Despite No Bowl, Duke Football Has Plenty to Celebrate

Mike KlineAnalyst INovember 25, 2009

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 14:  The Duke Blue Devils take the field before the game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Wallace Wade Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Duke Blue Devils won't be playing in a bowl game this season, so what is new, right?

Actually, there would be a lot that is new about this program going forward. Win or lose in their final game, the groundwork has been and is being set for a sustainable winning program.

Coach David Cutcliffe now has the framework for a program that will compete for future bowls.

In his second year Cutcliffe has shown he can take lesser talent and make it competitive, and in the very near future there will be less of a talent gap. Duke has been making strides in recruiting, and it is only a matter of time before it starts to show on the field.

Despite the amount of talent that is leaving following the graduation of this year's senior class, Duke will return a lot of experience and should once again be competing for a bowl next season.

Even without getting to a bowl, seniors like Thad Lewis, Vince Oghabasse, and Vincent Rey certainly will leave a positive legacy. These three, along with others, have seen the end to many a losing streak.

Lewis at times carried the Blue Devils on his back, and despite losing his best target from last year in Eron Riley, he made this year's corps group of receivers very good.

If only Lewis would have had a running game to fall back on, this Duke team could have made that final push.

But there is no use in worrying about the past. The only thing that matters now is the future for the Blue Devils.

When Duke takes the field against Wake Forest on Saturday, the seniors will have the opportunity to do something a Duke team hasn't done in 15 years—end the season without a losing record.

If the Blue Devils finish 6-6, 4-4, they will gladly take that .500 winning percentage into the offseason and work as hard as hell to improve on it.

I wouldn't expect anything less from Cutcliffe and his staff.

For anyone who thinks Cutcliffe has done all he can at Duke and will seek greener pastures elsewhere, think again.

Cutcliffe has proven he can take a doormat and turn it into a respectable team. Now it will be his challenge to turn a respectable team into a serious contender for a conference championship.

Laugh, but bet against him if you dare.