Cutcliffe, who coached the Ole Miss Rebels for seven years, accumulating a winning record in six of those years and earning bowl bids in five of those years before being released, will take over a program needing a new direction after posting just one win in the last two seasons.
In addition to his head coaching experience, Cutcliffe has coached NFL quarterbacks Heath Shuler, Peyton Manning, and Eli Manning. In 2003, the Rebels tied LSU for the West Division title and a win in the Cotton Bowl.
After his stint at Mississippi, Cutcliffe was hired as the quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame, but health problems forced him to resign. He was subsequently granted a clean bill of health before returning to the coaching ranks as a member Phil Fulmer's staff.
Currently Duke has nearly all the available recruiting spots filled for the class of 2008, which means Cutcliffe will most likely coach the Volunteers through their January 1st date in the Outback Bowl before assuming his full-time duties in the Yoh Center.
"If it does develop he'd certainly like to stay for the bowl game," Fulmer told the media during Friday's post practice session. "Which I appreciate and then we'll go from there."
Details of the contract are believed to include an annual salary approaching $1.5 million, with an improved allocation (over the previous staff) for a roster of assistant coaches.