"When I announced my decision to move in a different direction with our football program," said Alleva, "I clearly stated our criteria. We were looking for a leader who has head coaching experience, preferably at the Bowl Championship Subdivision (BCS) level; has directed a winning football program; has an outstanding offensive mind; has proven himself on the recruiting trail; will represent the University in an exemplary fashion, both on campus and in the Durham community, and understands that at Duke academic excellence goes hand-in-hand with excellence on the playing fields.
"We found that person in David Cutcliffe. Coach Cutcliffe is well-respected among his peers and his former players for his coaching knowledge and motivational skills. Coach Cutcliffe's values are well-aligned with the institutional values of Duke University. We believe we have found the right man to lead our football program to the excellence that is synonymous with Duke."
Cutcliffe, 53, comes to Duke after serving the past 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 1999-04 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.
"Duke is serious about restoring excitement and a winning tradition to Duke football," Duke President Richard H. Brodhead said. "David Cutcliffe's selection as our head coach shows Duke is committed to helping our players achieve the excellence we seek, both on and off the field. Coach Cutcliffe is a proven motivator and experienced leader, and I am delighted to welcome him to Duke. I'm also grateful to a superb search committee that worked with Joe Alleva and me to achieve this great result."
Cutcliffe has participated in 21 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 and 2007 Outback. He owns a 4-1 (.800) record as a head coach in bowl tilts with victories over Oklahoma, Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
As a member of the coaching staff at Tennessee from 1982-98, Cutcliffe helped the Volunteers to four Southeastern Conference 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, has gone 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 storied 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 number one choice in the 1998 NFL Draft, earned league MVP honors in both 2003 and 2004 and was named the Most Valuable Player 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 was honored with 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 Mississippi. Immediately taking the reigns, he coached Ole Miss in its 35-18 Independence Bowl win over Texas Tech to conclude the 1998 campaign.
While at Mississippi, 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. He 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. Over the past two years, Cutcliffe has helped the Volunteers to an 18-8 record with an appearance in the Outback Bowl following the 2006 campaign and an upcoming date in the same bowl on January 1, 2008. In 2007, Tennessee went 9-4 during the regular season with a 6-2 league mark en route to winning the SEC Eastern Division crown. In the SEC, Volunteer quarterback Erik Ainge ranks second in pass completion percentage (.630), passing yards (3,157) and passing touchdowns (29), and third in total offense (3,123) passing efficiency (134.64) and total points responsible (178). In addition, Tennessee wide receiver Lucas Taylor currently paces the conference in pass receiving yards (1,000) while guard Anthony Parker garnered first team All-SEC and second team All-America accolades in 2007.
With Cutcliffe at offensive coordinator, Tennessee has scored 30 or more points in 62 of 100 games, posting a 59-3 (.952) ledger in those contests. The Volunteers have compiled an overall record of 172-54-7 (.753) during his 19 seasons on staff. 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 Mississippi and Tennessee.
A native of Birmingham, Ala., Cutcliffe graduated from the University of Alabama in 1976. He got his start in the coaching profession 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 are the parents of four children — Chris, Katie, Emily and Marcus Hilliard, an adopted family member.