Coach Cutcliffe’s Weekly Teleconference Notes

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

COACH CUTCLIFFE: We have great respect for this Miami program for great reasons. They’ve been very difficult for us to deal with. They’re a physical challenge. Our team is very aware of that.

I think we’ve done a really good job starting Sunday of leaving last week behind, even though it was a long game, and moving forward with preparations.

We’ve still got a lot of work, a lot of focus to do. We know that right now everything we’re going to be doing, people we play every year. We know that the challenges are there. The thing to do is prepare and play as well as we possibly can.

With that, I will take your questions.

Q. It seems like when you first went to Duke, you found a good fit in terms of finding a program that was willing to be patient and allow you to build the program the way you wanted to. With a lot of these coaching changes, for some of them, do you think nowadays it’s a pretty big factor in why we’re seeing all these coaching changes, that programs aren’t willing to be as patient and aren’t really letting coaches develop the programs the way they should be?

COACH CUTCLIFFE: It’s an interesting time. Of course, I’ve had a long, long career, so I’ve seen a lot of changes in the business of college football. There’s a lot more media involved in reporting and creating awareness. We have a network that you guys have that does a great job of making people aware, fans aware.

Therefore, I think administrators, whether it be ADs, presidents, boosters, are all going to have quick opinions, be they good or bad. Nothing is ever as good as it seems, nothing is ever as bad as it seems.

I think that it’s important for schools and coaches and administrators to recognize when right fits are there and do a good job of hiring the right fit, not just somebody you think is going to be successful.

I think a big part of it from coaches, from my perspective, I would tell young prospective head coaches to find places that fit your personalities, have conversations that need to be had before you take a job. Then you kind of understand the circumstances a little better.

But it’s a very difficult task on both ends. I don’t point fingers at administrators and I certainly don’t at coaches. It’s just become unfortunately a little more like the National Football League with these things happening so quickly. Nothing good about it. I can’t think of anything good about any of these early exits that coaches are having to make.

Q. Is that what you credit a lot of your success at Duke to, is finding the right personality fit for you, and the administration being patient with you?

COACH CUTCLIFFE: Yeah, I think I had good conversations, just honest conversations, with Dr. Brodhead, our president. I continue to do that with Kevin White. Kevin White has been the AD every year we’ve been here.

Continuity is so unusual now at any level. Had the same president, the same AD, the same head football coach, and we have similar philosophies, the way we think things should be done.

Kevin wasn’t here when I was hired, but certainly Dr. Brodhead was. We had deep conversations about all of this before we ever got started talking about contract.

Q. Looking at your last game, obviously when you give up a touchdown late, go into overtime, the momentum kind of swings opposite yours. Talk about your team’s resiliency going into four overtimes, finding a way to pull that win out.

COACH CUTCLIFFE: Well, it really slipped right through our fingers late. Give Virginia Tech great credit. They played really well, particularly the second half of the ballgame. Not only did we give up a late score, we got took the ball, got it back with 2:07, went down the field, missed a game-winning field goal.

From my perspective you were worried about being a little deflated. I saw none of that on our sideline. I thought our leaders, coaches, captains were locked in and getting ready for what happened. I can’t say enough about the resiliency of our players and our staff. They did it.

I recognize it was a good time for me to get out of the way, which I try to do regularly. But I was very pleased with that. We’ve had to try to address a lot of the reasons we thought we let a victory kind of slip through our fingers in regulation. So we haven’t lost that either.

We realize and understand, I think our players really understand it, we can’t win games that way. But, again, they were very mentally tough each overtime, mentally tough going into the first overtime, which helped us to continue to push the game along.

Q. Not seeing Al Golden on the other sideline with Miami, what can you say about that situation, knowing he’s not going to be there after you’ve obviously gone up against him in the past?

COACH CUTCLIFFE: Yeah, the University of Miami is a great program. Football-wise, they will be fine. They’re going to be fine. That’s not the issue.

The issue is exactly what you just said for me. I have great respect for Coach Golden. He’s a friend. I’m concerned about him, his family. That’s tough stuff in this profession. It’s never, never going to be easy.

I’m sad. I’m not only sad for him, I’m sad for the assistant coaches, families that may be having to sell houses, children having to change schools. I’ve lived it, and there’s nothing easy about it.

I hope the outcome for him ultimately is a special one. Oftentimes it certainly can be. I’m living proof. Hopefully that occurs with him.

Q. I’m not implying in no way that any coach or any players would ever overlook the Miami Hurricanes with the rich success they’ve had in the history of their program. But as a coach, how difficult is it at times to just keep your team focused on any particular game at hand and not the distractions surrounding the game, in this case with Miami and the coaching change, which seems to be the focus of the attention by the media and social media where everybody are self-proclaimed experts? How do you keep them focused on the Miami Hurricanes this Saturday and not the distractions surrounding it?

Well, I talked to our team briefly on Sunday about all of this in a team meeting. We have enough maturity and leadership, really our junior and senior class, all those guys have played, played a lot against Miami, understand who they are.

It’s really not as hard as you might think. They look at tape. They see the product. They see the talent. They see how hard they play. They play well in the kicking game, on the offense and defense. I’ve been asked a lot obviously all week long about the Clemson game, what does that do.

Well, it’s an outlier. When you look at it, you study it on tape, you see it’s an outlier. Clemson is a great football team. Take nothing away from them. A great football team. Maybe as good of a team as there is in the country. But that’s not indicative of the University of Miami.

Why things like that happen, sometimes there’s no explanation.

So our team has seen them on tape. They understand how hard Miami plays, how well they play. So I think our guys are so busy with school, I’ve asked a couple of the upperclassmen, they hadn’t seen or heard much about any of this anyway. So we’re just kind of focused on practice.

We have a routine, and we’re right dead in the middle of our week. That’s kind of all we’ve talked about now.

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