Duke's Cutcliffe names 7 assistant coaches

January 4, 2008 3:00:30 PM PST
David Cutcliffe's first staff at Duke will have a Mississippi feel.

Five of the seven assistant coaches introduced Friday by the first-year Blue Devils coach worked for him during his six-plus seasons at Ole Miss, including offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and associate head coach Ron Middleton.

"This is my second rodeo," Cutcliffe said. "I'm close, close, close friends with many of them, but that wasn't the criteria I wanted to use. There were two in particular -- integrity and character, being the right kind of people."

Offensive line coach and run game coordinator Matt Luke, defensive backs coach Derek Jones and recruiting coordinator and running backs coach Zac Roper, Kurt Roper's younger brother, also were part of the Ole Miss program that under Cutcliffe went 44-29 from 1999-2004 and shared the SEC West title with LSU in 2003.

They will be joined by two coaches with significant Duke ties: linebackers coach Jim Collins, who is back for his third stint with the Blue Devils, and receivers coach Scottie Montgomery, the only holdover from fired coach Ted Roof's staff.

"I understand what he wants to accomplish, whether it's offensively or whether it's with things within the program, how he wants kids to be," Kurt Roper said.

Kurt Roper and Luke both spent the past two seasons at Tennessee, where Cutcliffe was the offensive coordinator.

"I was at a great place, Tennessee, learned a lot from coach (Phillip) Fulmer, but having a chance to get a promotion and coach the offensive line ... that's my first love," said Luke, a former Ole Miss lineman.

Middleton, a former NFL assistant with Tampa Bay, came to Duke after one season coaching tight ends and special teams at Alabama. Zac Roper came to Duke after three seasons at Cornell, Jones spent last season coaching cornerbacks at Memphis and Collins is a longtime assistant to ex-Duke coach Steve Spurrier who most recently was Marshall's defensive coordinator before resigning in 2006.

"We bring in people that I have great confidence in because I've worked with them before," Cutcliffe said. "They're proven winners, they're motivators, they're teachers of fundamentals."

Cutcliffe, who earlier this week named former New York Jets assistant Mike MacIntyre as his defensive coordinator, said he has one position remaining on his defensive staff.


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