By Mary Arden Guyton
Oxford is more than just a Mississippi destination for Oxford High School head football coach Chris Cutcliffe. It’s home.
Cutcliffe and his wife, Molly, met in the Oxford School District and graduated together in 2005. He left his hometown of Oxford to attend the University of Tennessee for his bachelor’s degree and Duke University to receive his master’s degree in education. However, he always knew that he wanted to settle back into Oxford. Chris and Molly now have four boys who they are happy to raise in Oxford, they said.
“Molly and I felt like Oxford was a great place to raise a family, and we hoped that this could be somewhere we could come and stay. We love it here and love raising our kids here,” Chris Cutcliffe said.
Football runs in the family, as Chris is the son of former Ole Miss head football coach, David Cutcliffe. David coached at Ole Miss from 1998-2004, and is currently the head football coach at Duke University. As the Duke head coach for the past 11 seasons, he has led the Blue Devils to six bowl games in the past seven seasons.
Not only has his father been a great influence on his career, but he has also been an excellent resource. This past spring, Chris took his coaching staff to Duke University to attend several spring practices and learn from their coaches. Chris wanted his coaching staff to experience the guidance that he received from his father.
“I think the biggest thing that I’ve taken away from my dad is that he cares more about the people involved. Whether it’s the players or other coaches, the relationships that you develop matter more than wins and losses,” he said.
For as long as Chris can remember, coaching and teaching have been what he always wanted to do. He has now been coaching for 14 years, with the last eight spent at Oxford High School. As an assistant coach, Chris helped lead the Chargers to three state championship appearances. He has been the head coach for the Chargers since the 2016 season and has won at least 8 of 12 regular season games in each of his first three seasons, despite the difficulties of moving up to 6A classification—the highest in Mississippi high school athletics.
“It was definitely a big goal for me to be here one day,” he said. “Playing football here meant a lot to me, going to school here meant a lot to me. I think it’s a great school and great community, so I wanted to be able to come back here and hopefully give back to the guys coming through now and help them have some of the same experiences that I had.”
Chris said he recalls one of his favorite memories of his father’s time coaching at Ole Miss during the 2003 Egg Bowl victory in Starkville over Mississippi State on Thanksgiving Day. Not only was that game a great win for the Rebels, but Chris, as a Charger on the football team, and his teammates won the Mississippi North Half Championship the next day to advance to the state championship. Chris said he enjoyed being able to celebrate two victories with his entire family.
Oxford sports will always be a beloved part of Cutcliffe’s life. However, what he enjoys most are the relationships he is able to form and the ability to share these experiences with his family, he said.