I hadn’t been reading the comments on the recap over the last few days. It’s largely because I’ve been really busy with other work pursuits and the like, and also because I don’t always bother to read the feedback. That’s largely because, having written for the site for probably about 12 years now, I’ve only seen conversation about the writing of the article itself maybe 5 times, tops (out of I’m guesstimating hundreds of articles I’ve written for BSD over the years). Most of the time, it’s just conversation back and forth amongst the readers about the game, which can get very spirited. I more or less figured that’s what was going on here. Boy was I wrong.
I want to be clear about a few things. The vast majority of the readers know how long I’ve written here, and I’ve been writing dozens of articles a year for multiple sports for over a decade now. Goodness knows I’ve written some clunkers over the years. But I don’t think I’ve ever had an article generate as much negative feedback and/or comments about me personally (well, as personal as comments about writing can get, anyway) except maybe in the earliest days when I was just writing FanPosts (remember those?). And it bothered me. It didn’t so much bother me because of shots at me (though those never feel great, either), it bothered me because people seemed to wonder whether or not I was questioning what people like Sam Hartman and Coach Clawson have done for the program. And that, well, that’s something I want to clear up, just so nobody gets the wrong idea.
I will stand by the following things said in the article:
- Sam Hartman is an INCREDIBLE quarterback the vast majority of the time. From everything I’ve heard, he’s an even better person. However, Sam is very prone to compounding mistakes. On the rare occasions that Sam has an off day, it tends to be a pretty extreme reversal. I stand by that assertion.
- It’s difficult for me to imagine Wake getting much higher than the occasional brief top ten ranking, but I also think Coach Clawson will consistently have the program in the Top 25. I am beyond fine with that if that’s the state of things. Coach Clawson deserves a job for life with a contract I’ll never even sniff my entire life. That said though, it is very frustrating when the last several years, Wake has looked like one of the best teams in the nation through 6-7 weeks (not counting 2020 there for obvious reasons) only to seriously sputter down the stretch, usually putting up confusingly rough performances along the way. Sometimes there have been injuries, sometimes it’s been bad playcalling or schemes, and sometimes guys have just had bad days (or a mixture thereof). But it’s definitely a pattern, and it’s a frustrating one. I’ll stand by that.
- There’s a reason it’s hard for me to imagine Wake will be able to get much higher than the occasional top 10. Well, more accurately several reasons. One, in the NIL Era (which for the record is something I support from an ethics standpoint), I think the rich will probably get richer in terms of better athletes. I think this will more affect Wake in basketball, because Wake football has always been about building talent rather than splashy signings, but you never know. The flipside of the “get old, stay old” philosophy (which is a smart one for Wake) is that things tend to have peaks and valleys. Admittedly, Coach has done a remarkable job at building depth, but since first getting to campus in 2005, I’ve noticed something of a pattern wherein when legendary players leave, it often takes a while for the teams to build back up, and then there’s a window of 2-3 years for the teams to reach their full potential. COVID has definitely extended this group’s window, but it’s still closing. I really like Mitch Griffis. Our lines on both sides of the ball seem remarkably deep by Wake standards. But Sam Hartman is literally rewriting the record books. That’s not going to just come along again. The chemistry between quarterback, offensive line, and skill positions is a very special thing. Unless you’re one of the blueblood programs of the world, there’s probably going to be a comedown after an era like this. This isn’t me saying Coach doesn’t know what he’s doing or that we’ll never be this good again. It’s me saying that this group is something truly unique, and I think it’ll be some time before we see something with a ceiling this high or higher. I’d love to be wrong, and maybe I will be. Lord knows it wouldn’t be the first time. But it’s concerning.
- I still maintain it was a bad coaching decision to keep Sam in the game after he’d had several turnovers in the third. I’ll die on that hill 100% of the time. Several commenters agreed, so I wasn’t totally out of pocket.
- Things like this game probably would cool off any bigger programs’ interest in poaching the staff. That’s just a fact. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing.
Now here are the things I’d like to clarify, amend, restate, etc.:
- Everybody’s entitled to a bad day. Whether it’s Sam, Coach Clawson, the O-Line, receivers, or everyone. It was a bad day. Just sucks that it happened on the day that Wake Forest was one of the top 10 teams in the country and that it seems to follow the aforementioned pattern, even though it’s almost definitely just an unhappy coincidence.
- Dave Clawson is the best thing to ever happen to Wake Forest football. Sam Hartman’s probably top 10. They’re both amazing at what they do. Absolutely legendary. Better than I’d be, that’s for sure.
- I don’t think Coach Clawson would leave for other programs even if people asked him to. He just seems happy here, seems like that kinda guy, and that’s one of the things I love about him as a coach.
- The original article vastly oversimplified a lot of things, and came off way angrier than it should’ve. That’s on me, and my apologies to the readers, the program, my bosses at SB Nation, players who may have read it, families of players who may have read it (see also: coaches) and my fellow staff. Sure, it wasn’t earth shattering bad, but it wasn’t good, and I made a mistake in posting it rather than, say, drafting something and giving it another look later or something. I’ll keep that in mind in the future when there’s a game that’s less fun to write about. Guess I had a bad day too.
This season has still been incredible, and there’s still a lot to play for. This is among the best Wake Forest football teams ever. If we manage to keep this up at all, it will still hold true that Wake Forest/Clemson II would be the rightful ACC Championship game. Thankfully, something like that will soon be possible, because let’s be honest: the ACC football divisions have been about as lopsided as they can be for darn near their entire existence.
Anyway, I just pray that the Deacs have short memories and don’t let this game beat them twice. Thanks to everyone for their continued readership and support of BSD. See y’all on Saturday.
Oh, and I still hate that this implosion happened against Louisville, and much like the Patriots in the NFL, they’ll always have been caught cheating. Jussayin’.