The 2016 Wake Forest season wasn’t always pretty, and was a roller coaster of emotions, but in the end it showed that head coach, Dave Clawson, and his staff have done a remarkable job of rebuilding the Wake Forest football program. For Clawson, it was further proof of his excellent rebuilding credentials.
Wake Forest accomplished things this season that the program hadn’t in some time. With Wake’s 34-26 victory over #24 Temple, the team earned its seventh win of the season, which is more than the program won during Clawson’s first two seasons (2014 and 2015) combined.
Wake’s 6 regular season victories brought the program back to a bowl game for the first time since 2011. Wake’s bowl victory also meant that the program won its first bowl game since 2008, as well as the program’s first victory over a ranked opponent since 2011. Considering that Clawson essentially inherited a program (pre 2014 recruiting class) that didn’t have a FBS caliber quarterback or running back, this is a damn good accomplishment.
Clawson’s previous rebuilds have been well-documented on our website, as well as in Sports Illustrated. This Temple victory is proof that his process works in the ACC just as well as it does in the MAC or non Power Five levels. He doesn’t take short cuts. He makes a very concentrated effort to recruiting large classes during his early seasons to get “complete teams” in his classes, and he also focuses on the linemen, since those players take the most time to physically develop. Twice he has signed the top-ranked recruiting class in school history, and the 2017 class is also shaping up to be a good one. He now has evidence to show beyond a reasonable doubt that he can build a good team at this level, and that recruits should have full confidence in him.
During his tenure the school has received some unbelievably generous donations from the likes of Bob McCreary and Ben Sutton. Those two gentlemen have spearheaded Wake Forest’s effort to bolster Wake’s facilities, and the Deacs will have some of the best facilities in the conference. Their major donations signaled a trust in Coach Clawson, and he has done more than enough to earn their trust. As a fellow Wake Forest alumnus and fan, I cannot thank McCreary and Sutton enough for their sensational generosity, as they have been a major part of Clawson’s rebuild.
Dave Clawson penned this well-written piece for Sports Illustrated several days ago. With all of the discussion about Wakey Leaks he thought that there wasn’t enough attention being paid to his team and what they have accomplished, and he’s absolutely correct. I was so proud of what this team accomplished this year, and I cannot wait to see where Clawson can take this program in the future.
The team will now have a great deal of momentum headed into the offseason, and will add several talented redshirt and true freshmen in the fall. We’ll discuss early projections for next year’s roster in the coming weeks, but Wake returns a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. It is a wonderful time to be a Wake Forest football fan. Trust the process - now more than ever.