This is the sixth in a series of Duke’s All-Decade teams, as named by various Chronicle writers, past and present. At the end of the series, you will be able to vote for your own All-Decade team, and your votes will determine The Sports Blog’s final choice. Stay tuned over the next two weeks for more All-Decade choices.
5. The Hire, Part Two
After the departure of Steve Spurrier, Duke Football went from toiling in mediocrity to becoming a national joke. A 23-game losing streak from 1999-2001 (excluded from this list because part of it occurred outside of the Aughts) cemented Duke’s status as the worst team in Division I football. Joe Alleva’s hiring of Ted Roof did nothing to help.
Then came the savior from the southeast, a straight-talking coach straight out of a Matt Christopher novel, who claimed that Duke Football would be playing in bowl games before long. His name was David Cutcliffe. He had coached both the Manning brothers. He represented, along with number nine on the list, a total shift in the culture of Duke athletics.
“I’ve always thought that any respectable college should have a good football team,” Cutcliffe told me earlier this year. So far, he’s made sure that Duke University could be known as that “respectable college,” leading the Blue Devils to four wins in 2008 and five in 2009. Without the loss to Richmond and a couple of missed breaks in 2009, Duke, the national joke, would have been playing in a bowl.
So far, it looks like Cutcliffe’s hiring is a story in progress– subject to moving up several spots on the list in a few years if the Blue Devils keep improving. Of course, this story would never be possible without number six on the list.
4. The Redeem Team
USA Basketball was embarrassed at the 2004 Olympics, coming home without the gold for the first time since pros weren’t allowed to play. To top it off, the 2004 team was widely perceived as selfish and uncaring. It was not totally true, but that’s certainly how people thought.
Coach K to totally changed the culture of the Olympic team, transforming a group of exceedingly well-paid alpha males into a cohesive group of unselfish team-oriented players. (It didn’t hurt that he had Kobe, Lebron, and Dwyane to play for him.) The image of K with the gold medals draped around his neck will always be available for Duke recruiting, as well the numerous testimonies from the super-duper all stars K coached.
Now, he gets set to coach again in 2012. Time will tell if it’s as well-received as last year.