DURHAM – Former Duke coach Steve Spurrier was back in Durham on Satursday to celebrate the Blue Devils’ 1989 ACC title team.
Spurrier, now the coach at South Carolina, had his first college head coaching job at Duke in 1987. He finished 20-13-1 as the coach of the Blue Devils and said he owes all of his success to his six combined years as an assistant and head coach for the Blue Devils.
“Whatever coach I became, I learned everything at Duke University,” Spurrier said. “It’s fun to come back here with the 1989 team.”
Duke started the 1989 season 1-3 and lost its first ACC game to Virginia. The whole season turned when then-No. 7 Clemson came to Durham in late September.
The Blue Devils overcame a 14-0 halftime deficit to beat the Tigers, and Spurrier said the game was a major milestone for his team. Duke didn’t lose a game the rest of the way and finished the regular season ranked No. 20 by the AP with an 8-3 record.
The Blue Devils also claimed a share of the ACC crown with a 6-1 conference record. Duke lost to Texas Tech in the All-American Bowl and Spurrier left to coach at Florida, his alma mater.
The coach admitted it is challenging to win at Duke, but gave credit to current coach David Cutcliffe for returning the program to its potential.
“It’s not the easiest place to win here at Duke, but it is what it is,” Spurrier said. “I always appreciate (former athletics director) Tom Butters who used to always say, 'If we can win in all the other sports, why can’t we win in football?’
“You can win at football here, and coach Cutcliffe is certainly doing it now.”
Josh Walfish can be reached at 407-9952 or firstname.lastname@example.org