June 1, 2005
David Cutcliffe: I have issued a statement, but just to give you a synopsis of the statement, and I just want to thank Charlie Weis and the University of Notre Dame for being so good to me and my family. And it’s been absolutely wonderful, their care and concern. And I value the way they treated us.
This health issue became, it was just a sudden thing, it kind of snuck up on me and it’s put me behind. I wasn’t able to participate in spring practice and just didn’t really feel like I was ready to jump in and give my best. And that’s the only way I would do it. And I didn’t feel like I was capable of doing justice to the players and the staff. And I was really looking forward to being a part of something special, such a special university, a special group of people. I want to thank Kevin White for the job he does and the tremendous espirit de corp of the entire Notre Dame Athletic Department. And I was fortunate to be a part of that for a short period of time.
But I’m excited about the future, I’m excited about trying to continue to get better, which I am doing now. And looking forward to what the future brings. With that, I’ll go ahead and take questions.
Q. Coach, just a quick question about your statement. At the very beginning it said, “Everywhere I look these days I see opportunity and I know well that many will say I’m squandering a fantastic one.” Is there anything besides your health that caused you to make this decision?
David Cutcliffe: No, it’s just my health. Like I said, that kind of jumped up and came on so quickly, just there’s a lot of opportunity out there, but I’m just not ready to jump back into it at this time.
Q. And is it just a case of just recovery? I mean, I’m not sure what stage you’re in.
David Cutcliffe: I’m still in cardiac rehab and just to be able to continue the recovery and be able to get my strength back through the surgery and such I lost about 30 pounds. So it’s been just a tough ordeal. And I think it’s the best thing for me and my family.
Q. And long-term you hope to get back into coaching in the next year or two?
David Cutcliffe: Well, I hope I have the opportunity to do that. But you never know what the good Lord brings and we’ll just kind of see what the future holds.
Q. I was going to ask you if you thought you might get back into it, sounds like you’re open to that in the future. What do you see as the immediate future for you and your family? I understand the house has been sold and I guess you’ll be moving?
David Cutcliffe: Yes, we’re going to be moving to the East Tennessee area where my wife is from and put our kids in school there. And then we’ll just kind of see what happens from there. It’s one of those things where I think the future is a little unclear, but I certainly know that I’m planning on rejuvenating myself physically and mentally and trying to eventually get back into what I love to do.
Q. Curious what the doctor’s original prognosis was for your return and if maybe there’s been more complications to set you back or was this kind of what you thought might be a problem all along, that you just wouldn’t be ready come summertime?
David Cutcliffe: Well, when I first had the surgery, I had two or three different complications. And I was put back in the hospital, it really slowed me down from what we originally thought it might be. But Coach Weis has been just more than fair and given me plenty of opportunities to try to get back. I’m just to a point now with where I’m just really getting into the rehab good, getting some endurance. And as I said, I just know me, I’m not going to be ready to jump back into it with the ability to do the kind of job I expect from myself. So I’m just trying to be fair to every one, players, coaches, everyone included.
Q. Did you have any discussion with Charlie about who might take your place?
David Cutcliffe: No, I haven’t gone into any details with him on that. I don’t know what his plans are at this point.
Q. How much did the first health problem you had at Ole Miss, when you first got there, how much did that come up in your mind in terms of when you looked at your family and your young daughter about just taking some time off?
David Cutcliffe: Well, you know, I had a serious bout of pancreatitis and that was no fun. And I’ve been through some health issues. This one has taken more out of me than actually the pancreatitis did. I don’t know that I would ever have thought that could happen. But I talked to my wife a lot about this, I do value my family more and more after these issues and so there’s a lot to think about. And we just felt like it was the best avenue to take.
Q. I was just sad to hear about this, and they kind of, you kind of answered my question. I want to make sure that this was not a permanent retirement.
David Cutcliffe: No. Definitely not. Again, I expect — I said in the statement in the release — and I do feel this — that I’m healthier than I’ve been in years. I didn’t know I was feeling that bad. But I’ve got a good start, I just want to finish it and reach back and reach to what health level that I feel like I should be.
Q. And it seems like your family has supported you in whatever move you made. How does your family feel about this?
David Cutcliffe: Well, they’re excited about just the opportunity — I’ve never had — I coached for 29 years in a row and I never really had a lot of time around my family. So I think that — I think they’re excited about me being home a little bit more. Sometimes you might wonder about that.
Q. The coaching world is going to miss you for awhile. Good luck.
David Cutcliffe: I appreciate it. Thank you.
Q. I was wondering, when did you come to this decision? When did you start kind of feeling like this might — you might be leaning this way?
David Cutcliffe: Well, just the last couple of weeks. It’s something that my wife and I started talking about when it was kind of time to return back. And I was, you know, all along I didn’t know where I would be at this stage, obviously. And as it came down to time to go back, I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to do the kind of job that I felt like Coach Weis and Notre Dame deserved. And that’s where I first kind of approached my wife about it. And then we talked about it and I talked with Charlie about it, and as I said, I do want to reiterate that, how awesome he’s been throughout this whole process.
Q. Now what kind of date had you targeted for return?
David Cutcliffe: I was going to try to get back end of May, first of June. So obviously that’s where we are right now and it just, like I said, we didn’t feel like — we really feel like this is the best thing for me and my family. And I certainly feel strongly that this is the best thing. But I also feel very strongly about Notre Dame and the people there and, you know, I’m excited for them, the future they have. I just wish I could have been a part of it.
Q. Do you kind of, I guess, curse your luck, since two years ago in that season —
David Cutcliffe: It hasn’t been real good. I think maybe stress had something to do with this heart problem because a year ago I had a heart work-up and everything was perfect. And then suddenly kind of out of nowhere this hit me. And it hasn’t been fun to go through. But I know that the most important thing right now is to try to get fully recovered. And that’s why I’m doing this.
Q. Without going into the gory details, what’s it like to go through one of these things, wake up and you’re all rewired all of a sudden?
David Cutcliffe: Well, it’s different. I think anybody that’s ever had it will tell you it’s a very emotional thing to go through. And I guess some people look at it as routine, because they do so many of them. But if you’re the one under the saw, you don’t understand it. And it’s different for everybody. Different recovery periods. And I’ve had some people tell me it’s taken them over a year to get back to normal. I had people that tell me two to three months they’re back to normal or close to it. But it’s just different for everyone, but it’s not a lot of fun to go through.
Q. You mentioned that you had been a coach for 29 years, this will be your first significant time off. Have you thought at all about in addition to the recovery, anything you might do on the side? Whether it’s, you know, volunteering to help out at the local high school coaching or doing some television work. Have you even thought about any of that yet?
David Cutcliffe: A little bit. I’m sure I’m going to have some of the high school people approach me and I don’t know what the opportunities are there that are out there. And I haven’t talked with very many people about this. So not a lot of people know at this time. But I think that as I said, the No. 1 priority for me is going to be making sure that I can rehab and get myself back to where I think I need to be.
Q. You mentioned that you’re moving to East Tennessee, will the doctors transfer the care there? Do you already have all that set-up?
David Cutcliffe: Yes, I have doctors that are friends of mine in East Tennessee, having spent 17 years there. And that’s one of the other reasons that it’s a good relocation for us, besides my wife is from there. And so we have already got that arranged and I’ve figured out where I’m going to continue to rehab and we actually worked on that this morning.
Q. Most of my questions have already been answered, but I do want to know, are you still doing your rehab in Mississippi?
David Cutcliffe: Yes, I’m at the hospital in Oxford at this time.
Q. And do you know how much longer you’ll be there?
David Cutcliffe: Just a couple of weeks at the most at this time. We are planning on being gone mid June.
Q. I know that your son graduated, did that play any kind of role in this since he did graduate from high school?
David Cutcliffe: Well, nothing, other than the fact that there was one reason that my family stayed here was to let him graduate. I’ve got a daughter that will be in 11th grade and we’re trying to get the best possible situation for our children academically, and that’s important for us. But Chris was able to finish his senior year here and he — I wish Katy could finish here. She’s had a great experience here, but she knew that we were moving on and obviously it changed abruptly as to where she thought she was moving to.
Q. Wanted to ask you a question, you once mentioned that your son had talked about going into coaching one day. And now with the added stress that you had these last couple seasons and the culmination of your health problems, I guess would you deter him from that or would you tell him that it’s such a high stress career these days with the amount of pressure that’s on a head coach at the college level?
David Cutcliffe: Well, he’s a brilliant young man and he has a lot of opportunity to do a lot of things right now. Right now he’s still talking about coaching. But I tried to talk to him about some of the pitfalls and some of the things that the profession is going through right now. But I’m certainly not going to — it’s a great profession, the opportunity to work with young people, an opportunity to make a difference in young people’s lives, that’s something that I cherish and I no he that if he gets involved with it, he’ll cherish as well. So whatever he wants to do, I’m going to support.
Q. Wanted to follow-up and ask, did you even before the surgery and health problem this past spring, did you give any thought about sitting out a year just because Chris was coming through as a senior and just kind of taking it easy for a year?
David Cutcliffe: Back in December I gave it some thought and talked with my wife about it. And an opportunity like Notre Dame — I was not going to jump at anything, but I was only going to go to an opportunity that I felt excited about. And when the opportunity came along to go to Notre Dame, and that was such an exciting opportunity, that that kind of put to rest any thoughts I had about sitting out.
Q. While you were recovering several SEC coaches did a teleconference wishing you well and that kind of thing. I guess, have you talked to any of any of the other coaches around the league just about how you’ve been doing and what this profession can do to a coach when the stress level kicks up?
David Cutcliffe: I talked to a number of them on the phone. They called and wished us well with the recovery. And I talked to them all along, even when I was at Notre Dame, and I had good conversations. But those guys — the guys around the league and the guys in this profession tend to be positive people, optimists, so all of those talks were real upbeat. We didn’t get into anything that’s negative that’s going on. So for the most part all of that was real upbeat and optimistic and those calls were certainly appreciated.
Q. Let me ask you to expand on one of your answers a little bit. Do you have a personal or have your doctors given you a timetable down the road when you’ll be a hundred percent?
David Cutcliffe: Well, they don’t, they really can’t give you that. I’m doing much better, but I’m on a lot of medication and I’m looking forward to getting off some of that medication, but they can’t give me a timetable as to when I’m going to get off that. The rehab, I’ve, I’m about halfway through the rehab. And I’ve got some endurance, you know, it’s kind of like with anybody working out, you can’t judge how much you’re going to gain, how much ground you’re going to gain, so you just jump in and do the best you can. And I’m hoping that I can reach a level of feeling good some time this fall. Where I’m as excited as I’ve ever been about coaching again and I just want that energy level back. I want to feel what I felt for most of my life. And I’m looking forward to that opportunity.
Q. Based on the fact that you are now a coordinator and that you’re not a head coach, at the current time, did it make the decision a little easier, knowing that you would leave your current position in very good hands with Coach Weis; and had you still been a head coach at Ole Miss or anywhere else would you have made this same decision?
David Cutcliffe: That’s an interesting question and you never know if you’re in a job that you’ve been in and you’re not going through a relocation and not going through some of the changes, and that I might have felt good enough to continue on with certainly the health problems. But I just have, at this stage, I know this is the best thing. And it’s hard to speculate on something that you’re not part of. Hopefully, I’ll get back to that position again one day and stay healthy and have a great opportunity to spend the rest of my career coaching football, have a lot left of my career to coach football.
Q. When you’re fully recovered and ready to go back to coaching, is returning to Notre Dame at all a possibility somewhere down the line in your mind, given that they treated you well throughout this process?
David Cutcliffe: Well, they treated me wonderfully, but that would be totally up to Coach Weis. And I can tell you this, I don’t think many people are going to be leaving. So I doubt that there will be very many openings in the near future. Because I think it’s going to be an exciting time for Notre Dame. I feel very strongly about that and Coach Weis will do a great job for them. I appreciate everyone, I appreciate all the prayers for me and my family and everyone out there listening, you appreciate the way you’ve treated us.
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