Two years ago Dave Clawson led the Bowling Green football program to its first conference championship since 1992. It was a feat not even Urban Meyer could accomplish. Clawson bolstered his reputation as a program builder and was subsequently hired by Wake Forest. Last night, Bowling Green made its third consecutive appearance in the MAC Championship Game, and won its first conference championship since Clawson's final game at BG. Bowling Green's success and depth chart should make Wake Forest fans very excited about the future.
Bowling Green took a 21-0 halftime lead over Northern Illinois and did not look back, as they won 34-14. That win, along with Bowling Green's appearance in last year's MAC Championship Game helped Dino Babers get hired to be Syracuse's next football coach. He should probably write Dave Clawson a thank you note, because Barbers relied heavily upon the players Clawson and his staff recruited.
Here is a link to Bowling Green's depth chart. A resounding theme throughout the depth chart is the number of upperclassmen who are starters. A number of coaches will just leave at their peak and then the program experiences a drop off once they leave. While some of this can be attributed to a loss of coaching acumen, it can also be attributed to some coaches taking short cuts like taking a disproportionately higher amount JUCO's or graduate transfers. That's not what Clawson did at Bowling Green, and that's not what he's doing at Wake Forest.
While it may be discouraging to Wake Forest fans that Clawson is just 6-18 during his first 2 seasons at Wake, Bowling Green's success is a sign that things will turn around. Clawson went 7-6 in his first year at BG, but then went 2-10 and 5-7 in years 2 and 3, respectively. Bowling Green hasn't won fewer than 8 games since. Clawson's first two Wake teams have struggled, but it's clear from the recruiting rankings and the development of the young players on the team that this program is set up for success probably as early as next season.
Future Wake Forest teams will resemble what Bowling Green has now. Experienced at every position, and explosive. Some of that explosiveness can certainly be attributed to Dino Babers' offensive philosophy, but Clawson recruited the athletes that allowed Barbers to successfully implement his system.
Dave Clawson didn't just build something and then leave before things went awry. He built something very sustainable. He did it at Fordham, Richmond, and Bowling Green. Now he's doing it Wake Forest. The first two years of what was happening on the field were difficult to watch at times, but Wake is ready to turn the corner. Clawson's record speaks for itself. Clawson won't officially get credit for Bowling Green's 2015 championship, but his work played an instrumental role. Wake has a damn good coach. Last night was another piece of strong evidence.