When most people talk Duke Football and are either humorously unaware of the strides they have made as a program and or are not a fan, then usually it is because the program is still the butt of a joke.
Case in point when ESPN’s College Game Day crew was talking about Virginia Tech being “good” Desmond Howard quipped, they lost to Duke. Hardly a ringing endorsement of a program.
You can’t really blame Desmond but so much. He likely hasn’t followed the Blue Devils recent rise from ACC doormat and college football’s laughing stock to a team that, while isn’t going to be confused with a juggernaut, has quietly started turning into one of the more up and coming programs in the ACC, if not the country.
Following Duke’s victory last week over then ranked No. 14 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, a win that solidified the program’s first second consecutive bowl appearance, the media was abuzz about Duke Football. David Cutcliffe was the toast of the college football world having resurrected a long believed dead program. He did interview after interview and not just with local media but also with national media like Jim Rome..
The Blue Devil’s second bye-week of the season came at the perfect time to allow the team to heal heading into the home stretch of the season, as well as compose themselves and not allow the victory over a ranked opponent to go to their heads. They’ve had time to let it sink in and get mentally prepared for their next game against NC State.
Media at times have taken either a pro-Duke or anti-Duke side because there are obvious pros and cons to this program. Those in the Duke corner rightfully point out that we are in November and talking about the Blue Devils having a shot, and it is a legitimate shot to play in the ACC Championship game. However, those not completely sold on Duke rightly point on that Duke was in a similar spot last year, hit November and lost their last 5 games.
Duke simply hasn’t proven it can be a team that can compete and win in November, though this year’s schedule is far more favorable than last year’s that featured both Florida State and Clemson.
The Blue Devils do no have to make the ACC title game to continue to be a team on the rise. They do, however, need to win some more games and the fanbase has to start growing. For Duke to take the next step they have to having winning records every season. Six-win seasons have to be seen as mediocre.
Hard to imagine considering how bad Duke has been, but if you want them to be something other than an oversight, the butt of a College Game Day joke, or seen as something other than the lovable loser who finally is winning some games, then they have to strive to be in the title game.
Duke is winning, they are generating buzz, but they are still not respected nationally or even locally despite back to back bowls. The only way to do that is to keep winning and be the last one laughing in the end.