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David Cutcliffe: Football Coach And Political Wonk

It has become somewhat of a tradition for David Cutcliffe to start his Tuesday press conference with a prolonged lighthearted quip or engage with the media mob in a topic other than football. He chided reporters for the impressive arsenal of digital recorders and iPods with microphones in front of him one week and expressed his literal distaste for yellow jackets before Duke played Georgia Tech.

This week, Cutcliffe began with a political statement.

"If we win, there is certain to be an Atlantic Coast crisis in the next six months," he said.


"Y'all don't get it. I don't believe it!" he said jokingly. "Do y'all not watch the news, the last days in politics? Anybody pay attention to what's going on? Anybody know what Joe Biden's quote was? Good gracious guys, you have your heads buried in the sand. Never mind, you won't get what I just said."

He directed his question to Art Chase, Duke's sports information director, standing in the back and then to Gerald Harrison, the school's assistant athletic director for football.

"Art, you get what I just said?" he asked.

"No, sir!" Chase responded.


"I do," Harrison said giddily.

"Well, that's one guy in here with a little savvy," Cutcliffe responded. "So let me educate you guys before we go any further."

Cutcliffe's introductory comment, of course, alluded to Barack Obama's vice presidential candidate's telling voters to "mark my words" that there will be an "international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle" of Obama, a 47-year-old first-term senator. Biden's remark has dominated the news cycle for the last 24 hours, and Cutcliffe, a coach who works from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day, picked up on the sound bite. He was so pleased with his satire, though, he didn't give reporters a chance to respond—so he proceeded to give a primer in current events before offering his take on what Duke did wrong against Miami and how it can improve against Vanderbilt.

"Joe Biden, in trying to be the good presidential person, said if Barack Obama was elected—and this is his guy!—there is certain to be an international crisis in six months because he would be tested," Cutcliffe explained. "It's just blown out of proportion by him saying that about his own camp. What I was telling you guys was if we win, there's certain to be an ACC crisis. Now you know what I'm saying. I haven't lost my mind. Good gosh! I'm going to get a political science professor here to precede me before I begin. Every now and then it would do you well to read the news to know what's going on. Gas prices are going down, that's good."

Just then, a reporter butted in to tell Cutcliffe that he had voted earlier in the day.

"Did you? Congratulations," Cutcliffe said in a heartfelt tone. "That's good. I haven't gotten that done yet, but I will."

And then, finally, Cutcliffe shifted the topic back to a familiar topic after what had turned into a political debriefing.

"Let's talk about something we all know a little about," he said, "and that's football."

Phew. One thing we certainly have to look forward to: His press conference in two weeks lands—yep, you guessed it—on Election Day.


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