Duke baseball following football's lead
Posted May 13, 2014
When head baseball coach Chris Pollard began the daunting task of turning Duke's program around, he didn't have to look far to find inspiration.
"I've told Coach Cutcliffe he's laid a blueprint down for us that we can follow," said Pollard. "Every opportunity I can, I pick his brain."
Duke's newfound success in football has been a measuring stick for Pollard's baseball program. And just like the gridiron guys, Duke's diamond Devils are reaching new heights as well – their best season in 20 years.
"Coach Pollard always brought up a lot of Duke football, and Coach Cutcliffe's sayings that he's been telling his team lately," said pitcher Robert Huber.
"Yeah, I think we all took a little bit of inspiration from the football team, seeing them crack the top 25 this year and have a lot of success," said pitcher Drew Van Orden.
The parallels are hard to miss. Before their recent run, Duke's last winning season in football was in 1994, and their last bowl win came back in 1961. That's eerily similar to the baseball team, whose last winning season in-conference was also in '94 and their last NCAA Tournament bid also in 1961.
"A lot of times, I would come in to our fall practices, and I would say 'Hey, did you see that football game? You know, did you see what happened there?'," said Pollard.
"The culture of Duke is really getting exciting right now around campus for teams that generally struggle. They're turning it around," said Huber.
For both teams, success was a long time coming and now Duke's baseball program is following the football team's lead.