Coach Cut, Wally & “The Gang”

May22/ 2008

When newspapers “mattered”, they referred to the Sports Dept as “the toy store”.  It was where readers went to get away from the grisly stuff that actually affects our lives.  Now pretty much everything is yucky, but sports still matters less than the REALLY grisly stuff.   With that in mind let’s discuss DUKE FOOTBALL ….. I like David Cutcliffe and Kevin White but so what ?

Although I supported Leo Hart for Duke AD, I think Kevin White is an excellent choice.  I’ve polled my AD pals around the country and if he has skeletons in his closet they are not of the ROT IN HELL variety.  Being AD at Notre Dame gets one vetted pretty well.  If Kevin had a gay leprechaun lover we would know about it. (and UNC woulda probably hired him instead!)

Kevin White is used to being blasphemed and excoriated by anonymous nitwits on the Internet.  All of us who are in the bizness of provoking various segments of the great unwashed have traveled the road of being called all the dirty scary names and threatened by the pitiful inhabitants of society’s root cellar.  The first dozen times you blink and say “wow” and buy a stronger deadbolt lock for your home and office.  Then you either get certified for a permit to carry and make the “revolver or automatic” decision.  (go with revolver …. less likely to jam at an inopportune time!) …. or you hire a retired homicide detective with a well-tuned “funny feeling” instinct. 

Kevin will not need such protection at Duke ….. UNLESS he really pisses off The Gang of 88 which is easy to do.  (or if he ever intends to walk around Derm!)  “The Gang” has been dormant for a while but don’t confuse dormant with dead.  A wolfbane necklace and a set of rosary beads could serve Kevin (and Dave) well down the road.  Rosemary’s Other Baby (ROB), secure in his Cameron tower suite, has the Forces of Darkness at his command should “The Gang” ever come his way.

Duke Football will show almost immediate on-field improvement under Dave Cutcliffe. What I am not sure of is “Who Cares?” or “cares enough to pay to see it”.

   I have not mentioned “the boards” lately.  Discussing “politics” is disgusting enough without going backstage with the pathetic souls of board monkey world.  If you still check the local sports message boards regularly along with “”, “” and HuffingtonPost … I hope you got your tetanus booster and replace your mouse when it starts to grow warts.  

   The venomous loons of board monkey world – UNC & NCSU chapters – will rant that “Dook” will always lose because “_____” and then use the words “Jew”, New Jersey, ugly coeds, and “JJ was gay”.  Somehow make a passing reference to Cherokee Parks and Henderson’s deadly elbow.  If you don’t see the connection of any of these to Dave Cutcliffe then you are capable of rational thought.  Read on …

David Cutcliffe has “been there done that” in big time football.  He has taken teams into steaming cauldrons of Tuscaloosa, Gainesville, Starkville, Baton Rouge and Toomer’s Corner.  He has had 100,000 Rocky Toppers sing his praise and cuss his mamma.  He has trained TWO Mannings.  

Do ya really think he’s going to get sweaty palms at the sight of Wolf Mountain @ The Fairgrounds or a bunch of pine trees in Chapel Hill?  He won’t.

Cutcliffe has assembled a solid staff of “football guys” who know Xs and Os and know him.  I think he is very aware of “what he got himself into”.  Only one element can stop David Cutcliffe from developing a very competitive collegiate football program at Duke over the next 4-5 years.  That element is, of course, Duke itself.

College administrators and Board of Trustees, in general, are not much attuned to the real world ….. especially so “at Duke”.  Richard Brodhead showed his executive mettle (and his rear end) to a global audience in Cirque de Nifong.  No one screws up THAT BAD on dumb luck.  That level of poor judgement takes years of training.  As for Duke’s BOTs …. They make Marie Antoinette look like Mother Teresa.  Those ditzy dilettantes assume “everyone has an eight figure trust fund” don’t they.

   Lets assume that Dave wins a few early on and is competitive in most others …. and “a buzz” starts around West Derm.  That “buzz” will awaken “The Gang”.  “The Gang” is simply afraid of ROB but Dave does not carry that fearsome persona .  $$$$ will be spent at Wally Wade and there will be chatter about actually going to “a football game”.  “The Gang” will attack in their reptilian fashion …. claws, fangs, pots and pans, self-righteous indignation and assorted hissy fits as is their wont to do.  Kevin and Dave will have to “man up” supplying Richard Brodhead with the spine that he lacked back in March 2006. 

If “The Gang” gets even a single claw in the football program they will destroy it.   Destroying every thing positive, good and capable of generating smiles is The Gang’s raison d’être.

Moving on …. Both UNC and NCSU are now “serious” about Football.  Some might say UNC is “too serious”.  We shall see what we shall see.  NCSU is making less noise under TO’B than his bloviating predecessor but 55,000 at Carter and Kenan is still assured.   Both UNC and NCSU sell more season tickets than the capacity of The Wally.  We’ll call them “sleeping giants” because it is a rule that one has to in any  such discussion.    Duke Football is a “narcoplectic dwarf” in a coma since Watergate. 

Where will new Duke Football fans come from?  Let’s assume Dave has a high-flying passing offense that keeps the scoreboard spinning.  He WILL get and develop fine QBs.  That is a given.  Offensive linemen tend to be semi-serious students relatively speaking to the average knuckle-dragging thug-alete. The next generation of “Mannings” will have 3-4 seconds to operate.  So Dave just needs a few WRs to sneak pass the Admissions guys.  WRs aren’t the felonious ticking time bombs of hyper-aggression that DL and LBs tend to be.  

 Duke will NEVER have a shut-down defense because that requires really really scary “student-athletes” that can hold their own among Derm’s infamous gangbanger boyz.  Dave’s Duke teams will score A LOT and hope the other team fumbles a lot.

Duke will always have a depth issue so Ws in September will come easier than in November when crutches will usually outnumber facemasks.  That will be in UNC’s favor. 

Duke’s marketing guys will have to focus on “undocumented immigrants” within a 50 mile radius …. aka “Cary people” and their incoming ilk who don’t know Choo Choo or Roman or a Zigga from a Zoomba or a Murphy from a Kenan.  

Duke will never have enough alums in this area to matter.  To attract warm bodies to The Wally means luring “the unaffiliated” by offering an enjoyable experience.  

Slapping on some paint and decent restrooms at Wally Wade is the equivalent to putting a toe ring on a fat girl.  She’s still a fat girl …. just wearing a silly toe ring.  Wally needs a 99% complete re-do (think bulldozers and jackhammers!) ….. six months at a Swiss Spa with a bevy of personal trainers and the best cosmetic surgeons on the Planet.   

   Kevin is already saying “get rid of the track” (YES!) and discussing REALLY bringing that mausoleum kicking and screaming into the 1980s at least.  Get the fans within the same zip code as the playing field.  Do something to energize a Wally’s Crazies where the original creative spirit of the C-Crazies moves outdoors.  The current C-crazies are just geeks and freaks yelling dirty words with no originality.

    It will take more than a few inflatables, a fried dough stand and a sign saying “we once hosted the Rose Bowl before you were born” to give The Wally a pulse.

    The primary threat to The Cutcliffe Era (and to America!) will come from within.  David will beat Butch and TO’B 2 out of 5 (but not 3 out of 5!) just on his coaching acumen and a potent offense.  Beating “The Gang” and “Wally” may prove tougher. 


   Chad Holbrook IS leaving Mike Fox to join Ray Tanner in Columbia.  Chad’s wife has family in Columbia and both the $$$ and chance for career advancement are better in Columbia.  This is NOT a “Dickie screw-up” although some will assume so based on assorted historical precedents.   This means ORW loses his “Girl Friday” which likely does not make ORW too happy.  ….. and we know how grumpy ORW can get when he ain’t happy!


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