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Roof can restore football

Duke has a pretty impressive football history, though it may not seem that way.

In 1938, the famed “Iron Dukes” defense set a remarkable standard for defensive dominance, shutting out their opponents in all nine regular season games. In fact, were it not for a last-minute touchdown, the Blue Devils would have won the school’s first national championship eight years before Mike Krzyzewski was even born.

In 1941, Duke outscored its opponents by an average of nearly 30 points per game to earn to a Rose Bowl berth. All told, the Blue Devils boast eight bowl appearances and three bowl victories.

Since then, Duke football has become the red-headed stepchild of the ACC.

Granted, Duke—at least as long as Krzyzewski remains head coach—will probably always be a basketball school. And with the new souped-up ACC, it’s difficult to envision the Blue Devils even winning the conference, much less seriously contending for the national title.

But mark this down: The Blue Devils finally have the coaching and recruits to win football games consistently. And in the next four years, Ted Roof will do just that and take Duke to its fourth bowl victory.

“Our attitude is different this year,” safety Brian Greene said. “We have more confidence in ourselves, and we have more confidence in the people who are coaching us. We just enjoy being around Coach Roof, he’s a great guy.”

A great guy, indeed. After Carl Franks was fired, Roof took a team that had been humiliated by a sub-.500 Wake Forest and transformed it into a squad that manhandled Georgia Tech, beat archrival North Carolina for the first time in 13 years and gave bowl-bound N.C. State and Tennessee all they could handle. In just five weeks as interim head coach, Roof revitalized a squad that had been demoralized by a 2-5 opening. To put that in perspective, the Blue Devils’ scoring differential was -15.1 points per game before he took over. Over the last five games that differential was -5 points per game, a 10-point swing despite a more difficult schedule.

Now firmly established as the head coach, Roof has attracted one of the best coaching staffs the Blue Devils have had in recent memory. New offensive coordinator Marty Galbraith was in the NFL last year as the tight ends coach for the Arizona Cardinals. Before that, he drew up plays for Chad Pennington at Marshall and Phillip Rivers at N.C. State. Should Blue Devil quarterbacks need any more tutelage, they can turn to new quarterbacks coach Tommy Knotts, who coached Chris Leak in high school. Additionally, as the coach of a program that had not lost a game in four seasons, Knotts brings the winning attitude to the Blue Devils they sorely need. Wide receivers coach David Kelly tutored Hines Ward, Kelly Campbell, Troy Edwards and Josh Reed in college.

Armed with a new coaching staff, Roof has also shown that he can secure the necessary talent to start winning football games. Not only did he garner four commitments the week after being named interim head coach, he was able to cobble together an impressive class, complete with a U.S. Army All-American, despite the lack of a coaching staff or a definite job. This year, he has looked even more impressive on the recruiting trail after receiving verbal commitments from four commitments rated in the three-star range by In comparison, the Blue Devils received only six commitments rated in that range or higher in the past three recruiting seasons combined.

“I feel like it’s been a dream come true for [Ryan Wood] to be able to play Division I football and go to an institution like Duke and play for a coaching staff like Roof,” said Dexter Wood, head coach of Buford High School—winners of 45 consecutive football games—and father of Duke commitment Ryan Wood. “I’ve observed a lot of coaching staffs in my 30 years and I’ve never seen one like Duke.”

Ever since former coach Steve Spurrier left, neither have the Blue Devils.


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