In Winston Salem, North Carolina, this group of over-achievers is anxiously awaiting their ACC title game match-up with Georgia Tech in Jacksonville on December 2.
It may have taken them four months, but in the end it was the Demon Deacons who had the last laugh on all of us.
You might be asking yourself, how did this happen? How did this private University with barely 5,000 students manage to post a remarkable 10-2 regular season record? How was this tiny school capable of playing the role of giant killer in the ACC, cutting down perennial conference giants Florida State, Boston College, and Maryland?
Well, to understand their success, we must first examine the man that helped them get there.
Before this season, Jim Grobe was a name probably not known by many throughout the college football world. For one, he coaches at a very small University in a state dominated by the cash cow state schools, UNC and NC State. Couple this with Duke's ability to captivate the locals with round ball, and there isn't much room in the state for Demon Deacons football.
However, despite working under the radar, Grobe has quietly put together a nice body of work prior to his 2006 campaign. He entered this season with a respectable mark of 26-31 in his 5-year career at Wake Forest. At a school not exactly known for their football prowess, Grobe was able to stay competitive with an innovative offensive and defensive system.
Hoping to overcome the difference in talent when compared to other ACC teams, Grobe installed a unique spread offense predicated on misdirection and isolation match ups. Reverses, quick screens, and trick plays are some of the many ways Grobe's teams have helped offset opposing defenses speed advantages in the past.
On defense, a 3-3-5 formation was implemented for the Demon Deacons to help compensate for Wake Forest's lack of big, fast defensive lineman, possibly one of the toughest recruits to find. This defensive system only deploys 3 down lineman, which in turn puts a premium on finding athletic, fast defensive backs and linebackers, something Grobe believed was easier to acquire through recruiting.
Using his cutting edge schemes and good old-fashioned hard work, Grobe and the Demon Deacons finally enjoyed their breakout season this year, going 10-2 and winning the Atlantic Division. Preaching smart football and a tough defense, the Deacons allowed an impressive 15 points per game, which ranks them 16th overall in the nation, and 3rd in the ACC.
Making this dream season even more remarkable is the fact that the Deacons have relied on freshman quarterback Riley Skinner for all but one game. After losing opening day starter Ben Mauck to a broken arm, Skinner stepped in and helped guide the Deacons to the Atlantic Division crown. This should come as no surprise though, as getting the most out of his players has been a characteristic of Jim Grobe since he began his coaching career.
Grobe, 54, held the head coaching position at Ohio University prior to arriving in Winston Salem. He compiled a 33-33-1-career record with the Bobcats, finishing his last two seasons with 8-3 and 7-4 records.
A former linebacker, Grobe preaches tough, hard hitting, disciplined defenses. However, he is also an innovator on the offensive side of the ball, where he's mastered a spread attack that forces defenses to defend almost every type of attack. Through his first 6 seasons at Wake Forest, the Deacons are averaging a respectable 25 points a game.
As the day's mount and Chuck Neinas Rolodex spins, a perfect fit for Miami awaits his match-up for the conference championship. A man who gets the most out of his players, despite not being located in a fertile recruiting ground, sits at 10-2.
While Wake Forest's spread offense continues to cause defensive coordinator's headaches, the Cane's continue their search. Perhaps if Miami really wants to find a candidate with the credentials they are looking for, the answer may be as easy as looking in their own conference.
Jim Grobe, an offensive minded disciplinarian that maximizes his talents would be the perfect choice to lead 'The U' back to prominence. The question is, will he get the chance?
Possible Coaching Candidate: Jim Grobe
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