Cutcliffe sad to see Roper go

The 14-year coaching relationship between David Cutcliffe and Kurt Roper will come to an end after the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Tuesday night. Cutcliffe has served as a mentor for Roper at Ole Miss, Tennessee and for the last six years at Duke, but on Wednesday, Roper will head to Gainesville for the beginning of a new challenge on his own at Florida.

The man who has watched Kurt Roper grow up in the coaching profession and as a man is proud of the new opportunity he'll have at Florida.

"Kurt and I've been together a long time and I'm very appreciative of all of his contributions whether it was at Tennessee, at Ole Miss and certainly here at Duke through the years," David Cutcliffe said. "It's been an enjoyable professional relationship and certainly a friendship as certainly I've watched Kurt get married. I've known Kurt most of his adult life.

"He's done a great job of being a very hard worker, very loyal and we wish him luck as he heads to Florida in a new direction for his career."

The interview processed happened fast. It was set up on Sunday for the next day, and Roper was in Gainesville early on Monday to spend time with Will Muschamp and other staff members. When the offer was made, it didn't take long for Roper to decide to make the move to Gainesville.

It was a tough situation for Cutcliffe. After working with and respecting Roper for 14 years, he didn't want to see him leave Duke. However, it was an opportunity to take a step up in the coaching world after being named one of the five finalists in 2013 for the Broyles Award, given to the nation's top assistant coach.

"I certainly want our coaches to go wherever their heart leads them and Kurt had a job he would have continued to have a job at Duke," Cutcliffe said. "I'm very pleased with what he's accomplished here as the offensive coordinator, but this is an opportunity for him somewhat to be out on his own, and I think he's looking forward to that."

Roper's demeanor on the practice field is what has made him a respected assistant. Cutcliffe praised his attention to detail and ability to prepare the offense for what they would see in the next opponent. Roper's experience has helped him learn how to prepare his offense and use practice time to the best of his ability.

His intensity on the practice field is also something that stands out to those that have spent time coaching with him.

"From the minute they hit the field, it's going to be intense," Cutcliffe said. "I wouldn't call him a laid-back football coach by any stretch of the imagination. It's going to be what we call treating the ground like a hot stove. If you hit the ground, you better get up running and by the time they get on the field until they get off, they're going to be moving and getting a bunch of quality reps. I would call it very intense."

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