Disgrace of Durham
Minutes after he had announced the firing of former Duke head coach
But when a reporter asked Alleva why a top-notch candidate would come to Duke, a school whose most famous bowl game is the Rose Bowl it hosted in 1942, the athletics director offered a coy answer. "It's Duke University," Alleva said.
For that comment, Alleva was lambasted in print by local media outlets, including the independent student newspaper. The immediate backlash was fitting; after all, the only thing this program has won the last three seasons, besides two measly games, is the country's highest graduation rate. Apparently, the nerds haven't yet gotten their revenge. Alleva's response may be valid for a basketball coaching search when -- gasp! --
Alleva's reply, though, was more prescient than preposterous, not because of Duke's paltry football history, but because of its recent trend of bucking the same tradition to which Alleva referred.
As the coaching carousel makes its annual turn around the country, football programs with rich legacies and richer boosters grab the nation's unyielding attention. But even compared to prominent vacancies such as Michigan and Nebraska, the open coaching position at Duke may be the most intriguing in the country, precisely because it has such a forgettable history.
The next coach won't be responsible for not fumbling the tradition, because he doesn't even have the ball yet. More than anything, he will be charged with building a program from scratch.
And even though it sounds like a hopelessly miserable task, Duke's head coaching position should, and will, attract interest from top-notch candidates. Next season's leader of the Blue Devils -- the most-rumored name right now is Navy head coach
If the rumors are true, Duke plans to lessen its stringent academic standards, a restriction that has hampered recruiting in Roof and former head coach
After Duke's 0-11 season last year, the school's athletics department, in conjunction with the football program, commissioned a football-specific strategic plan that it believes to be the most comprehensive single-sport analysis ever crafted. When it is formally presented to the school's Board of Trustees early in the calendar year, the business plan -- drafted by
It is also likely that the school will approve a plan to renovate Wallace Wade Stadium, the conference's most depressing stadium. The measures include adding luxury suites and an external scoreboard to the pit that is Wally Wade. And speaking of hemorrhaging money, that's exactly what Alleva pledged he will do to bring the best available coach to Duke.
Of course, there is also that romantically enchanting idea of building a program that has not been able to win since
And it can be done. Duke can, and looks poised to, entice one of the big names, and perhaps that man will convert this perennial loser into a respected winner.
Revenge of the nerds, indeed.