Wednesday, November 10, 2010

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.


Calvin said...

Interesting analysis ATL. Duke reminds me of other similar-minded mid-sized universities that seemingly prioritize one high-profile sport (e.g. Johns Hopkins lacrosse, Villanova hoops, Georgetown hoops). This actually makes me appreciate BC athletics that much more because we perform well in more than one high-profile sport: hockey program w/multiple national championships, hoops with 7 NCAA tourney bids in the last 10yrs, and a perennial bowl-bound football program (albeit lower-tier bowls).

Walter said...

Even though Duke has such a terrible football program, maybe it comes with the upside that it enables them to have the great bball program they do? Maybe Duke just doesn't have the financial resources to have numerous elite programs. How many private schools have multiple highly competitive sports teams? BC's got to be near the top of that list.

And the lower-tier bowls are as much the fans fault as the players. We're a terrible traveling fanbase, fi we traveled better ,the team would get rewarded with better bowls.

mod34b said...

We gotta beat DOOOOOOK.

What is it about that school that is so irksome? (It is not just being much higher ranked either) It kinda starts with Christian Laetner, but it arrogance, a snobbery unique to DOOOOK

But, I must say, they have got their best football team in years, and they have an excellent coach. A decent QB and a good coach are enough to spell trouble for 'Ol Frank.

But then again, it is entirely possible to see Montel run for over 200 yards. I would think that Tranq will want to keep the ball away from DOOOOK and will go with a ground game. The ground game should work. If we get any kind of lead, Tranq will stick with the clock-eating ground game and keep things close...Oh Boy, it is never easy with the Tranq.

I wonder how our bend-but-don't-break secondary will do. They have been pretty good last 3 games.

mod34b said...

Walter -- "Maybe Duke just doesn't have the financial resources to have numerous elite programs."

Duke has oodles and oodles of money. Their endowment is $4.5 billion, more than triple BC's endowment.

Big Jack Krack said...

Will our bend but don't break defense and Prevent Offense be enough to squeak out a victory over Duke before 25,000 fans?

Let's hope that Nyquil has the common sense to utilize McCluskey on Saturday.

Tomorrow is my anniversary, but I'm going to try to submit a question or two to GDF.

Walter said...

mod38b - I guess they just suck then, yeah? I'm okay with that too.

mod10aeagle said...

I just want to correct something Calvin said at the top. Villanova, which not too many years ago abandoned football altogether, is on the verge of being pulled up into the real D1, possibly in the Big East. They have been extremely competitive in their league for several years. True, any ACC or Big East team would hand them their asses today, but they haven't been ignoring football in favor of Bball.

Calvin said...

mod10aeagle, you're right to note that Villanova is paying more attention to football these days and they've been one of the top teams in Divison 1-AA / Championship Subdivision. But a school that has yet to make the jump to Div 1-A football - but has a national championship hoops team, multiple final four appearances, and plenty of NBA players - that to me makes 'Nova a basketball school for the time being. Hopefully for them that'll change.

Big Jack Krack said...

I submitted this question to Gene:

Hello Gene:

Hopefully our football team can win out for the remainder of the year and reach another bowl milestone.

Meanwhile, our "Prevent Offense" makes this team almost unwatchable. I fear we will continue to lose fans at the stadium if we continue to play boring offensive football, as many find it easier to watch the games on HD TV from the comfort of their own homes(if the games are even on TV).

Do you feel as though we are on the right path, or will we see changes in offensive strategy in the near future?

CT said...

Is the Duke game the CBS 3:30 game this week?

Snuffy said...

Yeah, sure, it is bumping the SEC game!!!

mod10aeagle said...

Calvin: you're right about Villanova. I hope their football program continues to rise. It would be nice to have another relatively small Catholic school playing big league football.