Wake Forest names Bowling Green’s Dave Clawson as next football coach
After a week-long search, Wake Forest has again turned to the MAC for its next football coach. On Monday, Demon Deacons athletic director Ron Wellman announced that Bowling Green’s Dave Clawson would replace outgoing coach Jim Grobe, who came to Winston-Salem 13 years ago from Ohio. Wake Forest chose Clawson, who is coming off a win over Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game on Friday, over Ball State coach Pete Lembo, who had also interviewed for the job.
“We are very pleased to have Dave Clawson leading our football program,” said Director of Athletics Ron Wellman. “Dave is a proven winner and leader and has had great success at every institution he has coached. Dave has rebuilt every program that he has coached and has led each institution to a conference championship. He has developed a national reputation as a builder of programs. Dave’s expectations for our program and players are extremely high. We have much to look forward to with his leadership of our program.”
That part about program especially important to Wellman. When Grobe was hired in 2000 after six seasons with the Bobcats, he methodically built the Demon Deacons into winners by using redshirts and recruiting underrated prospects. Grobe’s patient approach — coupled with a downswing at both Florida State and Clemson after the ACC expanded — led Wake to an ACC title and a berth in the Orange Bowl in 2006.
For a variety of reasons — including a refusal to adapt the offense to fit his personnel, a reduced emphasis on recruiting and a refusal to shake up his staff — Grobe wasn’t able to sustain that success. The Demon Deacons went 23-38 in the past five seasons, and made just one bowl appearance, a loss to Mississippi State in the 2011 Music City Bowl. Grobe still leaves Wake tied with Peahead Walker as the winningest coach in school history.
If Clawson is going to have success with the Demon Deacons, he’ll need to make recruiting and offensive innovation high priorities. In his postgame press conference after the Falcons (10-3) won the MAC championship on Friday, Clawson thanked the Bowling Green administration for its patience, saying that academics, the use of redshirting, the ability to overcome scholarship restrictions and a refusal to take shortcuts were all keys to achieving results. Those are all phrases that Wellman and the Wake Forest athletic department love to use, which means that Clawson is a good fit for how they like to go about their business.
In 14 seasons as a coach at Fordham, Richmond and Bowling Green, Clawson has a career record of 90-80. His Falcons were one of just four teams to improve by three wins in each season from 2010 to ’12 (from 2-10, to 5-7, to 8-5), and the only one of those four to improve again in 2013.