by Mike Potter
YOH FOOTBALL CENTER/DURHAM David Cutcliffe gave the media a "man bites dog" story today.
The Duke football coach, who will be heading into his third season at the helm this fall, turned down the head coaching position as Tennessee to remain with the Blue Devils. That conclusion came despite numerous published and broadcast reports late Thursday that he was almost certainly going to be in orange next season.
"I can't control what's being reported," Cutcliffe said at an afternoon press conference. "I took that job five times last night. And I'm learning how many E-Mails and texts a Blackberry can take."
Reports said that a major sticking point during his negotiations with Tennessee had to do with the former long-time UT assistant bringing his entire staff with him to Knoxville.
"It's a part of friendship," Cutcliffe said. "There's no way to have great friends unless you are a great friend. There's no way to have loyalty unless you are loyal. I know (my coaches') wives, children, their wives' parents, their parents. Wherever we go, we go together.
"In following my heart, I had just too many indicators to be here. Too many people I have great respect for are here."
Cutcliffe said his family was a major part of his consideration to stay.
"My 9-year-old (Emily) definitely wanted to stay here regardless," he said. "I've been told before by my 20-year-old (Katie) when she was young—I was trying to make a decision whether or not to go to Alabama as offensive coordinator one time—and she said, 'Dad, the kids at school are saying you're going to Alabama, and if you go we sure are going to miss you.'
"I kind of remembered that and I told (Emily), 'I've got a pretty good idea that when I do go to bed I'm probably going to know what I'm going to do. We'll be fine.' A little while later she came and said 'Isn't it bedtime?' I don't know what time it was but she's a happy girl, I know that."
Duke players seemed to be pretty happy about the news.
"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a little bit disheartening all day yesterday," tight end Brett Huffman said. "As soon as we woke up and were lifting, we started hearing the buzz even more so, and it continued and got even heavier through the night. To be honest, it sounded like a done deal going to bed last night. I woke up for lifting this morning and already had about 10 text messages and e-mails on my phone saying 'Coach Cut's staying.'
"It was a big decision for him and really respect him for his decision. This matter was out of our hands as players. There's nothing we could do or say. We're a very close group. We know his history and his situation, and this seemed like a dream job for him."
Added running back Jay Hollingsworth, "I was really nervous along with most of my teammates. This is a great relief that he's staying. The program is on the up and up right now and it's really important that he's staying and continuing to build the program. A lot of sources had said he was gone or had already left. We just didn't know."