Durham, N.C. — The annual Duke-Carolina football game was overshadowed Saturday by rumors this may be Blue Devils coach Ted Roof's last game.
With only six wins in four-plus seasons at Duke, some folks are saying it is time for a change. A tough overtime loss Saturday – as the Tar Heels beat Duke 20-14 – didn't help matters.
“I think they need to give him another chance. You know maybe next year will be a better year,” Duke fan Bryan Ayers said.
Duke players had a unified message when asked about their coach.
“I think it would be an injustice to all the players if they let coach Roof go,” defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase said.
“Coach Roof has always been there for us. His family, always taking us in on the holidays when we're not able to go home because of schedules and things like that,” free safety Chris Davis said.
Coach Roof said hearing that his players support him is what it's all about.
“It makes you feel good that your players believe in you and respect you,” he said.
Bill Brill has been a Duke fan for more than 50 years. For more than a decade, he has written a column in the Blue Devil Weekly.
“I don't think you give your fans any real idea of hope when you're going to have a new program, and you don't change coaches,” Brill said.
Despite the poor record, some fans said Roof was still a winner to them.
“We think he's maximized the program as much as he can, given the resources. He has definitely, significantly upgraded the recruiting. Given the program's financial capabilities, he has done what he can,” Duke fan Will Lang said.
Roof said he hopes to continue building the Duke football program.
If you liken the college football season to a semester of academic work, Roof's first 11 games represent 70 percent of his grade. But the Duke-Carolina game is both the final exam and extra credit.
If the Blue Devils had won Saturday, Roof could have received passing marks and returned for another year. Instead, his team's inspired effort fell short.
Roof has one year remaining on his contract, but his teams have lost 45 of 51 games.
Although this squad made progress on offense and played more competitively than last year, Duke still finished 1-11 – again going 0-8 in the ACC.
Roof is scheduled to meet with Duke athletics director Joe Alleva within the next couple of days to talk about his future with the team.