There's no denying that Jim Grobe orchestrated the greatest 13-year run in the history of Wake Forest's football program. He led the Deacs to five bowl appearances and tied "Peahead" Walker for the most wins in school history with 77. The pinnacle of that 13-year run no doubt came during the 2006 season in which Grobe led the Deacs to an 11-3 record, ACC Championship and Orange Bowl appearance. He followed that memorable season up with nine and eight win season, respectively, including two bowl victories. Over the past five seasons, however, Jim Grobe failed to record a winning season and ultimately resigned on December 2, 2013. Now, Jim Grobe wants to play the hindsight card and pass blame. That simply isn't right.
Recently, when asked if Jim Grobe regrets not taking the Nebraska job in 2007, Grobe told CBS Sports "I do now, I didn't at the time. I honestly took great pride in Wake Forest. I had some really good friends there. I trusted some people there. I thought Wake was a little different than other schools. I really, at the time, felt we were going to get a bigger commitment in terms of facilities and support for the program that never really materialized. We loved all 13 years we were in Winston-Salem, but I'm not real happy with the way things ended."
I don't think any Wake Forest fan would have blamed Jim Grobe in the least had he accepted either the Nebraska or Arkansas positions in 2007. We live in a country that has a capitalistic and mobile economy. Grobe certainly earned those job offers with his tremendous accomplishment of winning the 2006 ACC Championship and being named the national coach of the year. But the fact is that he obviously did not accept either of those positions, and therefore should not be complaining about his past five seasons at Wake Forest.
As the head coach of a college football program, it is his job to both recruit talent and coach the talent he lands. He can make all of the arguments about lack of facilities and financial support he wants with regards to recruiting, but if he wanted financial support then he should have just gone to Nebraska or Arkansas when he had the opportunity. In 2010, spent the 8th in terms of football spending of 117 college football programs and Nebraska was 19th. Wake Forest was 55th, which was right behind Baylor, Kentucky, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. Don't choose not to go, but then still complain that we didn't spend as much as they did.
Even if recruiting was a disadvantage at Wake Forest, it's still the head coach's responsibility to assemble a staff that can produce the most out of the talent that they do have. That just was not happening over the past several seasons. Last season Wake Forest finished 81st in Football Outsiders' F/+ ratings system. The year prior we were a dreadful 107th out of 124. According to the S&P+ ratings we have finished (from 2010 to 2013) 90th, 60th, 113th, then finally 111th. This was despite having a quarterback get more experienced each season as well as the school's all-time leading receiver. That's not an administrative issue, that's a coaching issue.Grobe said, "The expectations got too high without a push for better facilities and better support. When your expectations go up but the things you're doing to win don't, that's where there's a problem." Should beating ULM at home, who was dead last in college football spending in 2010, not be an expectation?
Grobe acknowledges that he recruited players who were "a little bit better players but probably don't have a good enough love for the game." He went on to say, "I hate to say that Riley Skinner hurt us, because he won more games than any quarterback in Wake Forest history, but we ended up in a pro-style offense that didn't really fit us except for Skinner. We were throwing the ball every snap. We lost all that misdirection stuff. We just got stuck." This last statement simply isn't true, considering that in Skinner's senior season the Deacs passes the ball 417 times, compared to 429 rushing attempts. This was the highest percentage of plays that were passes during Skinner's illustrious 4-year career.Secondly, that's a coaching issue for not being able to properly adjust to the talent that you do have. It's also a strategic failure for not being able to recruit players to fit your system if you are so set on establishing one type of system.
Jim Grobe is a great human being and had a great overall tenure at Wake Forest. His recent comments, in addition to the comments he's made during interviews shortly after his resignation, have been nothing more than sour grapes and have hurt his legacy among Wake fans. Don't play the hindsight game now, because it's just childish. Grobe made a decision that he now regrets. These types of things happen all the time, but the fact that he didn't accept the Nebraska position isn't Wake Forest's fault. It's Jim Grobe's. He needs to own that decision, instead of shifting the blame to the administration. Ultimately he's the one who was responsible for the well-being of the Wake Forest football program, and he did not hold up his end of the bargain during the past five seasons. I consider anyone on this planet who makes the most of his or her opportunities to be a success, and Mr. Grobe was not a success during the past five seasons.