After 13 seasons, five bowl appearances and one unforgettable ACC Championship, Jim Grobe resigned Monday as the head football coach at Wake Forest University. Grobe ends his tenure with the Demon Deacons with 42 career Atlantic Coast Conference victories, three times more than the next man on the list- Bill Dooley (14 conference wins).
Grobe inherited a program that had sunk to the depths of ACC football mediocrity, if not worse, upon his hiring in December 2000. His predecessor, Jim Caldwell, was fired after compiling a 26-63 record in eight seasons with only 12 conference wins. Employing a misdirection offense figuratively put together with duct tape and spackle, Grobe guided the Deacs to a 6-5 record in his first season at the helm.
After five seasons, having recruited the personnel he felt was needed to run his system, the Deacs embarked on the 2006 campaign set to run an option-based attack with star quarterback Ben Mauk under center. Mauk was injured during the first game of the season, however, forcing Grobe and his staff to change the offense on the fly to better suit the capabilities of a then-unknown redshirt freshman named Riley Skinner.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Skinner, Jonathan Abbate and a group of talented redshirt sophomores called the Fresh Deacs roared to a 11-3 record, an Atlantic Division title, the ACC Championship and a berth in the Orange Bowl- the first (and heretofore only) ACC school from North Carolina to do so.
For his efforts, Grobe received multiple awards for national coach of the year, including the Bobby Dodd award and the American Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year Award. During his tenure, multiple Demon Deacons received individual honors such as Ryan Plackemeier's Ray Guy Award and the Butkus Award won by Aaron Curry. It was almost fitting that Grobe's Wake Forest career ended on a day in which four current Deacons won spots on the All-ACC teams announced on Monday.
Ron Wellman, Wake Forest's Director of Athletics, reflected on Grobe's successes but mostly praised him for not only being a winning football coach, but also (and mostly) being a great person.
"When you look back at this 13-year period, it will go down as the greatest 13-year period in Wake Forest football history," Wellman said. "There's one reason for that, and that is Jim Grobe. Before Jim came, we had gone to five bowl games (total). During Jim's 13 years, we went to five bowls. When you cut through it all, Jim Grobe was a winning football coach, but he was a better man."