Duke Football: Blue Devils Struggling To Get Better, Stay Relevant Among Fans

Mike KlineAnalyst IOctober 25, 2010

Coaching Duke Football is a lonely task and no one knows better than David Cutcliffe.
Coaching Duke Football is a lonely task and no one knows better than David Cutcliffe.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

After nearly three-plus decades of consistent futility with only a few glimpses of hope, it is easy for most Duke fans to forget about the football team.

It is especially easy to forget them when they are in the midst of a 1-6 season, mired in a six-game losing streak.

What makes matters worse are performances like the 44-7 loss Saturday at Virginia Tech, and the game may not have even been that competitive.

Duke coach David Cutcliffe was more than a little displeased with the team effort, saying after that he thought they were ready to play well.

That clearly wasn't the case, as Duke couldn't move the ball offensively and the defense, which had looked to be getting better, was toyed with all day by Hokies quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

The program is clearly in the building mode, but it is hard to muster support with efforts like the one against Virginia Tech.

Many expected Duke to struggle some this year with such a young, inexperienced team, but perhaps no one expected 1-6 and 0-3 (ACC) at the midway point.

Cutcliffe is clearly still fighting the uphill battle on and off the field. Duke is a program that hasn't been relevant in nearly 40 or more years on the gridiron. Fans spoiled by the success of the basketball team seem to have little patience and energy to devote to the football program.

Many fans on message boards have already given up on the football team and there was generally more interest garnered for the Blue Devils' first basketball exhibition than the football team playing an ACC game.

It is hard to change perceptions over night, but many fans were high on the team following clearly visible improvement in the first two years of the Cutcliffe era.

Now that Duke has fallen off that pace, many fans are proclaiming the program is still as bad as ever and even as bad as it was during the Carl Franks, Ted Roof days.

What these fans fail to see, and what a few members of the media and the staff do, is that the program, despite its woeful record and terrible performance last Saturday, clearly is headed in the right direction.

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer complimented the Duke team and admitted its youth was a deciding factor in the one-sided nature of the game.

That will come as little consolation to anyone in the Blue Devil camp, but it is the truth. It isn't a truth anyone likes to hear, but Duke is still at least a season away.

Cutcliffe is building the program from scratch and that isn't done overnight. It is clear he is dedicated to the program, because if he wasn't he would have taken the Tennessee job that was dangled before him after last season.

If Duke fans can be patient and learn to embrace what a task it takes to rebuild a program, then they might be surprised and proud by what the team can accomplish.

The problem is that Duke fans don't know how to react to rebuilding since they are spoiled from basketball. Until the football team starts winning consistently, the fans will still consider Duke football as an appetizer before basketball season starts.