DURHAM, N.C. -- David Cutcliffe, the former Mississippi coach who spent the past two seasons as Tennessee's offensive coordinator, was hired by Duke on Friday, the Associated Press has learned.
Cutcliffe will be introduced as Duke's head coach during a news conference Saturday, a person familiar with the decision said on condition of anonymity because the announcement hadn't yet been made.
At Duke, he will have the difficult task of building the Blue Devils into winners after the team won just 22 games during the past 13 seasons.
The decision to hire Cutcliffe apparently was reached during an evening meeting of Duke's search committee. The 53-year-old coach said earlier in the day he had interviewed for the position, but denied receiving an offer.
With the hiring, Duke turned to the mentor of the Manning family of quarterbacks to shed its well-documented struggles. Cutcliffe worked with Peyton Manning during the coach's first stint at Tennessee, and later coached Eli Manning at Mississippi.
The Blue Devils have endured three losing streaks of 15 or more games during the past 13 seasons, have lost at least 10 games in three straight seasons and fired Ted Roof last month after a 1-11 finish and a 6-45 overall mark during four-plus seasons.
Earlier Friday night, Duke athletic director Joe Alleva declined to say whether anyone had been offered the job, but as he left his office at Cameron Indoor Stadium at about 7:30 p.m. he expressed confidence that a hire was coming soon.
|David Cutcliffe has spent the past two years with Phil Fulmer in Tennessee. (AP)|
Cutcliffe, one of six coaches known to have interviewed for the job, met both main criteria laid out nearly three weeks ago by Alleva, who wanted to replace Roof with an experienced head coach from the Bowl Subdivision who has an offense-minded reputation.
Cutcliffe has been on Phillip Fulmer's Tennessee staff for the past two seasons, orchestrating the offense and working with the Volunteers' quarterbacks, but has longed to become a head coach again.
"We all kind of have a desire to run a program -- that's kind of why I got into it," Cutcliffe said at Tennessee's media day in advance of the Vols' Outback Bowl appearance. "That really hasn't changed. I'm still fairly young ... but I just feel like there's a lot left out there to be done."
It was not immediately clear if Cutcliffe would remain for the bowl game.
One of the first Tennessee players Cutcliffe groomed into an NFL quarterback, Heath Shuler, praised the hiring of his former position coach because of his skills as a tactician. Shuler, now a Congressman representing western North Carolina, blossomed under Cutcliffe and was picked third overall by the Washington Redskins in 1994.