Duke's Cutcliffe prepares for reunion with Weis
Sep. 09, 2014
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — David Cutcliffe is getting ready to coach against a man he never really got the chance to work with — Charlie Weis.
Cutcliffe spent only a few months on Weis' first staff at Notre Dame in 2005 and resigned without ever coaching a game there because he had complications following open heart surgery.
The two-time Atlantic Coast Conference coach of the year at Duke said Tuesday that his decision to leave Weis and the Fighting Irish was "one of the toughest things I've had to do, by far, in the business."
The two will be on opposite sidelines Saturday when Cutcliffe leads the Blue Devils (2-0) against Kansas (1-0) in a nonconference game scheduled long before Weis took over the Jayhawks in 2011.
The coaches at these basketball-first schools are at different stages of their rebuilding projects, with Cutcliffe digging Duke out of a decade-long string of futility and guiding the Blue Devils to their first ACC Coastal Division title last year and the first back-to-back bowls in school history.
"What he's done there is what I would expect him to do anywhere," Weis said.
Weis is 5-20 in his third year at Kansas, which is coming off a season-opening win over Southeast Missouri State and is looking for its third victory over a Bowl Subdivision team under his leadership.
Even though Weis said Tuesday that he has not followed Cutcliffe's career — "not one bit," he said — the Duke coach heaped praise upon his brief boss.
"This team looks like a Charlie Weis team," he said, "for obvious reasons."
Cutcliffe only got a brief glimpse of what one of Weis' best teams looked like.
He had just been fired after six years at Mississippi following the 2004 season and Weis — hired by Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White to replace Tyrone Willingham — brought him in the following January as his assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach.
"I was looking for somebody that I could eventually just turn the offense over to, and I thought David was one of the best minds out there," Weis said. "Not only was he well-schooled with the quarterback position ... I thought he'd be a perfect type of person to hand over the offense to, because of his mind and his ability as an offensive play caller."
They never got that far.
Cutcliffe had triple heart bypass surgery back in Mississippi in March 2005, took an immediate medical leave from Notre Dame and resigned that June because his recovery was taking longer than expected.
"I told him there was no way I was going to be able to earn my money," Cutcliffe said, adding that Weis encouraged him to wait instead of rushing into the decision.
In an ironic twist, the man Weis brought in to fill that staff vacancy — quarterbacks coach Peter Vaas — helped guide the Irish to two BCS bowls in two years before winding up at Duke in 2006.
His two-year run as the Blue Devils' offensive coordinator and QBs coach ended when Cutcliffe took over following the 2007 season and brought in his own staff.
And coincidentally, White left Notre Dame in the summer of 2008 to take over at Duke.
He "obviously is the one who hired him at Notre Dame, and he obviously knows the qualities of Charlie Weis that make him so successful," Cutcliffe said. "I know (Weis has) got those big ol' Super Bowl rings (with the New England Patriots). ... I'm not big enough to carry one of those around."
AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta in Lawrence, Kansas, contributed to this report.
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