Sources: Vols' offensive coordinator hired as Duke's coach

Updated: December 15, 2007, 1:02 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

DURHAM, N.C. -- David Cutcliffe, Tennessee's offensive coordinator for the past two seasons, was hired by Duke on Friday, sources told ESPN.com, and will be introduced as its head coach in a 5 p.m. news conference on Saturday.

Sources told ESPN.com that Cutcliffe's contract will approach an average of $1.5 million per year. He made $340,000 this past year at Tennessee, his second stint with the Vols as offensive coordinator. He's expected to take two of the Vols' assistants with him -- Kurt Roper and Matt Luke.

Along with the boost in his salary, Cutcliffe, a former head coach at Mississippi, has received assurances from the Duke administration that facilities will be upgraded and that he will have a pool of money available to put together the staff that he wants. He'll 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.

Cutcliffe is expected to attend the news conference along with his family.

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 last 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.

"By the end of the weekend, we'll be done," Alleva said.

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.

Cutcliffe was 44-29 in six seasons at Mississippi, but in less than a year went from Cotton Bowl champion to the unemployment line.

The only coach in Ole Miss history to win at least seven games in each of his first five seasons, Cutcliffe guided the Rebels to four bowl berths, and clearly, his Eli Manning-led 2003 team was his best.

Ole Miss won 10 games, claimed a share of the SEC West title and beat Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl that season. But the following season, the Rebels had trouble replacing the first-round draft pick, and they slipped to a 4-7 finish. Days after the season ended, Ole Miss administrators urged him to make changes to his staff, and when he refused, he was fired.

He joined Charlie Weis' first staff at Notre Dame in 2005, but resigned before the season started because he was taking longer than expected to recover from triple bypass surgery. Coincidentally, he was replaced by Peter Vaas, who left South Bend before this season to run the Duke offense.

In 2006, Cutcliffe rejoined Fulmer, his longtime friend and mentor, at Tennessee, and orchestrated the Vols' offense for the past two seasons while hoping for another chance at a head coaching job. Now, he has that opportunity at Duke.

Information from ESPN.com football writer Chris Low and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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