By Jim Sumner

David Cutcliffe is starting his 10th season as head coach at Duke, his 16th season as a head coach, his 35th season as a college coach.

In other words, as he is fond of saying, this isn’t his first rodeo.

The man has learned some things.

One of those things is the value of his assistants.

“A huge part of success (in college football) will always be assistant football coaches,” he says. “The quality of the people, the quality of their skills, that’s personally how I think you win.”

Two assistants have been with Cutcliffe his entire Duke tenure. In fact, Derek Jones and Zac Roper worked with Cutcliffe long before Duke was a twinkle in his eye.

Jones played defensive back at Mississippi in the middle 1990s, when Cutcliffe was an assistant at Tennessee. But after playing in the CFL, Jones turned down law school for coaching, went back to his alma mater and eventually served there as a graduate assistant under Cutcliffe, before leaving for Murray State.

Jones was an assistant at Memphis when Cutcliffe approached him about joining him at Duke.

“I had a long history with Cut,” Jones says. “I knew Coach Cut and the people he was putting together.

Read more…