|Duke coach David Cutcliffe took a Gatorade bath after upsetting North Carolina this season. (US Presswire)|
Before David Cutcliffe coached his first game at Duke, the school's lawyers successfully argued in court that they should be able to back out of scheduled games against Louisville without penalty.
The Duke program was so bad, they argued, that any Division I football team would be a suitable replacement on Louisville's schedule.
Valparaiso? Prairie View? Colgate? All just as good as the Blue Devils.
At the time, Duke had won a total of six games over the previous five seasons. The Blue Devils had won three ACC games in the previous eight. They had a total of two home wins over ACC teams and one conference win on the road.
Duke matched all of those totals this season. A 6-6 record, 3-5 in conference, a win at Wake Forest and a bowl bid might not raise eyebrows on some campuses -- NC State just let go of their coach after a better season -- but it's water-to-wine time in Durham.
Cutcliffe will lead the Blue Devils into the postseason, with a Dec. 27 Belk Bowl matchup against Cincinnati. "This is the first bowl experience in quite some time for our fans," Cutcliffe said, "and it's the first time for any of our players."
In fact, it's very nearly the first time in some of his players' lives: Several members of the Blue Devils freshman class were born during the 1994 football season, the last time a Duke team played in a bowl game.
Duke went into the second-to-last game of the regular season with a chance to win the Coastal Division, won four straight games for the first time in 17 years and beat rival North Carolina for the second time in the last 20 years.
Things are clearly changing in Durham.
"I think we won one game the year before I got here," record-setting WR Conner Vernon said. "I'm not going to lie. I did think for a second that maybe a bowl game was impossible."
"We're doing something that hasn't been done in a long time," CB Ross Cockrell said, "and we're all part of this change in the Duke football culture."
None more so than the man at the top.
"We battled through some adversity, received tremendous leadership from our captains and reached our goal of playing in the postseason," Cutcliffe said.
Auburn, Tennessee, California, Virginia, Georgia Tech, South Florida, Illinois, Kansas are just some of the 49 FBS teams with worse records than Duke this season. Not to mention Colgate and Valpo.
It might be time for the Duke lawyers to start working on an appeal.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from ACC bloggers Shawn Krest and Sean Bielawski, follow @CBSSportsACC.