David Cutcliffe's lesson to players: Mentors are more important than anything

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Sunday April 17, 2016




David Cutcliffe is one of the most experienced coaches in the country, but he still looks back on what he learned from mentors — and looks forward.

Cutcliffe played for Bear Bryant at Alabama and started coaching in 1976. Along the way, he made sure to learn from people he’s worked with, and he emphasizes that with his players.

"Obviously, I'm in the business of working with young men. I tell them all the time as they leave college and head into the working world: The mentors are far more important than the job itself," he said on The David Glenn Show in 2013. "The willingness to learn and do whatever it takes, choose great mentors. I know I am a great product, as is Coach Krzyzewski, of great families. Our mentors, our coaches.

"It was an incredible experience for me to be around Coach Bryant, to see his passion and dedication. The things I took away from him, I still profess today. Football has changed a lot, but coaching football hasn't changed as much as people might think." 

That desire to find mentors has continued at Duke, where he works alongside Mike Krzyzewski. There’s plenty that Cutcliffe has learned from basketball coaches, such as managing personalities. Never stop learning.

"I'm a big fan of John Wooden. I've read every one of John Wooden's books. I've read every one of Mike Kryzyzewski's books,” Cutcliffe said. “I would recommend to anybody that wants to learn about being special that you read those books. John Wooden tells you quickly that his father was his mentor.

"Young people that are listening, go grab the greatest mentors you can and be willing to do whatever it takes. It doesn't matter what the job is. What matters is who you're learning from, and take the time to learn while you're there."

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.