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
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