David Cutcliffe’s coaching career started as a student assistant for Bear Bryant in the 1970s, and now he’s reining national coach of the year after an 10-4 season at Duke.
Cutcliffe has been in the coaching business for a long time, but says he hasn’t reached his peak.
On former Tennessee defensive coordinator Doug Mathews’ radio show on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville, Cutcliffe shared lessons learned from the business, and how things are changing for the worse in some situations.
“The best part of what I’ve done, people ask me, ‘What makes you successful?’ is to never quit learning,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate. We were around a lot of great people. We had a lot of good mentors. I think we all mentored each other well. We learned from each other. I just never quit learning. I’m still not as good as I’m going to be. I know that. I haven’t hit my peak, yet.”
Cutcliffe has been known as an offensive specialist, with Peyton Manning being his most famous pupil, but Cutcliffe emphasized that young coaches need to work multiple jobs, multiple positions to get a better understanding.
“Before coming to Tennessee, I was the head coach at Banks (High School in Alabama), which was a very good program and school, and I was my own offensive, defensive and special teams coordinator. You kind of did it all. You painted the field and cut the field. I learned something about growing grass, fertilizing. All those things contribute to being successful. I loved learning. Coach (Johnny) Majors would say, ‘Who wants to have punt team?’ I coached punt team. I coached kickoff return. I coached everything I could get my hands on. I suggest that to young coaches.”