Jim Grobe Regrets How It Ended at Wake Forest


In my sporting lifetime I have known three Wake Forest football coaches. The first was Jim Caldwell, who only became notable later with the Indianapolis Colts and now the Detroit Lions. Other than recruiting the Leaks, I remember nothing about Caldwell’s tenure at Wake Forest.

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The most recent is Dave Clawson, a coach whose background I admire as a builder of programs at Richmond and at Bowling Green. However I have little other knowledge of Clawson than those old stats. He only just picked his first starting quarterback at Wake Forest two days ago.

Occupying the vast swath in between was Jim Grobe, a Fisher DeBerry disciple that brought misdirection football to Wake Forest. Grobe won more often than he should have at Wake, taking advantage of the down periods of North Carolina, NC State, Duke, and even Florida State that coincided with his tenure. Grobe was a believer in the redshirt and the best Wake Forest teams relied on a core of fifth year seniors.

Jim Grobe got to Wake Forest in 2001 and throughout the stretch that he was at Wake, Grobe was also presented as content with his situation. He understood the limitations at Wake but accepted them and found ways to win. Bigger programs came calling and he shrugged them off. His persistence was rewarded with the 2006 ACC Championship.

That was always the story I thought was out there. Now Jim Solomon of CbsSports reports that Grobe had misgivings on how it all fell apart including not taking some of the opportunities that were presented him.

Grobe lamented first that he did not stick to his first principles. His emphasis on redshirting was reduced as he was more driven by winning. He said that meant bringing certain characters that didn’t fit the program.

Apr 30, 2013; Greensboro, GA, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons head football coach Jim Grobe (left) and Wake Forest Demon Deacons former quarterback Riley Skinner (right) react during the Chick-fil-A Challenge at the Reynolds Plantation Resort. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey/CFA-pr via USA TODAY Sports **HAND OUT PHOTO **

Grobe also lamented not sticking to his offensive precepts. As Grobe depended more on Riley Skinner at quarterback, Wake Forest shifted toward a more pro style attack. It worked fine with Skinner, but it also helped undo Grobe’s traditional recruiting strategy.

Finally, Grobe regretted not cashing in by taking the Nebraska or Arkansas jobs when they came around. That may seen like a no brainer for the casual football fan, but this is Jim Grobe that we are talking about. At the time, I am certain Grobe thought he was doing the right thing. Perhaps some of that second-guessing is based around the fact that Grobe is out of coaching right now and does not want to be.

Grobe pointed to rising expectations that were not matched by rising facilities support as the reason for his ouster. For a few years, Grobe was magic. The magic seemed to disappear over the last two years. No one remembered what it means to coach at Wake Forest and how hard it can be, so Grobe had to go.

Now, in the first years of Clawson, they will be reminded. Hopefully Jim Grobe will be coaching again somewhere by then, since that is what he wants to do.

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