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Duke Blue Devils football

Duke Blue Devils Football
40px2015 Duke Blue Devils football team
First season 1888
Athletic director Kevin White
Head coach David Cutcliffe
8th year, 40–47 (.460)
Home stadium Wallace Wade Stadium
Stadium capacity 33,941
Stadium surface Grass
Location Durham, North Carolina
Conference ACC
Division Coastal
All-time record 474–493–31 (.490)
Postseason bowl record 3–8 (.273)
Claimed national titles 0
Conference titles 17 (7 ACC, 10 Southern)
Division titles

1 (2013)

  • ACC Divisions were added in 2005
Heisman winners 0
Consensus All-Americans 4

Duke Blue and White

Fight song "Fight! Blue Devils, Fight!"
"Blue and White"
Mascot Blue Devil
Marching band Duke University Marching Band ("DUMB")
Rivals North Carolina Tar Heels
Virginia Cavaliers
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
North Carolina State Wolfpack

The Duke Blue Devils football team represents Duke University in the sport of American football. The Blue Devils compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Coastal Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The program has 17 conference championships (7 ACC championships and 10 Southern Conference titles), 53 All-Americans, 10 ACC Players of the Year (the most in the ACC), and have had three Pro Football Hall of Famers come through the program (second in the ACC to only Miami's four).[1] The team is currently coached by David Cutcliffe and play their home games at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Although Duke has mostly struggled since the mid-1960s, the Blue Devils are currently undergoing a renaissance under Cutcliffe. Duke secured their first Coastal division title on November 30, 2013 with a win over arch-rival North Carolina. Additionally, the Blue Devils cracked the top 20 of the BCS standings, the AP Poll, and the Coaches' Poll during the 2013 season and very nearly scored an upset over a potent Texas A&M team in the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl, losing by only four points after jumping out to a 38–17 lead at halftime. In 2014, Duke followed up with a 9-win season, including a victory over eventual Orange Bowl winner Georgia Tech, and another close bowl loss to 15th-ranked Arizona State in the Sun Bowl.


Early history (1888–1930)

The Duke Blue Devils, then known as the Trinity Blue and White, first fielded a football team in 1888, coached by John Franklin Crowell. The 1891 team went undefeated and claims a southern championship.[2][3] The Blue Devils were independents and later members of the Southern Conference during this time period before becoming a charter member of the ACC. The Blue Devils did not compete in football from 1895 to 1919.[4]

Wallace Wade era (1931–1941 and 1946–1950)

File:Wallace Wade.jpg
Wade at Vanderbilt, c. 1921

In late 1930, Wallace Wade shocked the college football world by leaving Alabama for Duke. He had been at Alabama since 1923, after assisting Dan McGugin's Vanderbilt Commodores during two undefeated southern championships. An upset by the Florida Gators in 1923 is all that stopped Alabama from a conference title in Wade's first year. In 1924 he won the SoCon title, and in 1925 and 1926 won national championships. His 1925 team was the first Southern team to win a Rose Bowl. Wade was under fire at Alabama after lackluster seasons in 1928 and 1929, which included narrow losses to Robert Neyland's Tennessee Volunteers. Wade submitted his resignation on April 30, with the caveat that he coach next season. John Suther described the feeling before the Tennessee game that year, which Alabama won 18–6. "Coach Wade was boiling mad. He was like a blood-thirsty drill sergeant anyway, and those critics made him more fiery ... He challenged us to help him shut up the loudmouths that were making his life miserable."[5] In his final year at Alabama, Wade won his third national championship. Though Wade refused to answer questions regarding his decision to leave Alabama for Duke until late in his life, he eventually told a sports historian he believed his philosophy regarding sports and athletics fit perfectly with the philosophy of the Duke administration and that he felt being at a private institution would allow him greater freedom.[6] Wade's success at Alabama translated well to Duke's program. He sent former Alabama players and future Duke assistants Herschel Caldwell and Ellis Hagler to the school a year early to prepare a team. Duke won 7 Southern Conference championships in the 16 years that Wade was coach.[7] He also led the team to 2 Rose Bowls. Wade served a stint in the military in World War II, leaving the team after the 1941 season and returning before the start of the 1946 season.[6] Wade's achievements placed him in the College Football Hall of Fame.[6]

In 1933, Duke, led by North Carolina's first first-team All-American Fred Crawford, upset Neyland's Tennessee Volunteers 10 to 2. It was Tennessee's first loss in over two and a half seasons.[8][9] It caused Neyland to say of Crawford: "He gave the finest exhibition of tackle play I have ever seen."[10] The most famous Duke football season came in 1938, when the "Iron Dukes" went unscored upon for the entire regular season.[6] Duke reached their first Rose Bowl appearance, where they lost 7–3 when Southern California scored a touchdown in the final minute of the game on a pass from a second string quarterback to a third string tight end.

Duke would be invited again to make the trip to Pasadena for the 1942 Rose Bowl, this time to play Oregon State in 1942.[6] Due to fears of additional west coast attacks by the Japanese in the wake of Pearl Harbor, the decision was made to move the game to Durham.[6] As Duke's stadium was significantly smaller than the regular venue, bleachers were borrowed from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina, which boosted capacity from 35,000 to 55,000. Despite being 3 to 1 favorites, the Iron Dukes would lose the game 20 to 16.[6] Wade retired after the 1950 season and, for his great achievements, Duke named their football stadium after him.[6] The Blue Devils still play their home games at Wallace Wade Stadium. Wade's final record at Duke is 110–36–7.[7]

Eddie Cameron era (1942–1945)

While Wallace Wade was serving in the military, Duke football assistant coach Eddie Cameron was promoted to head coach to fill in for Wade until his return from service.[6][11] Cameron's Blue Devils teams were successful, going 25–11–1 in Cameron's four seasons as head coach, highlighted by an 8–1 1943 season.[11] Cameron's 1944 team won the Sugar Bowl, beating Alabama 29–26.[6][11] Cameron would go on to serve as Duke's athletic director from 1951–1972,[11] and for his service to the athletics program and the university as a whole, Duke named their basketball arena after him, Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the Blue Devils basketball teams still play their home games today.[11]

Bill Murray era (1951–1965)

The football program also proved successful in the 1950s and 1960s, winning six of the first ten ACC football championships from 1953 to 1962 under coach Bill Murray.[12][13] From 1943 until 1957, the Blue Devils were ranked in the AP Poll at some point in the season.[14]

Murray's Duke teams would be last successes the Blue Devils football program would have for another two decades. Bill Murray would be the last Duke head football coach to leave the Blue Devils with a winning record until Steve Spurrier,[14] and the last to leave Duke after having won multiple conference championships.[14] After Murray's retirement following the 1965 season, Duke's football program would steadily decline into becoming the ACC's "cellar-dweller".[14] Murray led Duke to its last bowl appearance and conference championships, shared or outright, until 1989.[14] Murray's final record at Duke was 91–51–9.[13][14]

Tom Harp era (1966–1970)

After Murray came Tom Harp, who had a 22–28–1 record in 5 seasons with the Blue Devils.[15] A very successful high school coach, Harp came to Duke after a mediocre stint as Cornell's head football coach.[16] Harp's teams struggled on the field, only producing one winning season, a 6–5 1970 season that would be Harp's last at Duke,[15] as he was fired following the season.[17]

Mike McGee era (1971–1978)

Mike McGee returned to his alma mater to serve as head football coach in late 1970.[18] Duke continued in the mediocrity and sub-par on-the-field performances that had been seen under Harp, going 37–47–4 overall.[19] McGee's two best years were 1971 and 1974, in which his Duke teams went a mediocre 6–5.[19] McGee was replaced after the 1978 season.[20]

Shirley Wilson era (1979–1982)

Shirley "Red" Wilson replaced McGee[21] and went 16–27–1 as Duke's head football coach.[22] Wilson's teams only won two games in his first two seasons, then had back-to-back 6–5 seasons.[22] Wilson's tenure would be a sign of things to come for the Blue Devils football program, as the program continued to slide on a downward track.

Steve Sloan era (1983–1986)

There was hope when Steve Sloan was hired that the Duke football program would finally return to its glory days under Wallace Wade. Sloan had winning records as the head football coach at both Vanderbilt and Texas Tech, two programs that had struggled prior to his arrival.[23] However, Sloan could not translate his successes from those places to Duke. Sloan's Blue Devils teams had a 13–31 overall record in the four seasons he was there,[23] failing to win more than four games in a single season. Sloan resigned after four seasons.[23]

Steve Spurrier era (1987–1989)

The Duke Blue Devils football program had a string of successful years in the late 1980s when the team was coached by Steve Spurrier. Duke was Spurrier's first head coaching position.[24] When Spurrier arrived as Duke's 17th head football coach in program history, he inherited a Duke program that was commonly viewed as the worst football program in the ACC.[25] The Duke football program had not been to a bowl game in more than a quarter-century, since 1960.[25]

Unlike most of his predecessors since Wallace Wade, Spurrier was able to have success as Duke's head football coach. Spurrier led the Blue Devils to a share of the ACC title in 1989,[24] its first ACC football title of any kind, shared or outright, since the Bill Murray era.[25] Spurrier won ACC Coach of the Year honors in 1988 and 1989 for his achievements.[25][24] He led Duke to the 1989 All-American Bowl, a game they lost 49–21 to Texas Tech.[25] That bowl appearance was the program's first bowl appearance since the 1960 Cotton Bowl.[25]

After three seasons and a 20–13–1 overall record,[23] and leading the Blue Devils to seemingly unheard of football success, Spurrier left Duke to accept the head football coach position at his alma mater Florida.[26] Spurrier is the last head football coach to leave Duke with a winning record overall.[25] The 1989 ACC Title was the last title, shared or outright, won not only by Duke, but also by any school in the state of North Carolina until Wake Forest won their second ACC Title in 2006.[27]

Barry Wilson era (1990–1993)

Barry Wilson took over the Blue Devils football program after the departure of Spurrier,[28] but struggled with a 13–30–1 record in four seasons despite inheriting a team that had shared an ACC championship the season before he got there.[29] Unable to duplicate or build upon the successes of his predecessor, Wilson resigned as head coach after the 1993 season.[30]

Fred Goldsmith era (1994–1998)

The team rose to prominence again in 1994, the first season under head coach Fred Goldsmith. The team raced out to an 8–1 record, and was briefly ranked as high as #13 in the country before losing the last two heart-breaking games of the season 24–23 to North Carolina State and 41–40 to arch-rival North Carolina by missing two extra-point attempts.[31] The 1994 team played in the program's first New Years Day Bowl game since 1962, falling to Wisconsin 34-21 in the Hall Of Fame Bowl,[31] later known as the Outback Bowl. After 1994, however, Duke's football program continued to decline, with the team lacking a winning season the remainder of Goldsmith's tenure.[32] Goldsmith's teams struggled after that 1994 season, failing to win more than four games in a single season.[32] His 1996 Duke team went 0–11.[32] Goldsmith was fired after the 1998 season with a 17–39 overall record as head coach of the Blue Devils.[33][32]

Carl Franks era (1999–2003)

From 1999 to 2007, Duke's football win-loss record was at 13–90;[34] from 2000 to 2001 Duke suffered a 22-game losing streak.[35][36] Carl Franks, a Florida assistant under former Blue Devils head coach Steve Spurrier, was brought in to replace Fred Goldsmith and turn around the Duke football program.[37] He failed to do so. After going 7–45 in four full seasons and part of a fifth,[36] Franks was fired and replaced by his defensive coordinator Ted Roof.[38]

Ted Roof era (2003–2007)

Roof was named interim head coach for the final five games of the 2003 season.[38] The Blue Devils won two of their last three games of the season, and Roof's interim tag was removed and he was named the program's 21st head football coach.[38] Roof's good times did not last, as he also struggled mightility as Duke's head coach, going a dismal 6–45 before his firing after four seasons and the partial fifth he finished for Franks.[39] One positive aspect, however, from Roof's tenure was that Duke defenses consistently ranked in the top 30 in tackles for loss for the first time in years.[39] Roof would go on to win a national championship as Auburn's defensive coordinator in 2010 under head coach Gene Chizik.[40]

David Cutcliffe era (2008–present)

Tennessee offensive coordinator and former Ole Miss head coach David Cutcliffe was hired as Duke's 22nd all-time head football coach to lead the Blue Devils football program in late 2007.[41] Cutcliffe had a reputation for being an outstanding offensive mind and quarterbacks coach, as he had helped develop both Peyton and Eli Manning.[42] In 2008, a judge ruled in favor of Duke after they pulled out of a four-game contract with the University of Louisville; the judge stated that it was up to Louisville to find a suitable replacement as, he wrote in the ruling, Duke's lawyers had persuasively argued that any Division I team would be equivalent or better.[34] Duke went 4–8 in 2008 and Duke's 2009 season was a 5–7 campaign, the closest the school had come to bowl eligibility since 1994.[43] Cutcliffe's Duke teams had back-to-back 3-9 seasons in 2010 and 2011. Duke's 2012 team, despite low preseason expectations, after a 33–30 win against rival North Carolina became bowl eligible for the first time since 1994.[44] Extending its season to December 27, 2012, Duke fell to Cincinnati 48–34 in a close contest in the Belk Bowl, finishing the season with a 6–7 record.[45]

Duke's 2013 season was a break-out year for the team, as the Blue Devils have continued to cross off many of their infamous losing streaks. On October 26, 2013, Duke achieved its first win over a ranked team since 1994 with a 13–10 victory over #14 Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, VA, a rarity for the Duke football program.[46] That win over Virginia Tech was also Duke's first road win over a ranked team since 1971.[47] Following a bye week, on November 9, 2013 the Blue Devils achieved their first winning season since 1994 with a 38–20 home victory over in-state rival NC State,[48] their seventh of the season. Extending its winning streak to 6 straight by defeating #24 Miami 48–30 on November 16, 2013, Duke appeared in the AP Poll for the first time since 1994, listed at #25 with a record of 8–2.[49] With a win at Wake Forest on November 23, 2013, Duke claimed its ninth victory in a regular season for the first time since 1941, the season in which the Blue Devils hosted the Rose Bowl. The win also gave Duke at least a share of the Coastal Division title and a #24 AP Poll ranking.[50] With a 27–25 win over North Carolina on November 30, 2013, Duke locked up their first 10-win season in school history, the Coastal Division title, and a spot in the 2013 ACC Championship Game against Florida State, during which time Duke was ranked #20. David Cutcliffe received the Walter Camp Coach of the Year award in 2013.[51] The Blue Devils were invited to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, where they lost another close, hard-fought game 52–48 to Texas A&M to finish the season with a record of 10–4.[52]

Cutcliffe's success at Duke has placed him as a candidate in several coaching searches, including at Michigan [53] and Louisville.[54]

Academic achievements

Duke is consistently ranked at or near the top of the list of Division I-A schools which graduate nearly all of their football players. Duke has topped the list 12 years in a row, earning it the most Academic Achievement Awards of any university.[55]

Duke in the polls

Year Final AP Poll Final Coaches Poll
1936 #11
1937 #20
1938 #3
1939 #8
1940 #18
1941 #2
1943 #7
1944 #11
1945 #13
1947 #19
1952 #16 #18
1953 #18 #18
1954 #14 #14
1955 #16
1956 #20
1957 #16 #14
1960 #10 #11
1961 #20 #14
1962 #14
2013 #23 #22

Since 1962, Duke has only appeared in the polls during 1971, 1989, 1994, 2013 and 2014. The only time Duke has ever been ranked by the BCS was 2013; it was ranked #24 in the final BCS standings that year. However, Duke had been ranked in the CFP when the CFP Rankings replaced the BCS rankings. They were ranked in the CFP during the very first year the CFP replaced the BCS. They finished the season unranked, but earlier in the 2014 Duke Blue Devils football team season, they were ranked in the CFP for 3 straight weeks, the first week, they were #24. The second week, they were ranked #22. The third week, they were ranked #21. The fourth week, they dropped from the CFP rankings, because they lost to unranked Virginia Tech.

Duke has never been ranked #1 in the AP or Coaches polls.

Conference affiliations

Independent (1889–1894, 1920–1929)

Southern Conference (1930–1952)

Atlantic Coast Conference (1953–present) (charter member)

Conference championships

Southern Conference: 1933, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1952

Atlantic Coast Conference: 1953*, 1954, 1955*, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1989*

ACC Coastal Division Champions: 2013

* denotes co-champions

Bowl games

Date Bowl W/L Opponent PF PA Notes
1939 Rose Bowl L Southern California 3 7
1942 Rose Bowl L Oregon State 16 20
Game played in Durham due to WWII
1945 Sugar Bowl W Alabama 29 26
1955 Orange Bowl W Nebraska 34 7
1958 Orange Bowl L Oklahoma 21 48
1961 Cotton Bowl Classic W Arkansas 7 6
1989 All American Bowl L Texas Tech 21 49
1995 Hall of Fame Bowl L Wisconsin 20 34
2012 Belk Bowl L Cincinnati 34 48
2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl L Texas A&M 48 52
2014 Sun Bowl L Arizona State 31 36
Total 11 bowl games 3–8

Rivalry games

North Carolina

The Blue Devils traditional all-sport rivalry is with the North Carolina Tar Heels and is called the Duke-Carolina rivalry. In football, the teams fight for the Victory Bell each year. The series is 58–36–4 in favor of North Carolina. The trophy series is 40–21–1 in favor of North Carolina.

Wake Forest

Duke maintains a Tobacco Road rivalry with Wake Forest. The series is 54–37–2 in favor of Duke.

North Carolina State

Duke maintains a Research Triangle rivalry with NC State. The series with NC State is 40–36–5 in favor of Duke.


Duke maintains a rivialry with Virginia. The series with UVA is tied 33–33.[56]


Outland Trophy

Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award

Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award

Southern Conference Coach of the Year

ACC Coach of the Year

ACC Player of the Year

ACC Rookie of the Year

College Football Hall of Fame

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Consensus All-Americans

Future non-conference opponents

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
vs Northwestern vs N.C. Central vs Baylor vs Army vs Tulane vs Middle Tennessee vs Notre Dame
at Tulane at Northwestern at Army at Northwestern at Middle Tennessee Notre Dame
at Army at Notre Dame vs Northwestern at Baylor at Notre Dame
vs North Carolina Central vs Army vs N.C. Central



  1. ^ Colleges – Pro Football Hall of Fame. Pro Football Hall of Fame, 2007. Retrieved on June 12, 2007.
  2. ^ "Champions of the South regardless of conference affiliation". 
  3. ^ Jim L. Sumner (1990). "John Franklin Crowell, Methodism, and the Football Controversy at Trinity College, 1887-1894" (PDF). Journal of Sport History 17 (1). 
  4. ^ "Trinity College To Have Football Season". Winstom-Salem Journal. July 25, 1920. 
  5. ^ "Alabama-Tennessee: A Southern Tradition". October 23, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jonathan Fravel. "Alabama Legend: How Did Wallace Wade End Up at Duke?". Bleacher Report. 
  7. ^ a b "Wallace Wade". College Football at 
  8. ^ "Frederick A. "Fred" Crawford". 
  9. ^ Theresa Jensen Lacey (2002). Amazing North Carolina. p. 79. 
  10. ^ "Scouts Line Up Stars On Grid Fronts". The Evening Independent. October 25, 1933. 
  11. ^ a b c d e "Edmund M.". 
  12. ^ Duke Blue Devils. Retrieved on June 12, 2007.
  13. ^ a b "Bill Murray". College Football at 
  14. ^ a b c d e f "William D.". 
  15. ^ a b "Tom Harp". College Football at 
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  17. ^ "Herald-Journal - Google News Archive Search". 
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  19. ^ a b "Mike McGee". College Football at 
  20. ^ "The Dispatch - Google News Archive Search". 
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  22. ^ a b "Red Wilson". College Football at 
  23. ^ a b c d "Steve Sloan". College Football at 
  24. ^ a b c "Steve Spurrier". College Football at 
  25. ^ a b c d e f g
  26. ^ "Arnsparger Confirms Spurrier Hiring". tribunedigital-sunsentinel. 
  27. ^ "Why are North Carolina’s ACC football teams so bad?". Before It's News - Alternative News - UFO - Beyond Science - True News- Prophecy News - People Powered News. 
  28. ^ "Duke coach Wilson learns there's no place to hide". tribunedigital-baltimoresun. 
  29. ^ "Barry Wilson". College Football at 
  30. ^ "Losses Mount, Duke Coach Quits". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. 
  31. ^ a b "1994 Duke Blue Devils". College Football at 
  32. ^ a b c d "Fred Goldsmith". College Football at 
  33. ^ "Williams Gets Big Award". latimes. 
  34. ^ a b "ESPN". 
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  36. ^ a b "Carl Franks". College Football at 
  37. ^ "Duke Hires Gators Asst. Franks". 2 December 1998. 
  38. ^ a b c "Duke hires Roof as football coach after 5-game test". philly-archives. 
  39. ^ a b "ESPN". 
  40. ^ "Ted Roof Bio - - Official Athletics Site of the Auburn Tigers". 
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^ Duke looks to rebound
  44. ^ [1]
  45. ^ "Cincinnati Bearcats vs Duke Blue Devils - Recap". 
  46. ^ "Duke Blue Devils vs Virginia Tech Hokies - Recap". 
  47. ^ "Record-setting day leads to historic win for Duke football". The Duke Chronicle. 
  48. ^ "NC State Wolfpack vs Duke Blue Devils - Recap". 
  49. ^ "The AP Top 25 Poll". College Football. 
  50. ^ "The AP Top 25 Poll". College Football. 
  51. ^ "Cutcliffe Named National Coach of the Year". 
  52. ^ "Duke Blue Devils vs Texas A&M Aggies - Recap". 
  53. ^ "Michigan Football Coaching Candidates: Cutcliffe, Miles, Harbaugh Get Calls, But Has the Real Search Begun?". University Herald. 
  54. ^ "Duke head coach David Cutcliffe was contacted by Louisville". BlueDevilLair. 
  55. ^ SMU Receives 2006 AFCA Academic Achievement Award. American Football Coaches Association. 2006.
  56. ^ Alls, Terrence; Singleton, Deondre. "Duke and Virginia". 
  57. ^ "Duke Blue Devils Football Schedules and Future Schedules". Retrieved 2013-03-20. 

External links