One of the staples of Jim Grobe's tenure at Wake Forest has been his desire to redshirt every incoming freshman to the program. The basic reasoning behind it is solid enough: 1) It gives freshmen one full year of coaching in the program without burning a year of eligibility, and 2) the athletes have a good chance to acclimate themselves to a rigorous academic curriculum. However, critics of the policy have always argued that the mass redshirting negatively effects a program that is already perennially hurting for depth.
That's why, in an interview with Heather Dinich posted Monday on ESPN.com, offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke surely raised eyebrows when he shared that the redshirt program was officially on hold. This revelation signals a sea change within the Deacon football program, and more importantly, signals that those occupying the football offices believe they can win this year.
Perhaps the most telling (and welcome) statement from Lobotzke concerned changing the mindset of Wake Forest football. Per the ESPN article:
"It used to be, if you went 5-7, everyone kind of said, ‘Oh, OK, good try, guys, get ‘em next year.’ Now we’re really trying to encourage our players to be pissed about 5-7. We’re saying, ‘Hey, look, this is unacceptable. This isn’t the Wake Forest of 10 years ago. This is the new Wake Forest, where we don’t accept 5-7."
That statement should have many heads nodding in agreement among alumni and fans alike. While there will always be a fraction of the base that complains exclusively about the won-loss record, the biggest complaint (especially among young alumni) at Wake Forest is that, too often it seems that Deacon athletics still enjoys being Little Ol' Wake Forest- the forever underdog. By Grobe opening competition to everyone with a locker, however, the message is very clear: the expectations have changed, and so has the standard.