Writing this article has been on my mind ever since it was announced a few years ago that Wake Forest would be playing Appalachian State in a home-and-home in football.
Yesterday, Ed Hardin wrote an article that appeared in the Winston-Salem Journal that finally pushed me over the edge to write one myself.
I encourage everybody to read Hardin’s article if you are interested in great writing and what I think is a very good opinion on the topic of whether or not Wake Forest should be playing Appalachian State, much less going to Boone to do so.
Without ruining the article, Hardin argues that these types of games are what fans want to see, and there should be more of them. He applauds Wake Forest for scheduling this game and also lauds head coach Dave Clawson for his eagerness to taken on the game as well.
There has been a lot of discussion amongst Wake Forest fans on internet message boards, forums, and in real life alike about whether or not it in the best interest of the Demon Deacons to take on Appalachian State.
According to a poll that @BloggerSoDear ran earlier this week, there is a good amount of spread too:
Now that they are FBS, how often should Wake schedule App St in football?— BSD (@BloggerSoDear) September 19, 2017
Many have posited that it is a lose-lose game for Wake in the sense that if Wake wins then it is expected, but if Wake loses then it is a black mark on the team and the season.
There are certainly two sides to every coin, and in this case there is no right or wrong answer.
I grew up in Winston-Salem with a lot of folks who had parents who went to Appalachian State, or ultimately wound up going to App State themselves. I was in high school during the midst of Appalachian State’s 3-peat at the FCS level (2005-2007), as well as Wake Forest’s ACC Championship season of 2006.
Imagine how fun would it have been to see the ACC Champion take on the FCS Champion that year?
In today’s day and age of social media there are pros and cons to the visibility that comes with it, but I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing how many App St. and Wake fans alike are looking forward to this game through Facebook, Twitter, etc.
It’s even cooler to me to see Wake Forest have a target on its back with Appalachian State as the team with the chip on its shoulder and something to prove.
I do not believe Wake Forest should shy away from games like this, and I am glad that Hardin points to Wake as a team that is taking on these games (including scheduling North Carolina as an out-of-conference opponent in the future).
I understand the viewpoint that there are a lot of other teams that Wake can play that would be easier games to win that don’t involve traveling up the mountain to a projected record-setting home crowd at Kidd-Brewer. I do, however, agree with what Dave Clawson has to say on the topic as well:
“It doesn’t make sense for us to be flying to Logan, Utah or Monroe, La. or some place in Texas,” Clawson said. “Nothing against those programs, but those are not games our fans are going to travel to. There’s a buzz in the air this week on both campuses because of the proximity and the history. This game was played 22 times between ’75 and ’01. There are games on our schedule that I didn’t like. I don’t know if Wake Forest fans get fired up about the rivalry with Utah State. That’s just not a game that resonates.”
Personally I believe there is a lot to gain from this game and don’t view it merely as a losing proposition either way. It is a chance to show that Wake isn’t afraid to play anybody, anywhere and come out with a victory.
Wake battles App State for a lot of in-state recruits. Look no further than current App State standout wide receiver Shaedon Meadors, who led the Mountaineers in receiving last year and chose App State over Wake Forest.
It’s big for recruiting, it’s big for in-state bragging rights, and it’s big for both fan bases to get the chance to travel the 86 miles from Winston-Salem to Boone to see their team play in a different environment.
Appalachian State and Wake Forest decided to allot 4,000 tickets for each game to road fans, and to the best of my knowledge Wake Forest sold all of those out. It should be an electric atmosphere and give the team a good trial run for what Clemson will be like in a few weeks. I look forward to making the drive to Boone and experiencing what I have heard is a great stadium for football.
The Mountaineers have come to Winston-Salem 22 times (Wake holds a 14-7-1 record), but this will be the first time Wake has traveled to Boone. In those 22 games, the largest margin of victory for either team is 17 points (a 20-3 Wake Forest victory in 1993). This will be the first meeting since 2001, a 20-10 Wake Forest victory.
This game will also be the first time Wake has played App State since it moved up to the FBS level from the FCS. The Mountaineers will also be looking for its first win over a P5 team since the move up, falling to Tennessee, Miami, and Georgia in its prior three chances.
The game Saturday will be a tough one for Wake Forest and yes, there is a very realistic chance that Appalachian State wins this football game. That doesn’t mean that the Deacs should not play it. I too applaud Ron Wellman and Dave Clawson for their viewpoints on the game.
Now I don’t want to play Appalachian State every year, especially if that means going to Boone five times a decade, but I think playing a home-and-away every few years is just the right amount of competition for these two teams. It makes the fans happy, it gives the football players something to get excited about, and also provides good competition for Wake Forest before it heads into a very tough ACC schedule.
I understand that there are varying views on this topic and would love to hear from fans of both sides on whether or not you believe this is a football series that should be played. If so, how frequently, and if not then why not?