Is Wake Forest’s Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

What is wrong with Wake Forest Football? Well for starters, the Demon Deacons have backed themselves in a corner in order to make post season play; with two more games left on the football horizon.  First the Deacons have to take on the “red hot” Duke Blue Devils 8-2, who have knocked off two ranked teams, one being the 24th ranked Miami Hurricanes last Saturday, to take over the Coastal Division and a chance to follow the 2006 Wake Forest Demon Deacons footsteps to the ACC Championship. The following week, the Deacs head to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt in the SEC.   Wake Forest “must” win their last two games to become bowl eligible.  They stand at 2-5 in the conference and 4-6 overall.

Wake Forest bounced back after their big loss to Clemson by reeling off two back-to-back wins against NC State and Maryland.  They went went into Miami to take on the then-7th ranked Hurricanes, but Miami came back from a 21-17 deficit late in the 4th quarter to win, 24-21.

Against the Syracuse Orangemen, the Demon Deacons lost more than just the game 13-0, the Deacs loss their all time reception leader, Michael Campanaro, with a broken collarbone.  Two weeks prior against Maryland, Campanaro had moved into first place passing Desmond Clark.  He caught his 217th reception to become Wake Forest’s all-time reception leader.  No question, Campanaro has been the best playmaker on the Wake Forest offense and without him, the last two games against teams who are already bowl eligible will be an uphill battle.

What else is wrong with Wake is a threefold answer?  Let’s start with the coaches, and head coach, Jim Grobe.  Grobe who has now been at Wake for thirteen seasons and although he has taken Wake to the ACC Championship and won in 2006, and back to back bowl appearances in 2007, and 2008.  In 2009, Wake finished 5-7, in 2010, and finished even worst at 3-9.  In 2011, they finished 6-6, and played Mississippi State in the Music City Bowl losing 23-17. Coach Grobe’s overall record is 77-80, which means in his thirteen seasons at Wake, he has loss three games more than he has won.  Not since 2011 has Wake Forest been to a bowl game and if they don’t win the last two remaining games, the Demon Deacons will be staying at home again.  Perhaps it’s time for a change with a fresher and more energetic coaching staff.

Secondly, the fans and the atmosphere haven’t been much help either.  From the time my son came to Wake Forest in 2001, the football fan base at Wake Forest leaves plenty to be desired.  When my son came to Wake after transferring from Florida, I knew their fans weren’t even close to the same level of the SEC, but I thought they’d still have crowd support.  I was very wrong.  I couldn’t believe how dull, boring, and quiet the fans were my first WFU football game.  Was I at a golf tournament by mistake?  No, I was at a football game, but you wouldn’t have known it by the crowd.  That is why I started the Wake Forest Football Parent’s Association in 2002, and it’s still going strong today.  I felt that everything started with the parents and if we supported the boys both off the field and on, it would carry over to the fans.

Where are the Wake Forest fans?

Two weeks ago against Florida State, Wake Forest fans were nowhere to be found thirty minutes before the game. I wondered, “Did they sell their tickets to the Florida State fans?” Because when FSU fans were walking in, some of them commented, “Great, another home game.”  I was embarrassed and angry because whether Wake won or not, our fans should have been there to support the team. Not only was the crowd pretty much non-existent, but the stadium activities during breaks in the game really get on my nerves (including everything from the hamster ball race to the bean bag toss); and they even urge fans to keep the noise levels down.  Wake Forest needs to realize that to be a football school and earn respect from other fan bases, you need to carry yourself as one.  If our fans can’t deal with the stadium noise, they need to stay at home.  This is ACC Football and it’s supposed to be loud and rowdy, not quiet and boring.  My son played his last game in December 2005, and yet I come back and cheer just as if he was still out there on the field.

The last thing that is wrong with this football team, the Deacons on the field don’t seem to have the same toughness mentally nor the same heart as past Deacon Football teams.  Don’t get me wrong, the defense this year hasn’t given up lead by the true leader of this team on both sides of the ball, Nikita Whitlock, with Michael Campanaro not far behind but at times; the offense has been deflated and appears to have given up.  Pass Wake Forest teams fought to the very end and the opponents knew they’d been in a dog fight win or lose.  When the Deacs won the ACC Championship game in 2006, the slogan, “WF=We Finish All Four Quarters” and that was exactly what Wake did.

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons need to return to not only playing all four quarters and playing tough , but the fans need to bring it on Saturday at home.  More likely there’ll be more Duke Fans in the bleachers but Wake fans have to let their presence be known in their own stadium, their own house.    After all, the game is going to come down to who wants it more and with Wake needing to win and the Blue Devils wanting to win, it’s anybody’s game but Wake will also have another reason to win.  Last Tuesday, the Wake Forest football family loss offensive guard Chad Rebar, 32, who died of cancer.  Wake will most likely have a moment of silence to honor him before the game.  It would be a great win for the Deacs but also for Chad who loved Wake Forest football! It’s also the last game for our eleven Senior Deacons who should want to go out on a winning note! Go Deacs!!!