Why isn't Duke better at football?
While I've been a BC fan since Flutie, my true memories from following the team only reach back to the Coughlin days. Since that time with every losing streak, every coaching change, every conference shakeup, there are some BC fans who immediately turn to gloom and doom and think we will never be good in football again. I've always been of the half full philosophy, because ultimately it is hard to be bad at football forever. Which is what makes Duke's situation so curious. Since 1990 (their first year after Spurrier) they have had only one winning season. That is shocking to me. How can a school with so many resources and such a great brand not produce winning football? Could this ever happen to BC? Let's look at the reasons for Duke's ills.
Hiring the wrong coaches
This is Duke's list of coaches in order since Spurrier left. Barry Wilson, Fred Goldsmith, Carl Franks, Ted Roof, and David Cutcliffe. It is a mix of Spurrier assistants, a guy from lower conferences, and promoted assistant and Cutcliffe. Cutcliffe might prove to be the right guy but I think most weren't from the start. Take Wilson and Franks. Both were hired with the idea that they -- as former Spurrier guys -- would recapture the Spurrier magic. But that was very naive on Duke's part. Spurrier didn't win at Duke because he onlocked some hidden potential in the program that could be duplicated. He won at Duke because he was Steve Spurrier and 20 years ahead of everyone offensively in college football. Cutcliffe I think makes sense because he understands building a program. He's not winning solely because he is a good play caller. Now at BC's we've hired two TOB assistants to be our head coach. Where this differs from Duke is that TOB was more of a CEO style coach. His Xs and Os weren't the reason we won most of our games. It was TOB's structure and consistency that helped build our program. Plugging in Jags or Spaz wasn't like promoting a Spurrier assistant because we kept the foundation for the success.
Keep said coaches too long.
Goldsmith, Roof and Frank all got five seasons. Wilson got four. BC let Henning go after two losing season and a scandal. Jags lost a game of chicken after two winning seasons. Things are different in Durham. Goldsmith got three seasons after his scandal. Roof was brought back after 1-10 after 0-12 seasons. Do you ever think BC would put up with that?
They just don't care
Some basketball schools make the effort in football. Some just don't. Despite having a good football tradition up until the '60s, there is no Duke contingency pushing for elite football. Winning at private, academic schools can be tough, but Northwestern, Stanford, Wake Forest and BC all show that it can be done. If there was real donor pressure Duke would have put more pressure on their coaches, been more aggressive in their recruiting and admissions, and done more to change the atmosphere around Wallace Wade Stadium. I whine about our passive fan base, but I can't ever see us allowing long losing streaks without making changes in our approach.
What is Duke's true upside?
That really depends on how far they are willing to go. But realistically I think they should be competitive every year and have good runs like Northwestern and Stanford do every few years. I just hope they are not competitive when we play them again in four years.