The Deacs are 5-1.
That’s right, the same football team whose mettle I questioned after weeks 1 and 2 of this season is one step away from becoming bowl-eligible. Amidst my surprise and overall giddiness Saturday night, I opined on the Twitter machine that not only should Dave Clawson and his staff receive pay raises without hesitation, but also that the Deacs ‘D’ could give Florida State a problem. I was immediately taken to task for that by my good friend (and play-by- play guy extraordinaire) Spencer Turkin.
A little background here: I’ve lived most of my life in North Carolina- almost 30 years in the Triad. I’ve been following Wake Forest sports since Jay Venuto was the Demon Deacs’ quarterback in the 70s. I’ve seen great football a couple of years, good football sometimes, bad football many years…and unthinkably bad football at times. In short, I’m programmed to hope for the best, expect the worst, and enjoy any form of success when it comes.
For example, I had just gotten a new job when Wake Forest won the ACC Championship in Jacksonville. I moved my start date so it wouldn’t conflict with the Orange Bowl. I wasn’t missing that game, no matter what. My new boss, also a long-time North Carolina resident, didn’t blink and moved it a week. He got it.
I’m not unlike most Wake Forest followers my age: I want them to make a bowl game more often than not and contend for a division championship and a national ranking every so often. The history of the football program looks a lot like (credit and apologies to my friends at Blogger So Dear) Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown. That’s why I’m so excited that the Deacs are halfway through 2016 and already knocking on the door of the bowl game.
And yes, I know that the schedule hasn’t been Murderer’s Row. But, you play the cards you’re dealt, okay? The power schools of the ACC weren’t exactly on point back in 2006 ( see: State, Florida) but Jim Grobe’s charges still had to go out there and win the games. Specifically, they beat the ‘Noles at the
Doak 30-0 but I’m just Kermit sipping some tea.
Folks in the Twitterverse love the argument “____ ain’t played nobody.” Fine. But I’m not campaigning to put the Deacs in the CFP. Not at all. I’m also not trying to be what the younger guys call, “Little Old Wake Forest.” While I hope and expect that Wake Forest University is making an effort to cultivate a top-level program on the gridiron, I don’t expect the Deacs to be Alabama.
If they beat Army West Point, Virginia and Boston College then they get to 8 wins and a pretty decent bowl game. That is a remarkable accomplishment, given the state of things when Clawson and Co. took over. In the preseason, many (including myself) said that the schedule set up well for a Wake bowl bid.
But I had my doubts that this crew was ready enough offensively to get there. I was wrong. Clawson wasn’t lying when he said that this was the most talented team he’d had at Wake Forest. They also play well together, and have handled some adversity (read: injuries) quite well.
I guess what I mean is…man, this is fun!
Even if they go out and lay an egg (or get it beaten out of them) in Tallahassee this week, this has been the breakthrough season Wake fans were looking for. And as a veteran of some horrendous football seasons, I implore you to enjoy it immensely. Setting the bar too high in Winston is a dangerous thing, left only to the trained professional. And, let’s be honest: would we know how to act if Wake Forest had a football program like Ohio State’s or Alabama’s?
This weekend, the Alabama groupchat during their beat-down of Arkansas featured fans that were completely disgruntled and miserable even while their Tide were dominating. Is that what we want to become?