clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson cites “lack of leadership” for “insane” state of conference realignment

Clawson called talks of Wake Forest being left behind “a lazy narrative”

WINSTON-SALEM, NC – Conference realignment, spurred on by the constantly changing and redeveloping nature of college football, has turned into an omnipresent part of the game. Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC, UCLA and USC to the Big Ten, then Oregon and Washington, Arizona State, Arizona, Utah and Colorado to the Big 12 — the list goes on and on.

Most recently, the ACC has stepped into the realignment ring, heavily discussing the potential additions of California and Stanford from the PAC-12, as well as picking up SMU from the American. This endeavor has been going on for weeks. It appeared to initially have some weight behind it, before later losing steam when the requisite number of supporting votes reportedly could not be reached.

But now, per reports from Yahoo Sports’ Ross Dellenger just hours ago, the hopes of bringing in three new conference members are alive once more, and a meeting between school presidents is expected to occur Monday evening “to discuss and potentially take action.”

Most, if not all, of these decisions are made on an administrative level, but in his opening pregame press conference of the 2023 season, Wake Forest football coach Dave Clawson proved that coaching staffs are not immune to the news cycles and rumor mills.

“I think it’s insane that eight schools on the west coast are in three different Power Five conferences that are located in the central [United States], the midwest and now the atlantic coast,” Clawson said when prompted about the reports regarding additions to the ACC. “That’s the way it is.”

And there is, of course, reasons why things are the way they currently stand. Chief among them, a lack of leadership and direction in a time when college athletics needed, and still needs, it most.

“There’s no common sense in this at all,” Clawson said. “This is what happens when you don’t have leadership, and I don’t mean conference leadership. I’ve said for years, there needs to be a commissioner of college football that looks out for the best interest of the entire enterprise. We’re making moves that don’t make sense because we lack leadership.”

“It’s nobody’s fault,” Clawson continued. “Everybody is doing what their job is. The SEC commissioner is doing his job by adding Texas and Oklahoma, the Big Ten commissioner’s doing his job and the Big 12 [commissioner Brett Yormark] aggressively did things to save his league. Athletic directors are expected to raise money and find resources. So they’re doing their job.”

During the most recent conference realignment discussions, especially those involving the ACC being piecemealed by the supposed departures of Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina and others in the future, Wake Forest has consistently been referred to as a name that could be left behind.

“If you look at the wins, if you look at our television ratings, I think it’s just a lazy narrative that’s being put out there by other people,” Clawson responded. “That fits their narrative, it doesn’t mean it’s an accurate narrative.”

With the current state of the game a great cause of concern, Clawson acknowledged that the ACC is involved and working hard to remain competitive.

“I think our commissioner is being proactive and doing a great job to make sure that the ACC continues to be a powerful conference,” he said. “I think some things have come out today about what happens if we drop below 15 teams [revenue reductions per Action Network’s Brett McMurphy]. I think this is a proactive move to make sure that the ACC continues to exist. And I think whatever is good for the ACC is good for Wake Forest.”

“If it [Cal, Stanford and SMU joining] happens, I think it’s a good move,” Clawson added. “It’s a good move because it secures the ACC and I think ACC is a great league and a great conference with great rivalries and I’d hate to see those disappear.”

The cost of all these actions, which the ACC has been forced to join in on, could be massive. The sport itself, while raking in truckloads of cash, likely will suffer as a result.

“At what point these people are willing to give up control to do what’s best for all of college football,” Clawson asked. “I don’t see that happening. So this is what we’re dealing with.”