Tag Archives: Steve Spurrier

After Loss, Duke Still Gets Coaches’ Poll Vote

The day after the Blue Devils lost to Georgia Tech 27-0, Duke received a vote in the coaches’ poll. Again.

Last week, the mysterious coach was justified in handing the 3-1 Blue Devils a No. 25 tally. An AP voter once told us that the trick to voting is sneaking in one or two unparalleled choices: no one remembers a bad prediction, and the voter looks great if the team validates the vote. That is, if Duke had gone down to Atlanta and stomped the Yellow Jackets, it might have been ranked this week.

But a vote now? After a 27-0 loss? There are more than 25 teams better than the Blue Devils–this weekend proved that.

“Oh Lord, I don’t know who would do that,” head coach David Cutcliffe said Sunday.

Cutcliffe immediately suspected the coach he named last Sunday: South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, who made his name at Duke. But Spurrier told The Chronicle he wasn’t the culprit last week.

“He must be in a real good mood, he beat Ole Miss yesterday, so maybe he didn’t see our score,” Cutcliffe said of Spurrier. “But whoever did it didn’t see our score yesterday. It’s much appreciated, and we’ll try to live up to it next time out.”

–by Ben Cohen

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Update: Spurrier Did Not Vote For Duke

Contrary to what may be popular suspicion, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier did not vote for Duke in this week’s coaches’ poll, Director of Media Relations Steve Fink confirmed in an e-mail to The Chronicle.

Now that the most likely suspect has denied the vote, we’ll keep digging. Up next: Tennessee head coach Philip Fulmer, who has obvious ties to the Duke program through David Cutcliffe.

Again, feel free to drop your guesses in the comments section below.

–by Ben Cohen

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Spurrier’s Open Letter To Duke Fans

David Cutcliffe’s push to fill Wallace Wade Stadium is far from a new chore for Duke’s football coaches. The question of attendance—and, in particular, student attendance—is only relevant again because the Blue Devils are respectable for the first time in years.

The four student sections were jampacked for Duke’s first game, a 31-7 win over James Madison Aug. 30. The scene was so impressive—so un-Duke-Football—that Cutcliffe had a photo blown up on canvas and it now sits in his Yoh Football Center office. When he was introduced last December, he pledged to fill Wally Wade as the Rolling Stones did in 2005 and, if he only looked at the Duke half of the field that night, he might have gotten some satisfaction. The next week brought a 24-20 loss to Northwestern with another sizable crowd, but the following week, Duke’s last game, saw a paltry student section for a 41-31 win over Navy. So in the last two weeks, Cutcliffe has hit the recruiting trail for students, and he’ll sit down and sip some Coca-Cola with as many students as the Great Hall can hold Wednesday.

Maybe, though, he should take a trip to the University Archives and read up on past techniques.

Steve Spurrier was hired as Duke’s head coach in 1987, and in the spring, he sent an open letter to Duke fans, urging their support and pleading with them to fill Wallace Wade Stadium.

“We need to fill Wallace Wade Stadium every time we play at home,” Spurrier wrote. “Winning teams play in front of packed houses and fans can be instrumental in helping the home team achieve victory. You can make a difference!… Again, we are asking, not begging or demanding, just asking you to become a part of Duke football. We truly believe you’ll be glad you did.”

It took Spurrier’s Blue Devils another two seasons to sell out the stadium, but they did attract 30,800 fans for a 48-14 win over Georgia Tech in Spurrier’s first season. Duke finished with a 5-6 record that year en route to a 7-3-1 mark in Spurrier’s second year and an 8-4 mark in his third and final year on the job.

And those are numbers Cutcliffe would love to boast, too.

—by Ben Cohen

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The Ol’ Ball Coach Leaves a Message

In Tuesday’s Chronicle, former sports editor and current columnist Meredith Shiner writes about a message left on her cell phone by one of the nation’s top college football coaches. She defends Spurrier’s annual top-25 vote for Duke and laments the decision rendered by the American Football Coaches Association to prevent him from casting one this year.

The following is the audio of the message, in its entirety. Enjoy:

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No Top-25 Vote This Year From Spurrier

Like expecting for the sky to be blue and grass to grow green, Duke football fans seemingly could depend on former coach Steve Spurrier cracking open a window to the hallowed halls of college football’s top 25 each August. Out of respect for the university that gave him his first head coaching gig in college, the Ol’ Ball Coach has year after year given his 25th and final vote on the first coaches’ poll to Duke, even when the team has posted dreadful results in the win/loss column.

But in an apparent capitulation to past criticism from the leadership of the American Football Coaches Association and the editorial staff of USA Today, Spurrier appears to have abandoned his customary practice of including the Blue Devils at the bottom his preseason Coaches’ Poll ballot. Duke did not appear in the “Others Receiving Votes” section of the 2008 USA Today/AFCA Preseason Top 25, which was released today. Although only 61 of Division I-A’s 120 coaches are members of this season’s voting panel, Spurrier is listed amongst the group as a voter for the 2008 season.

Although he gave votes to Duke teams in 2005, 2006 and 2007 that combined for a woeful 2-33 record, this year’s Blue Devil team may be by comparison much more deserving of a preseason vote, as new head coach David Cutcliffe could potentially double that cumulative win total. Although they may not have the slot in the top-25 basement like they did before, Spurrier’s outspoken affinity for Duke would make it likely that he’d be amongst the first coaches to usher a deserving Blue Devil team back into the rankings.

-by Will Flaherty

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