Roof fired at Duke following 1-11 season
DURHAM, N.C. -- Each week as a game approached, Ted Roof kept insisting Duke was making strides. It was the same old struggles on Saturdays that wound up costing the coach his job.
Duke fired Roof on Monday, two days after its season concluded with a 1-11 record and a ninth straight loss. The Blue Devils won four games in four years.
"It boiled down to the fact that we just didn't see enough improvement on the field this year to warrant having Ted come back for next year," athletic director Joe Alleva said.
Roof was optimistic about the future of the downtrodden team, telling those close to the program that Duke could be bowl eligible as soon as 2008. But as the losses mounted, it became clear to Alleva that Roof wouldn't be the coach to lead that turnaround.
"We didn't run this like a business, although there's a business side to everything," Roof said. "We approached this like it's a big family. Sometimes that's what makes it so difficult when families have to split up. That's what's happening right now."
Roof said he met with Alleva on Sunday morning, and the AD said he decided that night to fire the coach and informed him of the decision Monday morning. As is customary at the private school, Alleva declined to say how much Duke would pay to buy out Roof's contract, which runs through the 2008 season.
"This business is very results-oriented, and when you win four games in four years, it makes you take a hard look at what you're doing," Alleva said. "I felt that we had to make a change because of that. There's nothing else in Ted's character or integrity that would lead to a change here."
Roof's record dipped to 6-45 after a 20-14 overtime loss to North Carolina on Saturday, the Blue Devils' fourth straight to their rival. Duke has lost at least 10 games in three straight seasons, including a winless 2006.
"It's a very competitive business, and if you're a competitor, you don't want to not get it done on the field," Roof said. "Although we didn't get it done, the people closest to the program knew we were making progress as well."
Alleva met with Roof before Duke's game at Notre Dame two weeks ago. After a disheartening 28-7 defeat in which the Blue Devils didn't score until the final minutes, Alleva said Monday, he "felt the handwriting might be on the wall" for a change. But even the following week, before the North Carolina game, Alleva assured Roof that a decision hadn't been made.
"When I saw it on the 11 o'clock news, I figured we were in a pretty rough spot," Roof said.
Now, Alleva's focus is on leading a search committee. He said he's looking for someone with head coaching experience -- preferably in the subdivision formerly known as Division I-A -- and would like to make a hire within a month. But he said he would wait longer for someone who meshes with the values held by the elite university with high academic standards and successful teams in nearly every sport but football.
Duke has lost 25 straight Atlantic Coast Conference games and has endured three consecutive winless seasons in league play since upsetting Clemson in November 2004.
The highlight of Roof's final season was the end of a 22-game losing streak with a victory at Northwestern. The Blue Devils' current slide of nine consecutive losses ranks second only to Minnesota (10) among active losing streaks for teams from the six Bowl Championship Series conferences.
Roof coached linebackers at Duke from 1990-93 and came back to Durham in 2002 as the Blue Devils' defensive coordinator. He took over as the interim coach the following season after Carl Franks was fired. Roof led Duke to two wins in its final five games -- one-third of his career total, it would turn out -- and that prompted Alleva to remove the interim tag.
The big victories never came, with the results instead dwindling steadily from 2-9 in 2004 to 1-10 the following year to last season's 0-12 finish.
"It's a pretty tough job if you look at the history of the program over the past 30 years," Roof said, noting that Steve Spurrier is the only coach to leave Duke with a winning record in that time.
The most recent defeat might have been the toughest to take. As Nick Maggio's potential game-winning 40-yard field goal attempt sailed toward the uprights, someone gave Roof a victory bath -- a premature celebration because the kick went wide left.
"No excuses, no whatever," Roof said. "It all falls in my lap."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press