In search of six victories - Duke set to open with Richmond




DURHAM- December 15, 2007 was the day that Duke University football named David Cutcliffe the 21ST Head Coach in school history. It was also the day I began to set aside loose change as a way to prepare for a special journey.

I grew up as big of a Duke fan as there was and as I face my 46TH birthday this week that means I was a fan before it was cool to Love or Hate Duke University. Duke was simply a special place back in the 70's, one where I had hoped to attend college someday. Never made it into a single class but I did live in that unique part of Durham, North Carolina for a year and soaked up all of the magic that I could.

Duke basketball was about to go through its last run to the Final Four pre-Coach K back in the late 70's. Jimmy Spanarkle was a junior guard on a team that made it to St.Louis for the Final Four and won the semi-final game before falling to Kentucky in the Championship by a 94-88 score. Jack "Goose" Givens poured in 41 points to lead Joe B. Hall's Wildcats to the title that night (March 27,1978) in the Checkerdome.

But it was more than basketball for me, it was Duke University and that means you love all things Duke, not just the ones that shine the brightest. Yes, I have been a fan of Duke University
football my entire life. I can proudly say that I have attended EVERY Bowl Game that the Blue Devils have participated in during this span. Yes- that does mean both of them.

Steve Spurrier guided Duke to an 8-3 record back in 1989 and that earned the Blue Devils a trip down to Birmingham, Alabama for the All-American Bowl. The opponent that night was a rather large Texas Tech squad that also finished 8-3 but did so playing a much tougher schedule.

Mark Brace and I drove down to Alabama that night at watched TT (James Gray-280 yards & 4 TD's) run up and down the field for a 49-21 victory in what would prove to be the last game coached at Duke by Mr. Spurrier. Steve packed up and headed down to Florida after the loss but he had put the program back on the map or so we thought.

Fast forward to 1994 and Head Coach Fred Goldsmith opens the season with 7 straight victories before heading to Florida State for a showdown. 7-0 went by the boards that day when FSU defeated Duke 59-20 but we were still heading to a Bowl Game at the end of the season. Back to back 1 point losses to NCSU and UNC at the end left the team at 8-3 but on their way to Tampa, Florida for a New Years Day Bowl (Actually played Jan.2,1995) against a talented Wisconsin team.

I was working in Florence, South Carolina at the time so the drive down to Tampa wasn't that bad of a trip and Duke hung tough before falling 34-20 to the Badgers that day. Duke cut the lead to 27-20 late before Wisconsin sealed the deal with a late touchdown. Bob Muffett and I headed back to Florence and I figured in a few years I would be able to make another Bowl Game trek to follow the Blue Devils.

It has now been almost 15 years since that trip to Tampa and I can't wait for the next journey. One that I have been saving up for since the day Cutcliffe left the staff at Tennessee to lead our Blue Devils!

Don't care which post season bowl game or which city will be the host- just want to see it happen once again. Duke was 4-3 last season with five games to play but failed to win again despite playing Va. Tech tough (14-3) and Wake Forrest (33-30) tough down the stretch.

Duke opens play in 72 hours at home against the University of Richmond. The Spiders are a 1-AA school but they happen to be the 1-AA defending National Champions. Six wins earns you a possible trip to a Bowl Game and the bags are packed!

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