David Cutcliffe: "Kind of Like Being in a Game Right Now"


Coach David Cutcliffe appeared on Duke Football’s All 22 podcast this week and discussed how he and the team are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duke got in three practices in its spring session before the team left for spring break. They never returned, as all athletic activities were suspended.

“It was unique to say the least,” Cutcliffe said. “My initial reaction was getting the players back. It went to—in my mind—that our players would be better off under our care and together. Whether we could practice or not, we could still have them. Things rapidly started to change.”

Cutcliffe made sure to reach out to the team through Duke football’s group messaging app. “I knew communication was critical,” he said.

He also began to plan out a way to approach the situation, but that work was in vain.

“I kept calling Dean Sue Wasiolek, and she finally syid, ‘Coach, I’m in these meetings, and if you can just wait a day or so, most of these decisions are going to be made for you.’ These weren’t my decisions to make,” he said.

He spent Duke’s spring break at home.

“It was as consuming and tiring a week as I’ve had,” he said. “There was nothing spring breakish about it. I was working 16 hours a day to stay ahead of the curve.”

Once the situation became clearer, Cutcliffe was able to attack it.

“I’m set up (at home) with video capabilities. I have a projector, Zoom. My day has been really busy.”

Cutcliffe used the day he recorded the podcast as an example of his routine. He started by getting up at 6:00 AM to go shopping.

“The grocery store opens early for seniors,” he said. “I got there at six and the parking lot is filled. I looked around, and I’m the youngest guy here. They were the slowest moving shopping carts you’ve seen in your life.”

Then he got home and got to work.

“We had a staff meeting to review the run game,” he said. “We’ve had recruiting meetings on both sides of the ball, full staff meetings. I’m in constant communication with the medical people, equipment room, training staff.”

Then there are the future Blue Devils.

“Recruiting doesn’t stop,” he said. “Because of Zoom and virtual meetings, you find yourself doing more. (If we were in person) I’d be spending the entire time with the staff on football. Now we’re multitasking. The are advantages in that. I’m talking face-to-face with prospects and their parents via Zoom.”

He’s also exercising—claiming he lost wait since the shut-in began, although he admits to splurging on ice cream. He’s also been playing cards with his family.

While many people around the world are stressed out by how the pandemic has changed life, Cutcliffe feels like he’s thriving in the uncertain times.

“I like it. It’s kind of like being in a game right now,” he said, “having to make decisions and go like crazy to make it be the right decision. I like the intensity of it.”