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Wake Forest 2019 ‘Pulse of the Fanbase’ Survey: Results and Insights

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Over 1000 Deacon Fans share their thoughts on a variety of WF Sports Topics. Come see the results.

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back, Deacs!

In the 3rd annual “Blogger So Dear Pulse of the Fanbase”, we were looking to build off our growth from last year and reach as many Deacon Fans as possible. In 2018, we hit 570 responses, which was more than enough to gain a diverse look at how the Wake Forest fanbase feels about a variety of relevant topics.

Our goal for 2019 was 650 replies. We got over 1100.

I can’t express how exciting this whole process has been from start to finish. Thank you to each and every one of you who took the survey and shared it with friends — This has been our best and biggest ‘Pulse of the Fanbase’ yet, and I can’t wait to see what new heights we can eclipse next year.

Alright, let’s get to the numbers. Here’s how our record-breaking 1138 survey responses came in from a fan description perspective: 44% Alums of 10+ years, 18% Newer Alums, 6% WFU Students, 3% WFU Parents, and 28% as Fans of Wake Forest. There were also 7 people who took it and defined themselves as “None of the Above. I just like polls.” Dear Poll-Enthusiasts, we appreciate you just as much as the other 1131 respondents. I promise.

Time for the data.

Describe Your Overall Engagement with Wake Forest Athletics compared to this point last year:

We’ll start with the question that is probably the least exciting, but most telling about the state of the Wake Forest Fanbase currently. There’s no denying that the struggles with the Basketball program over the last twelve months have caused some fans to be discouraged, or downright apathetic, toward what has historically been the school’s flagship program. 47% of respondents said they were less engaged than they were when they took the survey in 2018, with 16% stating the drop-off in interest was “Significant”. That’s a fairly alarming number, and one that sends a strong signal to the school that recent performances on the basketball court are not remotely close to the levels the fanbase expects or considers acceptable.

Of course, the 47% is likely not entirely driven by the downward trend of the basketball program; After all, there are various non-performance factors that can go into someone being less connected to Wake Forest Sports for a calendar year. But given the fact the Football team is coming off its 3rd straight Bowl Win, Men’s Soccer/Tennis programs are competing at unprecedented peaks, and multiple other sports seem to be trending in the right direction, the connection to Basketball and Wake Fans’ aggregate dissatisfaction is beyond noticeable.

All this being said, this is a poll that will likely flip in sentiment at this point next year if fans feel like their concerns are heard and the program gets a fresh start in terms of leadership. That potential change undoubtedly remains the most pressing feature of Ron Wellman’s final months as Athletic Director and the fanbase’s initial perception of the John Currie era. Let’s see what happens.

The Wake Forest Athletic Program I am most excited about in the next year is...

If the term “blowout” can be applied to a statistical survey, this poll is it. 84% of Deacon Nation stated that Wake Football was the program they were most excited about in the next year, receiving nearly 900 (!!!) more votes than the next highest team. That’s absolutely wild and is a testament to the incredible job Dave Clawson and his staff have done to build this program over the last few years.

It’d be fascinating to see how this poll would’ve turned out if The Rally in Raleigh didn’t come to fruition and injuries/bad luck became the primary story of the 2018 season instead. After that thrilling win at NC State, the team went Back-To-Back-To-Back in Bowls for the 1st time in school history, and the fanbase is as locked in on WF Football now as it’s ever been. With a favorable schedule in 2019 and plenty of key returning pieces next season, it’s a fun time to be a Deacon Football Fan.

Favorite Wake Forest Student Athlete of 2018

You probably could’ve seen this coming from a mile away, but Greg Dortch dominated with a convincing 66% in this poll. Coming off a sensational Redshirt Freshman season in 2017, Dortch undoubtedly entered the year as the most recognizable Wake Forest athlete, and a 1000+ yard and 10 Total TD season only further helped his cause to take home the crown.

2018 NCAA Tennis Singles Champion Petros Chrysochos and Junior PG Brandon Childress finished at 2nd and 3rd respectively, and late-season hero Jamie Newman was the top vote-getter for write-ins at 3% of all submissions. John Wolford also picked up a couple votes — I was initially planning on discarding them, but decided otherwise and counted them 5x for good measure #WhyNotJohn.

How Open Would You be to an Update/Rebrand of the Deacon Head Logo?

If there was a question I truly had no clue which way it was going to trend, it was this one. Rebrands of any kind in sports always have to be approached carefully, with little margin for error when it comes to providing a fresh look to an already appreciated logo. There’ve been plenty of cases in recent years where a rebrand of a beloved logo has flopped and led to uncontrolled fan outrage, with Leeds United, LA Chargers, and UNLV being a few headliners. It’s a bad look all around, costs plenty of money, and is a pretty easy way to alienate members of your fanbase who felt their voice and opinion was overlooked.

And given how proud the Wake Forest fanbase is of its unique mascot, I wasn’t sure how open Deacs would be to a potential change to the Deacon Head Logo.

It turns out a lot more open than I would’ve thought. 71% of you seemed at least intrigued by a change, with 14% stating the update should happen sooner rather than later. That leaves around 13 of the fanbase as strongly opposed to a rebrand of the Deacon Head logo, and while that number may seem firm right now, I’m sure some could be convinced if the adjustment felt just right.

Enter this mock-up. This redesign began floating around the internet last fall and received rave reviews from Deacon Fans on Twitter when it was released. It’s modern without feeling inauthentic, and in fact has a “retro” side to it as well given the shape and style mirrors the original Deacon Head logo from the 70’s and 80’s.

Is a rebrand potentially already in the works? Is that why the logo at the center of the Joel Coliseum had the Deacon Head removed entirely? It could all be a coincidence, or it could be something worth revisiting at next year’s ‘Pulse of the Fanbase’ to see where everyone stands.

What was your favorite Wake Forest Sports Moment of 2018?

Another poll, another Wake Forest Football answer finishing on top. The thrilling Birmingham Bowl victory to capture a 3rd postseason win in 3 years took the top spot in 2018, followed by The Rally in Raleigh with 40% of the vote. Both of these moments featured Game-Winning Touchdowns in the final minute of regulation and gave Deacon Fans memories they won’t soon forget. They also helped Jamie Newman cement himself in Wake Forest Football folklore with two of the clutchest performances by a QB in Black and Gold we’ve seen in a long time. Here’s to more moments like this in 2019 on the gridiron for the Deacs.

If Wake Forest was going to add a new Men’s and Women’s Athletic program, which combo would you be most intrigued by?

At this point, the number of times I’ve heard a non-WFU fan say a form of the phrase “Wait, Wake doesn’t have lacrosse?” is in the hundreds. It’s a fair question to ask, given the fact that the University has a number of qualities (Academic prestige, Warm weather, Northeast Pipeline) that would make it fairly attractive to potential coaches and players alike.

The main obstacles of course are 1) The additional cost to launch two new programs from scratch, particularly with minimal revenue upside and 2) The huge barrier to entry for the Men’s Team to join the ACC from the beginning. All 5 ACC Men’s Lacrosse teams are ranked in the Coaches Poll Top 15 at the time of this article, with years of history, facility developments, and recruiting pipelines to utilize. The jump up for a Wake program with only a few years of sustained success at the Club DII level would be humongous, and the team would have a hard time remotely competing in the conference for at least 5-6 years.

It’s a fun conversation to have regardless, and further down the line it’s an idea that may come to fruition, particularly if the school gradually expands as expected. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Which of these accomplishments comes first for Wake Forest Athletics?

For the second year in a row, the Wake Forest fanbase has chosen a “National Title in Men’s Soccer” for this question — In all honesty, Vegas would probably declare it the favorite too if it had any say. Over half of Deacon Nation picked Men’s Soccer winning the Natty (58%), followed by three options all between 12-17% for Men’s Basketball, Baseball, and Football. Ever since Bobby Muuss’ arrival in 2015, the Deacs have been one of the most consistently elite teams in college soccer and have earned the #1 overall seed in the NCAA’s 2 out of the last 3 seasons. It’s easy to consider Wake one of the favorites to win the title any given season, and with a ton of returning pieces and a Top 5 recruiting class inbound, 2019 might just be the year they add that 2nd star above the crest.

Roll the Quad: Check all options that you would qualify as moments where Wake fans should take part in the tradition?

What’s the optimal frequency of Rolling the Quad after a Wake Forest accomplishment? Part of the fun is the spontaneity of the whole thing, and assigning rules to when/how one does it certainly seems like unnecessary structure to an emotionally-sparked moment. And yet if we just start rolling the quad after every win for all sports, it dilutes the experience and overall value of the tradition. The fanbase is never going to 100% agree on all things “Quad Rolling”, but we at least now have some direction as to where most people stand on the activity. Here were a few notes from the results:

  • National Titles across all sports should be celebrated appropriately. 90% of fans said when these accomplishments are about to happen, the toilet paper should on standby.
  • Around 13 of fans think Rivalry or Top 25 Victories should lead to a Quad Roll across all sports, while over 50% are in favor if they take place in Football or Basketball
  • Lastly, 13% of you think ACC wins across ALL programs should lead to decorating the trees. We’d probably have to increase our toilet paper budget for the semester by 10x, but I’m here for this type of enthusiasm on Deacon Sports. We may never see another leaf on those things again, but at least it’ll look cool all year long.

What type of content would you like more of from the BSD Staff in 2019?

We here at BSD are always looking to improve and provide the best online Wake Forest fan community possible. I love being able to use this survey as a way to see where we can continue to get better and provide content that is both accessible and engaging to our readers. The theme that stood out in this year’s poll was related to more frequent Q&A Mailbag/Chat Discussion threads on the site, which are an area we’ve dabbled in over the last few years, but certainly are open to growing as a part of our platform moving forward.

Deacon Fan BSD Content Preferences

  1. Q&A Mailbag Articles on Recruiting, Predictions, & Stats (494 1st Place Votes)
  2. BSD Staff Roundtable and Chat Discussion Threads
  3. Consistent Updates on Wake Forest’s Non-Revenue Sports
  4. Live Content Through Different Channels (Facebook Live, Podcasts, etc)

These articles allow us to provide different perspectives from our writers and can be a fresh format away from the traditional features we put up on the site. As always, we appreciate each and every one of you for the support of Blogger So Dear, and are excited to continue to make BSD your go-to site for Wake Forest Sports Analysis, Discussion, and Insights.

Thanks for reading this year’s Pulse of the Fanbase and for all your support throughout these last few weeks! Here’s to hoping at this point next year we Deacon Fans have plenty of great moments to reflect on and be excited about moving forward. Go Deacs!