Why Duke's Defensive Coordinator's Departure Is a Good Thing

Mike KlineAnalyst IDecember 17, 2009

IRVING, TX - 2005:  Mike MacIntyre of the Dallas Cowboys poses for his 2005 NFL headshot at photo day in Irving, Texas.  (Photo by Getty Images)
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Success, even minor success, breeds opportunities.

The Duke football team learned its first lesson in that old adage when their defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre left the Blue Devils after two years in Durham.

MacIntyre on Thursday accepted the head coaching job at San Jose State.

Simply the fact that any FBS school would consider going to Duke to pull from its coaching staff is a sign that things are headed in the right direction in the Bull City.

MacIntyre last month was awarded the National Assistant Coach of the Year award by the American Football Coaches Association.

In his two years, he took a Duke defense that was regularly rated last in the ACC, if not among FBS-level schools, to a semblance of respectability. What is even more impressive is that he did so with players who were regularly not as fast, big, or strong as other teams' personnel.

Naturally one would think that this would hurt Duke, as programs need strong assistant coaches to build and maintain a winning program.

This is especially true since Duke has yet to post a winning season under David Cutcliffe, who is eyeing a trip to a bowl game very soon for the Blue Devils.

Cutcliffe insisted upon his hiring that getting the right assistants and paying them was the key to building a program capable of going to bowl games year in and year out.

In an interview conducted with a local Raleigh/Durham radio show on Wednesday, Cutcliffe said he didn't much care for being a Bowl Analyst, because why the hell would anyone listen to a coach who can't get their team to a bowl?

That is something he hopes to rectify starting next year. 

With MacIntyre's departure, Duke will have to fill the void with someone who is willing to put up with the struggles that will surely still face the Blue Devils as they continue their rebuilding efforts.

The good news is that Cutcliffe has made Duke football exciting again and has raised the expectations among players and fans.

So the prospect of attracting another skilled assistant, will not be as hard as it would have been in past years. Add in the fact that Cutcliffe has a solid reputation, unlike Duke's previous two coaches and the odds are likely the Blue Devils will have someone capable within the next month or two.

So even though departures are usually not a good sign for programs in the building phase, Duke can take some comfort in knowing that at least this time it may be a good omen.