College Football: Duke’s Cutcliffe not interested in Tennessee
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 5, 2008
DURHAM ó Duke coach David Cutcliffe quashed any speculation about him returning to Tennessee to replace his good friend and former boss, Phillip Fulmer.
“I’m at Duke, staying at Duke,” Cutcliffe said Tuesday.
Cutcliffe twice served on Tennessee’s staff and spent eight years as the Volunteers’ offensive coordinator. He came to Duke last December after a two-year stint in Knoxville and has called Fulmer “the best football coach I’ve ever been associated with.”
During a meetmng earlier in the day with his Duke players, Cutcliffe said he debunked rumors that named him as a potential candidate to replace Fulmer, who’s being forced out at season’s end after 17 years with the Volunteers.
“The extent of what he said was that it’s a nonfactor, and that we should focus on North Carolina State,” offensive lineman Fred Wilson said. “I don’t worry at all. The few short months that I’ve spent with coach Cutcliffe, I’ve learned to take him at his word. When he says something, he means it, and I wouldn’t dare question it.”
Cutcliffe’s 4-4 start is the best by a first-year Duke coach since Fred Goldsmith opened 8-4 in 1994. The Blue Devils haven’t been at .500 this late in a season since 1998, when they also were 4-4 before ending the year with three straight losses.
He said said he was being proactive “just to put an end to any speculation,” adding that he spoke to recruits who said other coaches had told them that “it’s a done deal” he was headed to the tolunteers.
“Certainly, prospects are being hit by it, people who we’re recruiting are being hit,” Cutcliffe said. “I tried to call as many of them as I can call just to settle it down. It’ll settle down quickly. If I’m recruiting against us, I’m going to use it, too. Those (rival coaches) were predictable. They did what I thought they would do.”