Duke coach David Cutcliffe half-joked on Wednesday that he got his 2014 class signed, “took 30 seconds off,” and then began recruiting for the 2015 class. Momentum has certainly been key for the Blue Devils, whose historic 10-win season was a boost to what could be the best class since Cutcliffe was hired at Duke. I spoke with him on signing day about the strength of the class, how the recruiting has changed, and the caliber of athletes joining the program. Cutcliffe is always a good interview, so this will be a two-part post that should interest most ACC fans, not just Duke fans, because of the progress the program has made and because of Cutcliffe’s perspective on things.
Here are the highlights of our conversation:
It looked like this was a pretty good year for you guys on the recruiting trail. What do you like about this class?
David Cutcliffe: I like this class a lot. The thing I’m really concerned with is recruiting for August, not February. These guys, I know exactly who they are, and they’re all going to be here, lord willing, in August or earlier. They’re all the kind of people I like to associate with. They’re going to be great teammates. When the dust settles after you’ve played -- I don’t care who you are -- you would want that said about you. We have focused on signing guys I think are going to be great teammates and outstanding players.
As far as talent goes, do you feel like this is the best class you’ve had since you’ve been at Duke?
DC: I think it can be, but we’ve recruited pretty well. The 10-win season always helps, but with the way recruiting is, it will help more next year. The 2015 class has a better chance to look at us as a 10-win team than this class did because most of it was committed and solidly committed last summer.
How much did losing your offensive coordinator throw things for a loop on the recruiting trail?
DC: Not any at all. We’re going to run the same offense we’ve always run. We make adjustments year to year, and through the years we’ve tried to be a chameleon, but our system is going to be what it is and stay the same. I’m not smart enough to learn a new offense. I’ll never do that. We believe in what we’re doing.
Did you hire somebody?
DC: No, I have not, but that’s not going to matter to what we do because we’re going to run the things I believe in and that I’ve done my whole career on offense. We’re solid and stable on defense, and we’re starting spring practice on Friday for a lot of reasons. I don’t know that we’ll have a hire by then, but it really doesn’t stymie us right now. I’ll tell you part of it why, not to try to be mysterious, but I don’t like trying to do hiring work on the phone, and I have been completely gone for this recruiting. Two weeks in a row, over weekends, etc. When I talk to people about being a part of our staff, I’m doing it face to face. That’s my old-fashioned philosophy.
Click here to read Part II of the interview.