The fallout from the final Wake Forest game of the year that saw the Deacs finish the year at 5-7 started right after the game yesterday. Players took their frustrations out on the coaching staff, as well as Ron Wellman after the 55-21 loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores. We here at BSD (or at least I) feel the same way and feel the need to tell the world.
All season Wake Forest fans have wondered a lot what exactly is going on with coaching decisions schematically, as well as personnel-wise. Apparently the football players felt the same way too as many of them unloaded on the coaching staff and athletic department following a 5-7 (and bowl-less season).
I by no means think that the players are completely absolved of the blame since they are the ones playing the game, but have long been a critic of schemes that do not allow players to get out there and perform to the best of their ability. I think this year was one of the most conservative, gutless coaching that I have seen in a long time.
The players also are not happy with the lack of ability to get fired up, and several questioned the direction and attitude surrounding the entire program. The year was not only marred by ugly losses on the field, but off of it as well, as suspensions and injuries reigned supreme over wins.
Kudos to Dan Collins as he seemingly pushed the right buttons and asked the right questions in his post-game/season interviews with the football players in his article "The Season That Lasted Too Long."
Michael Campanaro told Dan Collins something that a lot of the Wake fans already suspected after the game, that not everybody is buying into the coaching staff, and isn't even that interested in the game:
RS-Jr NT Nikita Whitlock also expressed his dismay with the program and left no stone unturned, essentially calling out the coaching staff and the administration:
"You can’t lose three or four games the way we lost them – and I don’t have to mention them – and it be just be a players thing or a coaches thing,'' Whitlock said. "It’s a whole team thing, all the way from the top with Coach (Jim) Grobe and maybe Ron Wellman all the way to the bottom. Football is about effort. We need to make some changes to get better.''
Tanner Price also felt the same way:
"I think one of the big problems has been we just haven’t played with a lot of heart and a lot of emotion,'' Price said. "That’s sad to see because we have talented players, and I think we can play a lot better than we’ve been playing.''
Another problem that running back Josh Harris had was his lack of playing time yesterday (as in he didn't see the field for one play). Harris had been cleared to play and was ready to go yesterday, but his number was never called. Somebody within the Wake Forest SID/coaching staff apparently told Dan Collins that he wasn't healthy and couldn't play, to which JRoc tweeted the following at the My Take on Wake Twitter account (run by the W-S Journal, not DC himself.
@mytakeonwakewsj Who told you I was too injured to play? That was a flat out lie.— Joshua Harris (@JoshHarris25) November 25, 2012
His other tweets from yesterday included a couple of retweets of fans asking why he wasn't playing and that it was hurting the team because he could in fact have played.
Obviously some of the critical players on this football team have a lot of problems with not only the coaching staff, but other players on the team as well since they displayed a lack of censorship criticizing the lack of effort on both fronts.
This to me, indicates a fundamental problem with the direction of the football team. Head coach Jim Grobe has done a lot of great things for the Wake Forest football team, producing many moments that a lot of us never thought would happen, but unless there are some serious staff changes this off-season he needs to go.
Not to mention that with this kind of unrest it may result in RS-Jr's such as Nikita, that play a big role on this team for next year (a year where we return nearly all of our talent from this year), can leave because they have fulfilled their four years. Maybe they want to go to a place that is willing to go out and try to win instead of "not to lose".
A head coach cannot continue to rest on his laurels, content to take paycheck after paycheck when it is obvious that the product on the field does not match the zeroes following the first salary number.
In the wrap-up meeting that Ron Wellman has with Coach Grobe, there need to be several questions asked: a lot of them regarding Alex Kinal's ACC punting record (95), the utter incompetence of the offense overall (ranked near the bottom of the NCAA in almost every single statistical category, and most obviously why, in the biggest game of the year was our team completely out-coached, out-hustled and outplayed by a team that had already punched their bowl ticket and defeated their rival in an emotional game the week before.
It's one thing to lose games because we don't have enough talent, it's another thing completely to lose because the players and staff coached like they didn't even want to be out there in the biggest game of the year.
I understand that there were injuries, I understand that there were suspensions that had to be handed out and I understand the talent deficit that Wake Forest faces week in and week out, but at the end of the day those are all excuses.
The product that the Deacs put on the field this year was embarrassing for most of it. The high point came in the second game of the year against a Giovani Bernard-less North Carolina team. From there it was watching our offense and defense do the same thing over and over and over again expecting different results but coming up with the same thing. It's stupid, idiotic and counterproductive to think that doing the same thing that many times will change anything and yet we kept doing it.
If Coach Jim Grobe tells Ron Wellman that he is unwilling to reassign and even remove coaches from his staff, then Ron Wellman has to tell him that it is time for him to go as well. I hate to say that, and I'm not going to name names, but we all know who the guys are that need to go. It's impossible to look at the stats and think that what is going on is acceptable.
On a day that our rivals in Raleigh fired Tom O'Brien because he wasn't living up to expectations, it is borderline infuriating to think that we won't even make changes to our coordinators when embarrassing records are being set because of our overall futility.
People may laugh at N.C. State for their perhaps misplaced ambitions and unrealistic goals, but at least their administration expects excellence on the field and championships. Ours seemingly is content with "winning the right way", which is fine, except we aren't winning, and based on the number of suspensions and misconduct cases recently, aren't doing things the right way either.
If we are happy with going 4-8 and 5-7 with multiple suspensions each year, our administration can stand by and accept what's happening. I on the other hand, along with the majority of the fan base want to do better and know we can do better instead of accepting the status quo and exclaiming "we can't do better with our academic limitations."
James Franklin turned Vanderbilt around in two years, David Shaw and Jim Harbaugh turned Stanford around. Northwestern, Duke. Rice, and even Wake Forest from 2006-2008 showed that just because you put academics first does not mean you cannot succeed athletically. Why even play the game if you are just going to use excuses when the year is over as to why we failed? It makes absolutely no sense.
I didn't mean to rant, and I hope this goes over well with most people, but honestly I don't care if it does or not. I expect better and I'm tired of Wake Forest getting laughed at after every 30 point loss, suspensions and embarrassing antics on and off the field.
I'm proud to be a Demon Deacon and know we can do better than that.
If the administration and coaching staff doesn't see that, or at least feel the same way, then it's time for them to go as well. I appreciate what you have done, but don't let the door hit you on the way out. Nobody is feeling sorry for people that make that kind of money for these kind of results.