The David Cutcliffe era has begun at Duke. The question is, can he win? For that matter, can anyone win at Duke?
We all know the story of the Steve Spurrier's days at Duke and the job he did when he was there.
Can it be done again?
Perhaps Duke winning in football is just something that comes along every 50 years or so.
But for now, Cutcliffe has to ask himself, "What is really achievable this year?"
We all know the armed Dukes of Durham are not going to win the divisional title. We all know that Duke is not going to have a winning season.
So what can we expect, and what will the head coach accept as a "good" year?
I think four wins this year would be a success for Cutcliffe and the school. That would be my first goal if I were coach.
The next would be to increase my home attendance by 5,000. Duke averaged 20,064 people per game last year at Wallace Wade Stadium. I'm not going to get into why this is pathetic—if you are on this site, you already know that is pathetic.
Let us examine the first goal that I have proposed for the Duke football team. Duke has not had a season where they won four games since 2003, when they finished 4-8. In fact, one has to go all the way back to 1994 to find a year Duke won more than four games in a season.
That said, I think Duke can win four this year.
First, Duke has an excellent football coach. Cutcliffe won at Ole Miss! His all-time record is 44-29 and he had a winning conference record while at Ole Miss.
Second, Duke has 17 starters coming back and 50 lettermen returning. The core of the team is in place.
The third reason is the schedule. Duke opens with James Madison, which should be a win. Then Duke gets Northwestern at home. Duke beat this team last year on the road and has more starters coming back, so it would stand to reason that Duke can win this one.
Navy then comes to town. How much will the loss of coach Paul Johnson affect Navy? This is another game Duke can win.
This is when it gets interesting. Duke can't, in my opinion, beat Clemson, Wake Forest, UNC, Virginia, or Virginia Tech. The question becomes, with Georgia Tech hiring a new coach and numerous starters lost, how vulnerable are the Jackets?
NC State and Miami are still learning under second-year coaches. Last year Duke lost by just 10 to Miami. Duke also gets Vandy this year. Vandy is a team that returns just nine starters from last year.
I feel Duke will beat James Madison, beat Northwestern, and upset Navy. That leaves simply one game that Duke needs to win. Is that team Virginia, Georgia Tech, Miami, Vanderbilt, or NC State?
In any case, I say Duke goes 4-8.
As far as attendance, there is no reason Duke should not average 25,000 this year. NC State and UNC play at Wallace Wade. The Miami game should draw a lot of excitement, and fans will still come to see the Canes despite the luster of Miami football being long gone.
Attendance should be up because of the new coach and the excitement that this creates among the fan base.
Win four games and get the attendance up. Rome was not built in a day.