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David Cutcliffe
Head Coach
Coach Info:
Position: Head Coach
Alma Mater: Alabama '76
Phone: (919) 684-2635

David Cutcliffe, the 2013 National Coach of the Year who has earned both ACC and SEC Coach of the Year honors in a distinguished career that includes the mentoring of Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, was named Duke University's 21st head football coach on December 15, 2007.
Cutcliffe is 67-72 (.482) in 11 seasons at Duke and owns an overall head coaching ledger of 111-101 (.524).  Cutcliffe’s 67 victories in 11 years with the Blue Devils are 57 more than the program’s total in the previous eight seasons (2000-07) combined and 48 more than the program’s total in the previous 11 seasons (1997-2007) combined. 

In addition to guiding the Blue Devil gridiron program, Cutcliffe serves on the American Football Coaches Association's Board of Trustees.

Duke’s return to prominence in college football has been spearheaded by Cutcliffe, who took over the program prior to the 2008 campaign after the Blue Devils had won just 10 total games in the previous eight seasons.  Cutcliffe’s vision has come together in the last seven years with 52 victories, six bowl appearances, three bowl championships and the 2013 ACC Coastal Division championship. 

Highlights from the last seven years include the program’s first bowl victory since 1961, three consecutive bowl victories for the first time in program history, a pair of NFL Draft first round picks in Laken Tomlinson (2014) and Daniel Jones (2019), an eight-game winning streak in 2013 (Duke’s longest since 1941), the program’s first appearance in the BCS standings in 2013 and in the College Football Playoff rankings in 2014 and final national rankings in both polls in 2013 (22nd by USA Today/Coaches & 23rd by Associated Press) to mark Duke’s first showing in a final poll since 1962.  Cutcliffe directed the 2013 Blue Devils to a school record four fourth-quarter victories as well as, for the first time since 1971, two wins over nationally-ranked opponents.  A year later, Cutcliffe had Duke as high as No. 19 in both the USA Today and Associated Press polls, its highest AP ranking since November 12, 1994.  Duke also won two or more games as a ranked team in consecutive years for the first time since the 1954-55 seasons.

Academically, Duke continues to pace the ACC in honors.  Over the past seven seasons (2012-18), the Blue Devils have produced as many Academic All-America selections — seven — as the remainder of the conference schools combined.  In addition, during the same time span, Duke earned 452 ACC Academic Honor Roll citations, more than twice as many as the next closest school, while also leading the league in Academic All-ACC selections, National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes, National Football Foundation Hampshire Society selections and ACC Jim Tatum Award recipients.  In 2014, David Helton became Duke’s first National Football Foundation William V. Campbell Trophy winner as the nation’s top college football student-athlete.

Cutcliffe remains an avid advocate of community service, and since his arrival at Durham, a total of nine Blue Devils have been named to the annual Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.  Recipients of the honor from Duke in the Cutcliffe Era include Re’quan Boyette (2008), Bryan Morgan (2010), Sean Renfree (2012), Dave Harding (2013), Tomlinson (2014), Kelby Brown (2015), DeVon Edwards (2016), Gabe Brandner (2017) and Johnathan Lloyd (2018).  Lloyd was also selected as the Freddie Solomon Community Spirit Award recipient in 2018.

Some of Cutcliffe’s finest work in the Bull City was conducted in 2018 as 15 Blue Devils with starting experience missed at least one game due to injury. Duke began the campaign with four consecutive wins, two of which were quarterbacked by Quentin Harris after Jones went down with a fractured clavicle in week two. The Blue Devils reached No. 22 in the Associated Press poll with their 4-0 start, returning to the rankings for the first time since October 25, 2015. Duke secured bowl eligibility with a 20-12 victory at Miami, marking the program’s first win in Miami since 1976. One week later, the Blue Devils downed North Carolina 42-35, marking Duke’s third consecutive win over its chief rival, a first for the program since 1987-89, and back-to-back home victories against the Tar Heels for the first time since 1951-53-55. Duke capped the year with a dominant second half en route to a 56-27 victory against Temple in the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl, earning a third consecutive bowl title, a first for the program. 

Cutcliffe’s mentorship of former quarterback Jones led him to being the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. Jones, a 6-5, 220-pound native of Charlotte, N.C., became the highest Blue Devil draft pick since Mike Junkin went fifth overall to the Cleveland Browns in 1987, and just the seventh Duke player to be selected in the opening round of the draft. 

The 2017 campaign displayed an unparalleled level of resiliency as the Blue Devils, after winning the first four games of the year, endured a six-game losing streak.  Needing wins in the final pair of regular season games to reach bowl eligibility, Duke used a balanced offensive attack and dominating second-half defense to post victories over Georgia Tech and Wake Forest to conclude the year.  The Blue Devils then responded to postseason play with a resounding 36-14 win over Northern Illinois in the Quick Lane Bowl to give Duke its second set of consecutive bowl victories in the history of the program.

In 2016, the Blue Devils earned a road win at Notre Dame and with their 28-27 triumph over No. 15 North Carolina in front of a national television audience on ESPN, defeated a nationally-ranked opponent for the fourth consecutive campaign.  Other season highlights included Jones setting or matching 23 school records en route to finishing second in the balloting for ACC Rookie of the Year, A.J. Wolf becoming just the second multi-year first team Academic All-America in school history and a league-best 14 selections to the Academic All-ACC team.

Cutcliffe’s 2015 squad continued the elevation of the program as it captured eight wins, marking the first time in school history the Blue Devils posted three consecutive seasons with eight-plus victories.  In addition, the season capped the most successful three-year stretch in Duke history with 27 total wins while the Blue Devils earned a berth in an unprecedented fourth straight bowl game, defeating Indiana, 44-41 in overtime, in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

Under Cutcliffe’s guidance in 2015, Jeremy Cash became the first player in Duke history to earn first, second or third team All-America honors in three seasons (2013-14-15).  A finalist for the Nagurski Trophy, an honor presented each year to the nation’s top defensive player, Cash also became Duke’s fourth straight recipient of the Jim Tatum Award, an annual honor for the ACC’s top senior scholar-athlete for football.

In 2014, Cutcliffe was honored as the AFCA’s Region I Coach of the Year after guiding the Blue Devils to a 9-4 campaign and appearance in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.  In addition, wide receiver Jamison Crowder finished his career in 2014 with 283 receptions, tied with former Blue Devil wideout Conner Vernon (2009-12/283) for the Duke and ACC career records.  A fourth round pick of the Washington Redskins in the 2015 NFL Draft, Crowder also capped his career with the second most receiving yards in program history (3,641 — third most in the ACC) and joined Clarkston Hines (1987-88-89) as the only ACC players with three 1,000-yard seasons.  Another record breaker in 2014 under Cutcliffe’s tutoring was quarterback Anthony Boone, who won 19 games as a starter for the most victories by a Duke signal caller in program history. 

In 2013, Cutcliffe guided the Blue Devils to a school record 10 wins, including the ACC Coastal Division championship and an appearance in the 46th annual Chick-fil-A Bowl where Duke’s matchup with Texas A&M registered nearly nine million viewers to rank as ESPN’s most-watched non-BCS bowl game.  For his efforts, Cutcliffe was named the National Coach of the Year by five outlets — American Football Coaches Association, Bobby Dodd Foundation, Maxwell Football Club, Sporting News and Walter Camp Foundation — while earning his second consecutive ACC Coach of the Year citation.

Cutcliffe’s 2013 squad featured three All-America selections — Cash, Crowder and kickoff returner DeVon Edwards — as well as a school-record 11 All-ACC picks.  A perfect November record of 4-0 included wins over N.C. State, Miami, Wake Forest and North Carolina and propelled the Blue Devils to the Dr Pepper ACC Championship Game for the first time in school history.  In addition, Duke enjoyed a perfect 5-0 record on the road — the program’s best mark since 1962 — and won four-plus home games and four-plus away games in a season for just the third time in school history, joining the 1939 and 1941 teams, all after being a consensus last place projection in the conference standings.

Duke’s 2013 club became the first ACC squad to lose its first two conference games and win the division championship.  Other highlights included a league-high 21 selections to the Academic All-ACC team, numerous school records including most points and total offensive yards and cornerback Ross Cockrell being selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills.

In 2012, Cutcliffe was named the ACC Coach of the Year after leading the Blue Devils to the program’s first bowl game appearance since 1994.  Duke enjoyed the year with nine players earning All-ACC recognition including first team selections Cockrell, punter Will Monday and Vernon.  

In addition, quarterback Sean Renfree, who threw for over 3,000 yards for the second time in his career, achieved numerous post-season accolades including the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award, the Pop Warner National College Football Award and the ACC’s Jim Tatum Award while earning a spot on the prestigious AFCA Good Works Team.  Renfree went on to be a seventh round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Cutcliffe’s innovative offensive scheme was again put on display during the 2012 season as the Blue Devils scored a then school single-season record 410 points and became just the second team in ACC history to boast two receivers — Vernon and Crowder — with at least 1,000 receiving yards apiece.  The Crowder-Vernon combination established a conference record for most combined receptions (161) while becoming the first duo in league history to post 75 or more receptions each.

Vernon closed his career as the ACC’s all-time leader in both pass receptions (283) and receiving yards (3,749) while Crowder etched his name into the NCAA record book with a 99-yard touchdown reception from Renfree against Miami. 

The 2011 season – Cutcliffe’s fourth in Durham – featured outstanding play from safety Matt Daniels, a first team All-ACC and second team All-America selection who represented Duke in the annual East-West Shrine Game.  The Fayetteville, Ga., native posted 128 tackles, 14 pass breakups and two interceptions in his final year.  Following the campaign, Duke had a then ACC-record 19 players named to the league’s academic all-conference squad.  The Blue Devils broke the record a year later in 2012 with 20 selections.

In 2010, the Blue Devil offense produced an average of 381.3 yards per game — Duke’s highest total since 1989 — as Renfree became just the fourth player in school history to throw for over 3,000 yards.  In addition, kicker Will Snyderwine was a first team All-America honoree after booting a then school single-season record 21 field goals and compiling 95 points to post the then second-highest single-season total in Duke history.  

Cutcliffe’s second campaign at Duke — 2009 — yielded a 5-7 ledger to give the program its most wins in a season since 1994.  Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, a two-time All-ACC selection who started the regular season finale for the Cleveland Browns in 2012 before throwing for 1,092 yards for the Buffalo Bills in 2013, led the conference in passing after throwing for 3,330 yards and 20 touchdowns against just eight interceptions.  Lewis concluded his career with 10,065 yards to rank first at Duke and second in ACC history in passing yardage.

In 2008, Cutcliffe led the Blue Devils to four victories — matching the school’s win total from the previous four seasons combined.

Duke’s fan support also has increased since Cutcliffe took the helm of the gridiron program.  In his first season, Duke set a school single-season record with four home crowds of 30,000 or more spectators.  Twenty-eight of Duke’s 73 home dates in the Cutcliffe Era have reached 30,000 fans — compared to just four of the previous 47 home games prior to his arrival.  In 2010, Duke established a school record for attendance with 201,248 total spectators at Wallace Wade Stadium.

Cutcliffe, born September 16, 1954, came to Duke after serving the previous two seasons as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee. His head coaching experience includes a six-year stint at the University of Mississippi from 1999-2004 where he compiled a 44-29 (.603) ledger with five winning seasons, five bowl game appearances and a share of the SEC Western Division championship in 2003. Cutcliffe was named the SEC Coach of the Year in 2003 after leading the Rebels to a 10-3 record including a 31-28 victory over Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.

Cutcliffe has participated in 28 bowl games including the 1982 Peach, 1983 Florida Citrus, 1984 Sun, 1986 Sugar, 1986 Liberty, 1988 Peach, 1990 Cotton, 1991 Sugar, 1992 Fiesta, 1993 Hall of Fame, 1994 Florida Citrus, 1994 Gator, 1996 Florida Citrus, 1997 Florida Citrus, 1998 Orange, 1998 Independence, 1999 Independence, 2000 Music City, 2002 Independence, 2004 Cotton, 2007 Outback, 2008 Outback, 2012 Belk, 2013 Chick-fil-A, 2014 Hyundai Sun, 2015 New Era Pinstripe, 2017 Quick Lane and 2018 Walk-On’s Independence. He owns a 7-4 record as a head coach in bowl tilts with wins over Oklahoma, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Indiana, Northern Illinois and Temple.

As a member of the coaching staff at Tennessee from 1982-98, Cutcliffe helped the Volunteers to five SEC championships, 16 bowl games in 17 seasons and the national title in 1998. His first tenure with the Vols featured the mentoring of quarterbacks Andy Kelly, Heath Shuler, Tee Martin and Peyton Manning.

Kelly, who played at Tennessee from 1988-91 and graduated atop the school’s career passing chart, went on to become the Arena Football League’s career leader in pass completions, pass attempts, passing yards and touchdown passes. Shuler, a first team All-America choice in 1993 after throwing for 2,353 yards and a then school-record 25 touchdowns, was the third overall pick by the Washington Redskins in the 1994 NFL Draft. In November of 2006, Shuler was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina’s 11th congressional district.

By throwing for 19 touchdowns against just six interceptions, Martin directed the Volunteer offense in 1998 as Tennessee went 13-0 and captured the SEC and national championships. Peyton Manning’s career concluded in 1997 when the signal-caller threw for 3,819 yards and 36 touchdowns while earning first team All-America honors as well as the Maxwell Award, presented annually to the nation’s top player. Peyton Manning was the top pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, earned league MVP honors in 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2009 and was named the MVP of Super Bowl XLI as his Indianapolis Colts defeated the Chicago Bears, 25-17, on February 4, 2007.

In 1997, the Tennessee offensive unit established school single-season standards for first downs (300), pass completions (296), pass attempts (492), passing yards (3,981), passing touchdowns (37) and total offense (5,794) as the Volunteers went 11-2 and defeated Auburn, 30-29, in the SEC championship game.

In 1998, Cutcliffe received the Frank Broyles Award, an honor given annually to the top assistant coach in the country. During Cutcliffe’s tenure as offensive coordinator from 1993-98, Tennessee enjoyed four 1,000-yard rushers in Charlie Garner (1,161 in 1993), James Stewart (1,028 in 1994), Jay Graham (1,438 in 1995) and Jamal Lewis (1,364 in 1997). Stewart (19th overall pick by Jacksonville in 1995) and Lewis (5th overall pick by Baltimore in 2000) went on to be first round selections in the NFL Draft.

On December 2, 1998, Cutcliffe was named the head coach at Ole Miss and coached the Rebels in their 35-18 Independence Bowl win over Texas Tech to conclude the 1998 campaign.

While at Ole Miss, Cutcliffe tutored 2003 SEC Player of the Year Eli Manning. Manning was a first team All-America pick as a senior, closed his career with an SEC-record 10,119 passing yards and was the top overall choice in the 2004 NFL Draft.  In his fourth professional season, he guided the New York Giants to the Super Bowl and earned MVP honors after throwing for 255 yards and two touchdowns in a 17-14 win over the New England Patriots on February 3, 2008.  

Cutcliffe also coached three-time All-SEC running back Deuce McAllister, who set Rebel career records for rushing yards (3,060) and rushing touchdowns (37) and was a first round selection of the New Orleans Saints in the 2001 NFL Draft. 

Cutcliffe’s recruiting efforts at Ole Miss produced three national award winners in Eli Manning (2003; Maxwell Award), Jon Nichols (2003; Lou Groza Award presented annually to the top kicker in the nation) and Patrick Willis (2006; Butkus Award presented annually to the top linebacker in the country). During his six seasons at the helm of the Rebel program, Mississippi set school single-season records for total offense, passing offense and scoring offense while winning twice at both Auburn and LSU, securing consecutive victories over Florida, and defeating both Arkansas and South Carolina on three occasions.

In the spring of 2005, Cutcliffe joined the coaching staff at Notre Dame, but resigned from the post for health reasons. He then returned to Knoxville prior to the 2006 season. Cutcliffe helped the Volunteers to a 19-8 record from 2006-07 with two appearances in the Outback Bowl. In 2007, Tennessee went 10-4 with a 6-2 league mark en route to winning the SEC Eastern Division crown. The Tennessee offense allowed an NCAA-low four sacks on the year, and quarterback Erik Ainge earned MVP honors of the Outback Bowl after throwing for 365 yards and two touchdowns as the Volunteers defeated Wisconsin, 21-17. Tennessee running back Arian Foster rushed for 1,193 yards on the year while wide receiver Lucas Taylor reached the 1,000-yard plateau for receiving yards.  In addition, offensive guard Anthony Parker garnered second team All-America accolades.

With Cutcliffe at offensive coordinator, Tennessee scored 30 or more points in 62 of 100 games, posting a 59-3 (.952) ledger in those contests. The Volunteers compiled an overall record of 173-54-7 (.754) during his 19 seasons. Cutcliffe is the only coach in SEC history to have two quarterbacks throw for over 10,000 career yards while his offenses produced the all-time leading passers, rushers and receivers at both Ole Miss and Tennessee.

Cutcliffe’s coaching tenure as both an assistant and head coach features five quarterbacks that have surpassed the 3,000-yard barrier in a single season: Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1996 & 1997), Eli Manning (Ole Miss, 2002 & 2003), Ainge (Tennessee, 2007), Lewis (Duke, 2009) and Renfree (Duke, 2010).  In addition, 11 of Cutcliffe’s signal-calling pupils have either earned all-conference honors or led their respective team to a bowl game victory.

A native of Birmingham, Ala., Cutcliffe graduated from the University of Alabama in 1976 and is a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2016 and Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019. He got his start in coaching at Banks High School — his alma mater — and spent four years as an assistant coach before becoming the head coach in 1980.

Cutcliffe is married to the former Karen Oran of Harriman, Tenn., and they have four children (Chris, Marcus Hilliard, Katie [Kolls] & Emily), two daughters-in-law (Molly Cutcliffe & India Hilliard), one son-in-law (Chris Kolls) and six grandsons (Shivers, Bennett, Oliver, Campbell, Theodore & Cooper).

David Cutcliffe's Coaching Career (1982-Present)
Year School Position Record Notes
1982 Tennessee Part Time Assistant Coach 6-5 Peach Bowl participant
1983 Tennessee Assistant Coach/TEs 9-3 Florida Citrus Bowl champion
1984 Tennessee Assistant Coach/TEs 7-4 Sun Bowl participant
1985 Tennessee Assistant Coach/TEs 9-1

SEC Champions
Sugar Bowl champion

1986 Tennessee Assistant Coach/TEs 7-5 Liberty Bowl champion
1987 Tennessee Assistant Coach/TEs 10-2 Peach Bowl champion
1988 Tennessee Assistant Coach/TEs 5-6  
1989 Tennessee Assistant Coach/RBs 11-1

SEC Champions
Cotton Bowl champion

1990 Tennessee Assistant Coach/QBs 9-2 SEC Champions
Sugar Bowl champion
1991 Tennessee Assistant Coach/QBs 9-3

Fiesta Bowl participant
QB Andy Kelly: Led Tennessee to 24-5-2 record as starting QB

1992 Tennessee Passing Game Coordinator/QBs 9-3 Hall of Fame Bowl champion
1993 Tennessee Offensive Coordinator/QBs 10-2 Florida Citrus Bowl participant
QB Heath Shuler: SEC Player of the Year; No. 3 overall pick in NFL Draft
1994 Tennessee Offensive Coordinator/QBs 8-4 Gator Bowl champion
1995 Tennessee Asst. Head Coach/Off. Coordinator/QBs 11-1 Florida Citrus Bowl champion
1996 Tennessee Asst. Head Coach/Off. Coordinator/QBs 10-2 Florida Citrus Bowl champion
1997 Tennessee Asst. Head Coach/Off. Coordinator/QBs 11-2 SEC Champions
Orange Bowl participant
QB Peyton Manning: Heisman Trophy finalist; SEC Player of the Year; No. 1 overall pick in NFL Draft
1998 Tennessee Asst. Head Coach/Off. Coordinator/QBs 13-0 National Champion
SEC Champion
Frank Broyles Award recipient
QB Tee Martin: Set NCAA record for consecutive pass completions
1998 Mississippi Head Coach 1-1 Independence Bowl champion
1999 Mississippi Head Coach 8-4 Independence Bowl champion
2000 Mississippi Head Coach 7-5 Music City Bowl participant
2001 Mississippi Head Coach 7-4  
2002 Mississippi Head Coach 7-6 Independence Bowl champion
2003 Mississippi Head Coach 10-3 SEC Western Division Co-Champions
Cotton Bowl champion
SEC Coach of the Year
QB Eli Manning: SEC Player of the Year; No. 1 overall pick in NFL Draft
2004 Mississippi Head Coach 4-7  
2006 Tennessee Asst. Head Coach/Off. Coordinator/QBs 9-4 Outback Bowl participant
2007 Tennessee Asst. Head Coach/Off. Coordinator/QBs 10-4 SEC Eastern Division Co-Champions
SEC Championship Game participant
Outback Bowl Champion
2008 Duke Head Coach 4-8 Nation's 2nd-most difficult schedule
2009 Duke Head Coach 5-7 3 ACC wins -- Duke's most since 1999
QB Thaddeus Lewis: 2nd ACC QB to throw for 10,000+ yards
2010 Duke Head Coach 3-9 Highest offensive yards per game avg. since 1989
2011 Duke Head Coach 3-9 2nd in ACC in passing
Most rushing TDs since 1995
2012 Duke Head Coach 6-7 Belk Bowl participant
ACC Coach of the Year
QB Sean Renfree: Duke's pass completion % leader; NFL Draft pick of Atlanta Falcons
2013 Duke Head Coach 10-4

ACC Coastal Division champion
ACC Championship game participant
Chick-fil-A Bowl participant
School record 10 wins
National Coach of the Year (Bobby Dodd Foundation, Walter Camp Foundation, Maxwell Football Club, Sporting News & AFCA)
ACC Coach of the Year

2014 Duke Head Coach 9-4 Hyundai Sun Bowl participant
AFCA Region I Coach of the Year
QB Anthony Boone: All-ACC; Duke record 19 wins as starting
QB LB David Helton: NFF Campbell Trophy recipient as the nation's top student-athlete
OT Laken Tomlinson: 1st team All-America; ACC Male Athlete of the Year; NFL 1st round draft pick
2015 Duke Head Coach 8-5

New Era Pinstripe Bowl champion
First Duke offense to average 190+ rushing & 240+ passing yards
S Jeremy Cash: Unanimous 1st team All-America; ACC Defensive Player of the Year

2016 Duke Head Coach 4-8

ACC-high 14 academic all-league picks
Victory over nationally-ranked opponent for 4th straight season
DT A.J. Wolf: 2nd mulit-year 1st team Academic All-America in school history

2017 Duke Head Coach 7-6

Quick Lane Bowl champion
LB Joe Giles-Harris: 2nd team All-America
QB Daniel Jones: Quick Lane Bowl MVP

2018 Duke Head Coach 8-5
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl champion
QB Daniel Jones: Walk-On’s Independence Bowl Offensive MVP; NFL 1st round draft pick
Record as assistant coach at Tennessee (19 seasons): 173-54-7 (.754)
Record as head coach at Ole Miss (6+ seasons): 44-29 (.603)
Record as head coach at Duke (11 seasons): 67-72 (.482)