FSU AD Stan Wilcox helped Cutcliffe build Duke program
Stan Wilcox parted Duke with a challenge.
Tonight, his prophecy will play out with the ACC championship at stake.
Last August, Florida State hired Wilcox as its athletics director, plucking him off the staff at Duke where he was a senior deputy director of athletics.
Wilcox’s duties at Duke included oversight of the football program and, since 2008, he and Duke coach David Cutcliffe had worked hand-in-hand to change the Blue Devils’ football fortunes.
Before he left Duke for Tallahassee, Fla., Wilcox issued a challenge to the Blue Devils.
“I said do one thing for me,” Wilcox said Friday. “I put the challenge out there to them. Make it to the ACC championship game in Charlotte because we are going to be there.”
Tonight at Bank of America Stadium, the team that Wilcox helped build meets the team he now oversees when No. 20 Duke faces No. 1 Florida State.
Even though Wilcox has been gone for four months, his contributions to Duke haven’t been forgotten.
“When you work with special people — and Stan is special — you’re not going to break the bond of the friendship we’ve formed,” Cutcliffe said. “And I would say that even as the Director of Athletics at Florida State, Stan has to feel some form of a sense of pride with these young men at Duke that he has relationships with and he’s happy for them. We all know who he’s for in the ballgame, including me, I’m not kidding myself. But I think it’s a special circumstance because our players are very, very fond of Stan Wilcox.”
After Duke played in a bowl game last year for the first time in 18 years, Wilcox thought the Blue Devils were headed back to a bowl this season. But seeing Duke set the school-record for wins while compiling a 10-2 record is extraordinary for everyone.
“It’s amazing to see the kids that I knew and helped recruit there mature and become great players and buy into the program that Coach Cutcliffe put together there,” Wilcox said. “They all executed very well. They are very confident as you see them now. If you would have looked at them five years ago to now, it’s like night and day.”
Even in his new job at Florida State, Wilcox kept close tabs on the Blue Devils. In the athletic director’s suite at Florida State games, Wilcox and his wife would also watch Duke play on their iPads and iPhones.
“I put them on in my box while we were watching FSU,” Wilcox said. “We would see how Duke was doing. It’s obviously a great year for them.”
ONE LB TO ANOTHER
Back in his hometown, Duke’s Kelby Brown feels at home at Bank of America Stadium.
His grandparents were original Personal Seat License (PSL) owners who helped Charlotte land the NFL franchise 20 years ago. Their names are engraved on bricks in front of the stadium along with other PSL owners.
On Friday, in addition to all that, one of the stars of this year’s successful Panthers team made a point to find Brown for a chat.
Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, a former Boston College star, and Brown spent some time talking together while Duke’s players visited the stadium.
“It’s cool because he knew who I was,” Brown said. “I’ve been watching him for years and now he’s on my favorite team. He remembers watching me on film. In ACC, you watch the other schools (on film). So I saw him on defense and he saw me on defense while he was preparing for other offenses. He’s just a real friendly guy.”
An All-ACC linebacker himself Brown said they didn’t even talk much football, more about life stuff. But they could get together in the offseason when Brown returns to Charlotte.
“This spring I’m going to try to get together with him maybe,” Brown said. “Maybe he can give me some pointers about what it takes. I can model my game a little bit after how he plays. Similar style of football. That was a real cool experience meeting a guy that I’ve looked up to.”