More on David Cutcliffe
Duke University head football coach David Cutcliffe is assembling a coaching staff in anticipation of becoming the head coach at the University of Tennessee, a source close to the negotiations told the News Sentinel late Thursday.
When asked about Cutcliffe, UT athletic director Mike Hamilton said via text message that the university was still in the interviewing phase of the process and that no offer had been made to anyone.
Although Cutcliffe is assembling a staff, the deal has not been finalized. An agreement could be reached as early as today, but Cutcliffe, 55, has let loyalty to his assistants affect his career decisions in the past.
Cutcliffe, who has a career record of 53-44 in eight seasons, was fired by Ole Miss in 2004 after he refused to replace some of the coaches on his staff.
The Vols still have six coaches left over from the staff assembled by Lane Kiffin, who resigned Tuesday to become coach at the University of Southern California.
Cutcliffe’s projected staff would include Kurt Roper, who has been his offensive coordinator at Duke. Roper coached running backs at UT when Cutcliffe was offensive coordinator under then-head coach Phillip Fulmer.
Offensive line coach Matt Luke also is a strong candidate to join UT’s staff. Luke was an assistant offensive line/tight ends coach and served as recruiting coordinator during his two seasons at UT.
UT interim head coach Kippy Brown likely would have the option to remain at UT. Hamilton said Brown is a candidate for UT’s vacancy, but Brown seemed open to working under Cutcliffe when contacted Thursday.
“I love David,” said Brown, who worked with Cutcliffe on UT’s staff in 1993-94. “David is a good coach.”
UT would owe two seasons of pay to any coach it fired if that coach didn’t secure employment elsewhere. Brown would be owed three seasons of pay if he’s not retained.
Besides Brown, offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, offensive line coach James Cregg, quarterbacks coach David Reaves, linebackers coach Lance Thompson and defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza remain on staff.
Fulmer released a statement earlier in the day that called for UT to hire a coach who displays integrity and embraces the university’s traditions.
Fulmer, who coached with Cutcliffe at UT, told the News Sentinel he would endorse Cutcliffe’s hiring.
“He’s the kind of person I described earlier in my release,” Fulmer said Thursday evening. “The type of person and coach that I thought the team needed, and he fits those parameters to a tee.”
Meanwhile, Duke would not acknowledge Cutcliffe was leaving Thursday.
“Given his history, David Cutcliffe doesn’t need to interview for the job at Tennessee,” Duke sports information director Art Chase told The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. “He did that for 19 years.”
Cutcliffe received much of the credit with returning UT’s offense to respectability during his second stint with the Vols.
In 2006 and 2007, Cutcliffe helped the Vols to a 19-8 record and two Outback Bowl appearances after the Vols finished 5-6 in 2005.
In 2007, Tennessee went 10-4 and 6-2 in the SEC and won the SEC Eastern Division title.
Cutcliffe helped Eric Ainge transform from a struggling quarterback who was benched in 2005 to a solid passer, who threw for 6,511 yards and 50 touchdowns in two seasons.
It is Cutcliffe’s work with
two other quarterbacks that
has drawn him national acclaim. He helped Peyton Manning to
an All-American career at UT from 1994-97, then did the
same for younger brother Eli Manning at Ole Miss from
Both were Heisman Trophy finalists and selected with the first pick in the NFL draft.
At Ole Miss, Cutcliffe’s only losing season was his last. The Rebels finished 4-7 in 2004, and he was replaced by former UT assistant Ed Orgeron, who was fired after three seasons and a 10-25 record.
Cutcliffe is married to the former Karen Oran of Harriman. They have four children.
Austin Ward contributed to this report.