It's been an exciting 10 days or so for the good ship BSD, and with good reason. Wake Forest courted and landed their number-one choice to replace Jim Grobe: Bowling Green's Dave Clawson. In light of the hiring, I asked my staff of Demon Deacons to give their take on the new coach and maybe give him some advice. The questions are as follows:
1) What is your initial reaction to the hiring of head coach Dave Clawson?
2) Excluding his recent victory in the MAC title game, what is the most impressive part of his resume?
3) What advice would you give coach Clawson as he begins the task of re-imaging Wake Forest football?
My initial reaction is that this is a pretty solid overall hire for Wake Forest. The general consensus from writers around the football community is that Clawson is a really good fit for Wake. I was intrigued by both Lembo and Clawson from the get-go and I think it's pretty clear that we had two candidates, pursued them, and got one of the guys we wanted. I credit Wellman for doing a solid job on this coaching search.
I think the most impressive part of his resume is the multiple national coach of the year awards he has at two different schools. Furthermore he has taken multiple programs who have been either under-performing or just downright terrible and turned them around. At Richmond he looked to schools like Wake to see how he could build up their program at an academically rigorous institution. I expect he will be able to do the same here in Winston-Salem
I would tell him to come in with a blank slate and not set a ceiling for what Wake can accomplish. This is a time where private, highly academically challenging football programs are experiencing an unprecedented level of success and Wake Forest can do the same. Grobe really lost a lot of people down the homestretch with comments about Wake "always being a certain way" in reference to how the football program must be built. I would advise that Clawson not accept any ceiling and come in ready to turn Wake into a bowl team on a regular basis.
I believe Dave Clawson is an outstanding hire and will be very successful at Wake Forest. He has a proven track record of turning around programs and that is exactly what this school needs right now. The search was done in a timely manner and now Clawson will be able to hit the ground running on the recruiting trail. I believe he provides us with a tremendous amount of leadership and enthusiasm that I believe will pay dividends in our recruiting efforts.
To me, his days at Fordham are his most impressive. He took over a program who had 10 consecutive losing seasons and a football budget of just over $100,000. By the end of his tenure he had increased the budget to more than $630,000 (most of which he raised himself by cold calling) and had three consecutive winning seasons.
Think big and don't set a ceiling on your potential. Embrace the academics as he has done previously and use that to our advantage. I would also strongly encourage Mr. Clawson to embrace the Winston-Salem community and Wake Forest alumni as I'm sure he will. I also believe any interaction he can have with current students will go a long way to building up student attendance at games again.
Dave Clawson is a solid hire. He isn't a "belle of the ball" name like Chad Morris or Pat Narduzzi, but he fits the bill and his system won't require a massive overhaul of new players. I think he will bring excitement from the beginning and will have long term success. I could see Clawson among the names mentioned for ACC Coach of the Year within the next 3-4 years.
Its becoming a bit of an echo but his ability to turn programs around and the way in which he does it. Clawson's resume shows that he isn't afraid to get his hands dirty; he isn't counting on big football money, hot locations, or previous regimes to have success. Clawson's success at Fordham, Richmond and Bowling Green screams "self built". I think thats a mantra that Wake Forest can and should embrace.
Enjoy it, this is your program now. Clawson will be given the time and support that he needs in order to win, but it is up to him to rally his players and fan base. Clawson should take note of what Butch Jones has done at UT, he needs to bring back the excitement of playing at home and build up the rivalries. Fans and players will only be as excited as their head coach.
While initially under the radar, Dave Clawson fits the bill. He is known for building programs, and has particularly had success in small private schools. Before Bowling Green's upset over Northern Illinois, he was not well-renowned, but he is a coach that can set a strong foundation for Wake Forest and set the tone for years to come.
While Clawson's W-L record doesn't look good on paper, his teams consistently improve throughout his tenure. His monicker for program-building is no faux. After an 0-11 start at Fordham, the Rams were 7-4 in two years. The same can be said for his time at Richmond and Bowling Green. When he has had time to develop a consistent recruiting basis and development strategy (which he wasn't able to fully implement in Knoxville), Clawson has had tremendous success at every stop.
Remember, this isn't the MAC, this is the ACC. You are fighting for highly-sought after recruits with the elite programs in the nation. It is imperative to: have a strategy to bring talent to Winston, stick by it, and base the play-calling based on the personnel. And don't be afraid to get your hands dirty...
I really like the hire. It isn't necessarily the sexiest hire we could've made (that probably would've been Narduzzi) but his record speaks for itself. It's not a sterling record per se, but it is consistent, which is exactly what makes it a good hire. This coaching search, in my opinion, was the polar opposite of the search that got us to land Coach Bzdelik, and I'd say that's nothing but a good thing.
The most impressive part to me of his record is his consistency. He was able to do the same exact thing everywhere he went; take struggling programs and bring them back up to prominence/greatness at that level, which is exactly the spot that Wake finds itself in now. Of course it won't be immediate, and I hope most of the fanbase doesn't expect it to be, but I for one trust in Coach Clawson. His successes cannot be denied, and there are very few reasons to believe he can't replicate that here.
The one thing I would advise Coach Clawson to do would be to believe in a lot of the things he's said. It's not so much that I question whether he's genuine or not; I have no doubts he is. The point is that I really believe that if his track record is anything to go by, in several years, Coach Clawson might just be able to turn LOWF into a consistent contender. Own that, believe in it, and accomplish it.