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Former Tennessee Coordinator Inducted Into Greater Knoxville Sports Hall Of Fame

Photo via Chattanooga Times Free Press

Former Tennessee offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe was inducted into the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame, Tuesday night at the Knoxville Convention Center.

The 40th Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame honored Cutcliffe as well as seven other Knoxville icons.

Cutcliffe was an assistant football coach at Tennessee from 1982-98 and a second stint from 2006-07. The Birmingham, Alabama native served as the Vols’ offensive coordinator from 1993-98 and 2006-07.

In his 90s run at Tennessee, Cutcliffe served as quarterback’s coach for Heisman Trophy runner ups Peyton Manning and Heath Shuler. With Fulmer and high level quarterbacks, Cutcliffe was an integral part of the best stretch of modern Tennessee football.

“David is like a brother to me,” former Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer said at Tuesday’s ceremony. “David gave his all every day for Tennessee football to be successful. It’s great to see him be honored into the Hall of Fame tonight. From the moment we met as young 20 something men to today we remain great friends. We’ve worked side-by-side and started families, laughed, cried, argued and celebrated together. He was a great football coach and is a great football coach. He’s the best darn quarterback coach in America. That’s proven by his track record, and he’s a great man, father and husband and I’m just really glad to see him inducted.”

Cutcliffe left Tennessee following the 1998 SEC Championship game to become the head coach at Ole Miss. Under Cutcliffe, the Rebels went 44-29 in six seasons. Ole Miss fired Cutcliffe following the head coach’s first losing season in 2004.

Cutcliffe then returned to Knoxville to be Tennessee’s offensive coordinator for two seasons helping resurrect the Vols’ offense following the 2005 season.

The now 66-year old’s ability to develop quarterbacks has always been imminent and led former Tennessee quarterback and Tuesday’s guest speaker Peyton Manning back to Cutcliffe each offseason. 

“Kind of like a golfer going back to his old swing coach, I used to go back to see coach Cutcliffe even when I was in my 10th, 15th and 18th years in the NFL,” Manning said. “He would coach me like I was an 18-year old freshman again. It was exactly what I needed at that point. Working on the most basic fundamentals of playing quarterback. How do you take a snap. How do you call a play in the huddle with some presence. You may ask ‘why would an 18-year veteran need to go learn how to take a snap again’ and as he (Cutcliffe) would say, the little things matter. It was just a big help to me throughout my career.”

Cutcliffe left Tennessee again following the 2007 season to become the head coach at Duke. The former Tennessee coordinator has become the best football coach in Duke history as he enters his 13th season as head coach.

In total, Cutcliffe has posted a 74-88 record as the Blue Devils’ head coach.

Former All-American track and field athlete Heather Sumpter Blakemore and voice of the Lady Vols’ Mickey Dearstone were the two other Vols in the 2021 Hall of Fame class.

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