Duke's Cutcliffe named national coach of the year

Dec. 05, 2013 @ 06:25 PM

The parade of awards continued to roll to Duke’s football program on Thursday.

With the ACC championship game against No. 1 Florida State set for Saturday (8 p.m., WTVD) at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, Duke coach David Cutcliffe was named national coach of the year by the Walter Camp Foundation for leading the Blue Devils to such heights.

Also on Thursday, Duke senior right tackle Perry Simmons was named an Academic All-American as well as the winner of the Jim Tatum Award as the ACC’s top senior football scholar-athlete.

This the first national coach of the year award for Cutcliffe as a head coach. As Tennessee’s offensive coordinator, he won the Frank Broyles Award in 1998 as the nation’s top assistant coach.

He’s been named coach of the year in the Southeastern Conference (2003) and twice in the ACC (2012 and this season).

Leading Duke (10-2) to a school-record win total and its first appearance in the ACC championship game earned Cutcliffe the national coach of the year award. Ranked No. 20 in the Associated Press poll, Duke is one win away from its first outright ACC championship since 1962.

Duke quarterback Anthony Boone said Cutcliffe’s attitude towards success is infectious.

“His passion, his confidence and just his will to not be denied,” Boone said. “That kind of trickles down to the players in the program. His passion started when he first got here. Him telling us that he was going to change the program and not blinking an eye, not chuckling, not holding his breath, not thinking twice. The confidence when he said things were going to change around here just kind of trickled down to the players that play on Saturdays. Knowing that we could go out there and play with any team in the country.”

Cutcliffe won the ACC Coach of the Year award last season when he led Duke to 6-7 record that included the first bowl appearance in 18 years for the Blue Devils. He and Duke have topped that this year.

But Cutcliffe said his past experiences, like being let go at Mississippi one year after leading the Rebels to a 10-win season, a Cotton Bowl appearance and winning SEC coach of the year, will keep him humble and hungry despite his accolades.

“The process keeps going and it’s not going to stop,” Cutcliffe said. “I’m growing. If I’m as good next year as what people perceive me to be this year, we’ll probably fail. Because I should be better. You understand what I’m saying? That’s the way you have to approach that.”

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke’s Naismith Hall of Fame basketball coach, has more wins than any Division I men’s basketball head coach. He, too, has been impressed with what Cutcliffe, his staff and the university administration have done with Duke football.

“It’s magical how they have worked together to all provide an environment where magic can happen,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s such a great thing for our university. We as a program could not be happier for them. You know what? They’ve got a chance (against Florida State) because they are winners. They were a program that wanted to win going into the season and now they are a program of winners. They have proven that they can win. When you cross that bridge, a lot of neat things can happen. So we are happy and pulling for them like crazy.”

Simmons has started 49 consecutive games at right tackle for Duke, playing more than 3,600 snaps in his career. He is a two-time Academic All-American selection who has a 3.83 grade point average in civil engineering at Duke.

The ACC’s gives the Tatum Award in honor of the late Jim Tatum, a two-time ACC Coach of the Year who coached at Maryland and North Carolina in the 1950s.

Simmons is the second consecutive Duke player to win the award. Quarerback Sean Renfree, how with the Atlanta Falcons, won the Tatum Award last year.