Duke lures away Cutcliffe

Offensive coordinator to remain with Vols through Outback Bowl

Tennessee offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe will become the new football coach at Duke and he will be introduced Saturday at a 5 p.m. news conference in Durham, N.C., the News Sentinel has learned.

A source in the Duke Athletic department said Friday an offer has been extended and accepted.

The fast-changing developments wrapped up a bizarre day in which Cutcliffe denied being offered the job Friday morning, a day after the News Sentinel reported that he was expected to leave the Vols.

Cutcliffe is expected to remain at UT through the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., against Wisconsin on Jan. 1. Cutcliffe will reportedly make between $1.2 and $1.5 million per season at Duke. He was scheduled to earn $340,000 this year. He would have earned $375,000 in the final year of a three-contract he signed in July that runs through June of 2010.

As he walked to the practice field on Friday afternoon, Cutcliffe still maintained that he hadn’t reached an agreement with Duke. UT’s practice ended at 6, with news leaking shortly thereafter that Cutcliffe had accepted the job.

“When you’ve got good people, people are going to want them,” UT coach Phillip Fulmer said. “That’s a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s the normal progression in any profession.”

Cutcliffe, who was coach at Ole Miss from 1999-2004, declined to speak specifically about the Duke job Friday, but the 53-year-old expressed his desire to lead a program again.

“If you’re ambitious, you’re always interested in that opportunity,” said Cutcliffe, who joined UT’s staff in 1982 and left for Ole Miss before the 1998 championship game against Florida State. “I liked it (being a head coach), and to say I didn’t like it would be a lie. We all kind of have the desire to run a program. That’s kind of why I got into it.

“Once I got into it, I decided that’s what I wanted. That really hasn’t changed. I’m still fairly young in this business. I just feel like there’s a lot left out there to be done.”

Cutcliffe’s success at Ole Miss was a strong reason why he was offered the Duke job. Ole Miss, like Duke, is perceived to have inferior financial support and facilities compared to its conference counterparts.

During his six seasons with the Rebels, Cutcliffe compiled a 44-29 record and coached Ole Miss to four bowl victories and one loss.

Since his return to UT following the 2005 season, Cutcliffe has been credited with resurrecting senior quarterback Erik Ainge’s career and instilling more discipline on and off the field.

Meanwhile, the search will begin for UT’s third offensive coordinator in just over two years. At least two staff members, offensive line coach Greg Adkins and receivers coach Trooper Taylor, are expected to receive consideration. Neither has been a coordinator.

Adkins has coached at UT since 2003. Sophomore offensive guard Anthony Parker said Adkins would provide a smooth transition.

“I don’t think it would be too much of a let off,” Parker said. “He’s been around long enough now where they (Adkins and Cutcliffe) would probably be close to similar as far as what we would get done here. I don’t think it would change at all.”

Parker went on to say that Adkins is ready for such a move.

“Is he hungry for it? Most definitely,” Parker exclaimed. “That’s what you coach for, to move up the ladder. If he gets that opportunity, I’d like to see what he could do.”

As for Taylor, he is scheduled to interview for the offensive coordinator position at Baylor early next week.

“Since I’ve been here, his knowledge of the game is just about as good as anybody’s, especially on offense,” tailback Arian Foster said. “He knows what he’s doing. I have complete trust in what he would call.”

Fulmer could also elect to hire from outside the current staff. He has even recently expressed interest in a spread-option attack, although a complete shift to that offense seems unlikely.

UT running backs coach Kurt Roper and tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator Matt Luke could follow Cutcliffe to Duke. They were members of Cutcliffe’s staff at Ole Miss and joined UT’s staff when Cutcliffe returned to Knoxville.

Luke and Roper signed two-year contracts in July. Those deals included a clause that would penalize an assistant six months’ base pay if he left UT for anything other than a coordinator or head coach position.

Luke earns $130,000 annually. Roper earns $150,000. Both are under contract until June of 2009.

Neither Roper nor Luke could be reached for comment Friday night.

Duke fired Ted Roof this month after the Blue Devils finished the season 1-11. In parts of five full seasons, he was 6-45 and 3-33 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

In a season chockfull of strange twists, Friday was almost typical.

“We’re pretty good at putting things from the outside away for the moment and just practicing and going to work,” Foster said.

Drew Edwards contributed to this report.

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Comments » 75

ColumbusVol writes:

no kidding?

how bout that.

dallasdog1 writes:

Good luck Coach!

andy112382#209793 writes:

Should be entertaining enough to see how things play out. Trooper Taylor, being such a great recruiter, is someone I'd hate to lose, and I do have trust in him to be calling the plays. I do not know enough about Adkins to judge one way or another on how good of an OC he could be, but between those two I say Trooper......it'll be interesting what we do, we have the players/athletes there to win big in the SEC, we just need to make sure to get the right person to use them to the fullest of their abilities. GO VOLS!!!

andy112382#209793 writes:

Oh, and yes, good luck to Cutcliffe!

justin35us#209705 writes:

Congrats!
Here's a name I haven't heard mentioned. He has a great resume and is unemployed as a coach. He wants a head coach job but I would think he would see this is a chance to redeem himself and get that job in a few years. Jim Fassel. Coached Elway at Stanford, coached in college and NFL. Noone is chasing him so why not offer? Longshot? Yes, but aren't we thinking outside of the box?

andy112382#209793 writes:

At least this is a much better position than our last OC change, we know we have the talent and just appeared in the SEC title game, much better than when we got Cutcliffe back when we were looking for someone to completely rebuild our offense that was a complete joke under you-know-who.

JohnsonCity_George writes:

I'm guessing KY is about to lose a QB coach......

VolFan_stuck_in_FL writes:

this is about to get interesting. Didn't Tee Martin say that he wanted to continue his coaching and maybe still play for TN in the new league. It's a win-win for Tee.

bshell12 writes:

I would love to see Tee as tenn QB's coach and let Troop step up into the OC position. But Trooper has to get that spot cause he is far to valuable!!!

john.appling#537971 writes:

Best Wishes to Coach Cutcliffe, Thanks for all you have done with the Tennessee Vols Football Program.....

vol4good#206163 writes:

I dont know who will be the best choice. I just know that change can be good. I can only hope that Fulmer will be patient before he acts.

KCSD writes:

I guess this means, look for DUKE in the National Championship game next year. Looks like somebody would be after Fat Phil since he's so great.

invisiblekid writes:

Looks like there were close to a million reasons for Cutcliffe to leave. Personally, despite what many on here think, I believe the Duke job has some upside besides the pay increase. A program with lower expectations will equate to less pressure to win. And let's not forget, Spurrier used Duke as a stepping stone to bigger things. He also gets to feed the ego in being the main man instead of getting second billing behind Fulmer. Finally, if Cutcliffe simply gets the Blue devils to a .500 team, it will likely open up many more opportunities for him. Best of luck to Cutcliffe, I believe the Vols will sorely miss him and Luke, who looks to be a protege of sorts. Complaints about the dink and dunk and some tendencies in play-calling aside, this could do some serious damage to recruiting. Fulmer better find some inspiration and make a wise choice in a replacement. I hear Sparky Woods is available LOL.

andy112382#209793 writes:

KCSD, that was the most pointless post I have read recently......amazes me how some people just thrive on waiting for moments to bad mouth Fulmer or whoever they can take a shot on.

invisiblekid writes:

Just my take, but I wouldn't be suprised to see Taylor go back to his alma mater and get the OC job at Baylor. I think his offensive philosophy may be a little too wide open for CPF. Adkins looks to be a better fit, although I think it would turn into another Randy Sanders situation, a dedicated assistant being thrown in over his head. Glad to hear Fulmer is interested in the spread option, I am sure it would come in handy 3 plays a game for the Vols. Hopefully, the "national coaching search" actually makes it out of Fulmer's office this time around.

BigOrangeJeeper writes:

To this point I dont know who would or would not be a good OC. To this point we have probably lost any and all recruiting momentum we might have had. Maybe we will get someone who is great and can lure some good players to UT.

bshell12 writes:

Think about this your a high school WR, RB, or QB and trooper comes to visit you wanting you to play for him. The first thing your gonna notice is his enthusiasm, then his strong values, and if he can prove he has knowledge on how to run an offense, Tennessee could be headed for great things!!!

FWBVol writes:

KCSD, if you had a clue, which it's obviously you don't, you would know that Phillip Fulmer has his dream job and other people know it. There is very little difference in pay and facilities between the top tier programs. UT has always had a commitment to have the best facilities in every sport from swimming and tennis to football, basketball and baseball. From time-to-time others might get a little ahead with the latest state of the art whatever, but given the time, UT always catches up.

As a UT alum, if I was a college head football coach, I wouldn't want to coach any place other than Tennessee. Phillip Fulmer has probably let other people know the same thing. I for one, am glad he's all Volunteer.

illstaygold writes:

Farewell Cut, I personally will not be missing dink and dunk. Glad you will go employ it at a place where it will be expected instead of a top tier program such as UT's.

TDTNVOLS writes:

I still can't get over how Coach Cut completely abandoned the run against Alabama in 2007 mid way through the 3rd Qtr. when were trailing by only 7 points and had averaged up until that point 7.5 yards per carry with Foster running it down their throat. They could not stop him. Instead we came up short in Cutcliff and Ainges passing game, and put our pathetic defense on the field for too long. If David Cutcliff had stuck with the run in that ball game, we would be playing in the Sugar Bowl with 10 wins instead of Georgia. I don't know much about football, but I know that much for sure. By the way, it's not that Cutcliff was that much better than Sanders, the issue has been Ainge all along... a great kid who I like a lot, but name the big games he has won________. Never underestimate the impact of the QB in college football.

cb4vols#206343 writes:

Cutcliff..gone. Trooper...probably gone. Parker, Foster, Colquitt,and Mayo...more than likely gone. Are they moving up or are they like rats leaving a sinking ship? The plot...she thickens.....

scvols writes:

Fulmer has coaches begging him for jobs, he will not have a problem filling any positions. Remember he hired Trooper, and there are more out there just like him. It does hurt recruiting and a bad year can hurt for one or two years, luckily Fulmer is a great recruiter.

azcardsfan40#258472 writes:

How about Jabba The Hut? Wait, he is already the HC.

nicksjuzunk#646117 writes:

What?? Fulmer would like to use the spread offense a bit. All the Fulmer hater and spread option lovers will still find someway to complain about this one.

OldNumber7 writes:

It's obvious. Just like what I-kid said earlier, it's no pressure to win and a heck of a pay increase. Good move. He's moving to a fantastic area, filling his pockets with cash, little to no pressure, and approaching a point where he will retire. Best of luck.

Now if Fulmer wants to save face, he better get a big name else recruiting will suffer. Also, you don't want guys with no experience going into the toughest league in football. This is where we find out if there really is any smart leadership in this program. Nepotism will kill UT Football; and moving guys up the chain so things will "not change" or stay the same is stupid. There are tons of brilliant minds that will jump their current ship for this job - that is provided UT isn't too lazy or open-minded to look!

nbt#658986 writes:

“When you’ve got good people, people are going to want them,” UT coach Phillip Fulmer said.

Notice that no other teams are ever trying to steal Fulmer away from us to be their head coach?

That says alot.

eb502us#225637 writes:

Rocketvol is right.....we need to search the globe for an offensive cooridinator that has fresh ideas, and isn't so easy to gameplan for. If we have to lose Trooper or Adkins over it, so be it, as one man is not bigger than the program. There are plenty of other great coaches and recruiters who would jump at the opportunity to coach at UT if we were to lose one or both. The thing that worries me most is the words Parker used "smooth transition" as there has been little that's been smooth at the OC position for years. This is no time for on the job training and Fulmer certainly doesn't seem to have that luxury given how lucky we got this year.

THE_VOL writes:

OH HAPPY DAY!!!! OH HAPPY DAYYYYYYY!!!! The end of FOOLmer draws ever nearer!! Taylor should go next and two of the fat one's three security blankets will be swept right out from under him. What's amazing is with all these job openings all over the country - the best these two "GREAT" coaches could get were Duke and Baylor????? THAT should tell the world something right there! And of course that genius Chavis hasn't even gotten a sniff! Gee wonder why????

vol88 writes:

Good luck Cut.

Let's go out and get a good OC.

james#216392 writes:

I think Cut leaving will help Fulmer stay at Tennessee if he is smart enough to go outside the Vol family and get an innovative coach. I also think Cut will do fine at Duke. Fine at Duke is 6-5. In fact that would be more than fine at Duke. I believe Cut can do that with in a couple years. 1.2 mil vs 345,000 is a good move whether you pass or fail.

IdahoVol writes:

Another brilliant comment by TDTN. Go back in your hole.

sstirrer writes:

What a twist: Just as former coach Cutcliffe happened to be around when a coaching vacancy occured, there is another former coach just moved back to town as this vacancy happens. "When Johnny comes marching home again, hoorah, hoorah......"

pdhuff#552644 writes:

errrr..."when you've got good people, people are going to want them". Don't believe I'd said that. Perchance wonder how many calls Hamilton has had inquiring about Phil. "Good people".

That said Phil will select a "comfortable fit (ala old shoes) and life will go on. Hope we don't slowly sink into the vein of Indiana-Minn-Ole miss-Vandy-NCST mire.

Merry Chrstmas all. Are we still playing the Badgers? No one seems to be interested......

threehundredbowler writes:

no one has tried to pull away a lot of long time coaches from other big name programs either.You guys are so mixed up in your little world of thinking that you can not see your nose.It will not make any difference whome Fulmer hires.Some of you will not like it and some will.I could just about name the a-- hole posters now that will call Fulmer an idiot and moron for bringing in whome ever he does choose.I bet one thing though,Fulmer will contact volcr and TDTN for their recomendation before he makes the hire.

volfan#207874 writes:

Right on why36knot! I too have been a follower of the Vols for over 60 years and yes, I do know how to turn on a computer. I also recognize the fact that you cannot please all the people all the time, and there are some who cannot be pleased with anything except
complete and total domination year to year, with championship trophies every single year. Get over it! It isn't going to happen. If touchdowntn and his
ilk are so unhappy, then they should transfer their "allegiance" to a program that does fit into their perception of a "perfect package" in
recruiting, coaching, and players. Oh
well, give them time and perhaps they will trade their binkies for understanding. Best of luck to coach
Cut as he moves to Duke.

wisonsinvol writes:

Interesting comments. How in the world do some of you folks know how Taylor would do as an OC? Because he's a good recruiter and has high energy on the side line? don't get me wrong, love the guy, but we loved Randy Sanders when he was coaching QB's and what did he do? This is Tennessee - people don't come after our headcoach because there isn't a better place to go. We shouldn't go the OC Trainee again. We should get a proven OC who has the results on his resume who is Taylor-esque. Trooper should take the OC job at Baylor if offered. It's a good move for him. Will we have trouble replacing him - maybe his personality but not a capable person. Remember this, Taylor's objective this year with receivers was to eliminate the dropped balls - how did he do? I know one thing, those freshmen sensations weren't ready to go until the end of the season. Again, I love Taylor and don't want to lose him, but we need to take off the orange colored glasses and quit the big time assumptions we are making based on sideline observations.

eduardo writes:

Adkins are you guys kidding? HeyF$$$$$$lmer how 'bout George Quarles in Maryville. Oh yeah, with those good coaches in Blount Co. you are the third best coach! Don't want to step out of your comfort zone!

TommyJack writes:

why36knot: You should be down to about 60 lbs. with all the puking you claim to be doing. :)
Eat a couple dozen man and pumpkin up!

shopsports#273141 writes:

Parker, Foster, Colquitt,and Mayo...more than likely gone.....that would NOT be good. But getting 5 new coaches if two more go with Cut...that is either a huge opportunity or the absolute end of the Fulmer era. I still say add a sixth in a QB coach. Is there a limit on the number of coaches? Surely if we replace six, we can get recruiters. Look at the blood letting of a recruting war that is about to happen anyway with what has gone on in the SEC west. We can only hope they get caught cheating while back stabbing each other and we steal some players in the meantime.

Volalumnus writes:

I find it funny and hypocritical that there is a group on here obsessed to make sure nothing criticle is said about these coaches and the job being done. Most of the time their method to protect the coaches is to attack others with opinions they dont agree with the very hate they accuse the others of. The second method is to complain they cant understand why the other group wastes so much time on these issues and are not enjoying life, but they are the ones here wasting their time attacking the group they don't like.

TommyJack writes:

SloFog: Cute. Take you pick, freak.

invisiblekid writes:

Agree with your points on Taylor WisconsinVol. Taylor may be a fine OC and he may not. I think a crucial question to be asked is just how much was Taylor involved in the week to week gameplans? My guess is not much, with Fulmer and Cutcliffe making most of the decisions. I also think that Cutcliffe has likely been working with Luke and grooming him as an OC candidate, so he probably had as much input as Taylor. I won't be a bit suprised to see Luke named as OC at Duke. Regardless of how it shakes out, I think the end result is going to be a big negative for the Vols.

invisiblekid writes:

TommyJack, you loser/hater LOL.

reece294#607091 writes:

Trooper, give him a chance

TommyJack writes:

Kid: Right you are! If you don't wear the blinders like old SloFog, you are indeed a loser/hater. A dozen glazed for my friend the Fog.

invisiblekid writes:

Absolutely TJ, besides no point arguing with a fence post.

dewaynemac32 writes:

Why not wait until this all plays out until all you haters begin to critisize fulmer's choice for OC. He is knowingly on the "hot seat" even with the extension and $ increase. If he is smart, he will realize that his choice will likely determine his future or lack thereof at UT. As a TRUE fan, I can only hope that his search is broad, and his choice is in the best interest of the program and not in the best interest of keeping assistants on the staff happy.

tigervol9802 writes:

We should have made them give us a home and home series in basketball to get him.

One thing that stuck out to me....

"He has even recently expressed interest in a spread-option attack, although a complete shift to that offense seems unlikely."

A bit of the spread in the offense?

TommyJack writes:

grvol & volalumnus: You 2 are loser/haters!! lol
A couple dozen lemon filleds to these 2 chaps, please. Stay the course and pound that freakin rock!

TommyJack writes:

dewaynemac: The TRUE fan. I love it....

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