus (his daughter, Katie Cutcliffe, is a current Tennessee student). After Cutcliffe's successor as offensive coordinator at Tennessee, Randy Sanders, resigned, Phillip Fulmer rehired Cutcliffe to replace him.

Cutcliffe led a major turnaround of the Tennessee offense during the 2006 season. Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge ranked among the nation's top 25 passers by yardage, and Robert Meachem had the third-most receiving yards of any player.[5]

Duke University

Cutcliffe was hired as the head football coach at Duke University on December 14, 2007,[6] replacing Ted Roof, who had amassed a 6–45 win-loss record (3–33 in the ACC) over four-plus years at the school. Duke has had only three winning seasons in the last 25 years and, before the 2008 season, had not beaten an ACC opponent in over three seasons.[7]

Cutcliffe immediately began a strength and conditioning program, challenging the team to collectively lose 1,000 pounds after finding the team in less than ideal physical shape.[8]

On Saturday, August 30, 2008, David Cutcliffe won his first game as Duke's head coach, defeating the James Madison Dukes 31–7, before a crowd of 32,571, the largest in Wallace Wade Stadium since 1994.[9][10] The game marked the introduction of a number of rituals that Cutcliffe hopes to turn into Duke traditions, including the Blue Devil Walk, which parades the players and coaching staff from Duke Chapel, through West Campus and past Cameron Indoor Stadium to Wallace Wade Stadium,[11] and the "Blue Devil Rock", located in the stadium tunnel and mined from the same quarry used in the construction of Duke's West Campus.[12]

In Cutcliffe's second game, Duke lost to Northwestern in a mirror image game of the previous season's matchup, twice falling short of a touchdown deep in Northwestern territory. After the home loss against Northwestern, Duke hosted Navy, prevailing 41–31. Cutcliffe next led Duke to its first ACC victory since 2004, with a 31–3 rout of Virginia.[13] This was a complete turnaround from the team's 2006 game against UVA, in which the Blue Devils were shut out 37–0 in Wallace Wade. Duke proceeded to lose to Georgia Tech and Miami before notching its first road win of the season, a 10–7 victory over SEC opponent Vanderbilt. Next, on the road at Wake Forest, Duke lost a heartbreaker in overtime, 33–30, missing what would have been a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation. This was another in a string of such painful kicking miscues for the Blue Devils, including a miss at North Carolina in the previous season. The next game, Duke went on to lose to Clemson, 31–7, before fighting to a surprisingly close 14–3 loss to powerhouse Virginia Tech and suffering a disappointing close loss to arch-rival North Carolina at season's end.

In January 2010, following Lane Kiffin's abrupt departure after just one season at the helm of the Tennessee football team, Cutcliffe quickly emerged as a leading candidate to replace Kiffin.[14] Cutcliffe, however, ultimately rebuffed Tennessee's overtures, remaining at Duke and stating, “After much thought and consideration, Karen and I reached the decision that Duke is the place for our family. We have both family members and lifetime friends in the Knoxville community and share a deep respect for the University of Tennessee. Our ties to the school and the Eastern Tennessee area are obvious. But before Tennessee’s hiring process comes to a conclusion, I know that Duke University is where we want to coach.”[15] Cutcliffe's decision was widely lauded as a rare example of commitment and integrity among prominent college football coaches.[16][17]

QB coaching

Six quarterbacks whom Cutcliffe coached in college have gone on to play in the NFL: Heath Shuler, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Erik Ainge, and Thaddeus Lewis. Cutcliffe also coached Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton while Helton played quarterback at Tennessee.


Cutcliffe is married to the former Karen Oran of Harriman, Tennessee. They have four children: Marcus, Chris, Katie, and Emily.[18]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Ole Miss Rebels (Southeastern Conference) (1998–2004)
1998 Ole Miss 1–0* 0–0* W Independence
1999 Ole Miss 8–4 4–4 3rd (West) W Independence 22 22
2000 Ole Miss 7–5 4–4 3rd (West) L Music City
2001 Ole Miss 7–4 4–4 5th (West)
2002 Ole Miss 7–6 3–5 4th (West) W Independence
2003 Ole Miss 10–3 7–1 T–1st (West) W Cotton 14 13
2004 Ole Miss 4–7 3–5 3rd (West)
Ole Miss: 44–29 25–23 *coached last game of 1998, the Independence Bowl
Duke Blue Devils (Atlantic Coast Conference) (2008–present)
2008 Duke 4–8 1–7 6th (Coastal)
2009 Duke 5–7 3–5 5th (Coastal)
2010 Duke 3–9 1–7 T–5th (Coastal)
Duke: 12–24 5–19
Total: 56–53
      National Championship         Conference Title         Conference Division Title
#Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.


  1. ^ ESPN: Sources: Vols' offensive coordinator hired as Duke's coach
  2. ^ Cohen, Ben (2009-04-09). "Cutcliffe recalls tension from past". Duke Chronicle. http://media.www.dukechronicle.com/media/storage/paper884/news/2009/04/09/News/Cutcliffe.Recalls.Tension.From.Past-3704414.shtml. 
  3. ^ Associated Press via ESPN: Coach reportedly refused to ax coordinators
  4. ^ Cohen, Ben (2008-09-22). "Leading with the heart". Duke Chronicle. http://media.www.dukechronicle.com/media/storage/paper884/news/2008/09/22/Football/Leading.With.The.Heart-3444104.shtml. 
  5. ^ "2006 NCAA Football Statistics". ESPN.com. http://espn.go.com/college-football/statistics/_/year/2006. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  6. ^ McCreary, Joedy (2007-12-14). "AP: Duke Hires Cutcliffe As Coach". Associated Press. http://www.newsvine.com/_news/2007/12/14/1164776-ap-duke-hires-cutcliffe-as-coach. 
  7. ^ "Duke Blue Devils 2004 Football booklet". Theacc.com. http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/acc/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/duke-37-42.pdf. Retrieved 2007-06-12. 
  8. ^ Flaherty, Will (2008-01-31). "CUTCLIFFE'S CUT-THROAT CONDITIONING CHALLENGE". Duke Chronicle. http://media.www.dukechronicle.com/media/storage/paper884/news/2008/01/31/Football/Cutcliffes.CutThroat.Conditioning.Challenge-3180261.shtml. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  9. ^ Carr, A.J. (2008-08-31). "Devils dispose of Dukes". News & Observer (McClatchy). http://www.newsobserver.com/sports/college/duke/football/story/1200988.html. Retrieved 2008-08-31. [dead link]
  10. ^ Dell, John (2008-08-31). "Duke opens season with victory against JMU 31-7". Winston-Salem Journal. http://www2.journalnow.com/content/2008/aug/31/duke-opens-season-with-victory-against-jmu-31-7/. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  11. ^ Tomko, Michael (2008-08-31). "Cutcliffe Thanks Fans For Attending First Game". GoDuke.com. http://www.goduke.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=4200&ATCLID=1572991. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  12. ^ "Cutcliffe For President! Duke 31, JMU 7". DukeBasketBallReport.com. 2008-08-31. http://www.dukebasketballreport.com/articles/?p=25649. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  13. ^ "Duke capitalizes on five second-half turnovers in rout". http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=282710150. Retrieved 30 November 2008. 
  14. ^ "Tennessee Volunteers' search focused on David Cutcliffe, sources say". ESPN.com. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=4825513. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  15. ^ Glier, Ray (2010-01-15). "Cutcliffe will stay at Duke". New York Times. http://thequad.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/15/cutcliffe-will-stay-at-duke/. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  16. ^ "Cutcliffe staying at Duke". Durham Herald-Sun. http://www.heraldsun.com/pages/full_story/push?article-Cutcliffe+staying+at+Duke%20&id=5573696&instance=main_article. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  17. ^ "Cutcliffe's loyalty rewards Duke, ACC". ESPN.com. http://espn.go.com/blog/ncfnation/post/_/id/18177/cutcliffes-loyalty-rewards-duke-acc. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  18. ^ . http://www.goduke.com. 

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