Like expecting for the sky to be blue and grass to grow green, Duke football fans seemingly could depend on former coach Steve Spurrier cracking open a window to the hallowed halls of college football's top 25 each August. Out of respect for the university that gave him his first head coaching gig in college, the Ol' Ball Coach has year after year given his 25th and final vote on the first coaches' poll to Duke, even when the team has posted dreadful results in the win/loss column.
But in an apparent capitulation to past criticism from the leadership of the American Football Coaches Association and the editorial staff of USA Today, Spurrier appears to have abandoned his customary practice of including the Blue Devils at the bottom his preseason Coaches' Poll ballot. Duke did not appear in the "Others Receiving Votes" section of the 2008 USA Today/AFCA Preseason Top 25, which was released today. Although only 61 of Division I-A's 120 coaches are members of this season's voting panel, Spurrier is listed amongst the group as a voter for the 2008 season.
Although he gave votes to Duke teams in 2005, 2006 and 2007 that combined for a woeful 2-33 record, this year's Blue Devil team may be by comparison much more deserving of a preseason vote, as new head coach David Cutcliffe could potentially double that cumulative win total. Although they may not have the slot in the top-25 basement like they did before, Spurrier's outspoken affinity for Duke would make it likely that he'd be amongst the first coaches to usher a deserving Blue Devil team back into the rankings.
-by Will Flaherty