The thing that must be understood, first and foremost, about Wake Forest University is that it is neither in the town of Wake Forest (located in Wake County), nor is it in a forest. It is, however, located in the barren downtown shithole tundra that is Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a city so thoroughly uninteresting that if you google “Things to do in Winston-Salem”, one of the top 10 results is “Shell Gas Station”. The area’s major contribution to the Confederate Civil War effort was surrendering to cavalry in 1865.
However, just this past year, the Demon Deacons – “Demon Deacon” apparently being local slang for “Clint Eastwood Lookalike In A Tall Hat Who Looks Like He’s About To Burst A Blood Vessel” – committed one of the greatest crimes against football in the history of the game. I refer, of course, to their 3-0 triumph on October 15 over a hapless Boston College team that managed to go entirely winless in ACC conference play. The game was so bad that it was won because of BC’s inability to properly execute spiking the ball at the Wake Forest goal line. Let’s read that again: Wake Forest won because the other team couldn’t even drop the ball properly. And that was arguably their best win of the year.
Then again, that’s pretty much Wake Forest football in a nutshell. The third-winningest coach in school history has 29 wins. That was Bill Dooley, he was there for six seasons, and as soon as he had a good one, he retired. Jim Caldwell had one decent year there. Then again, Caldwell’s now coaching the Detroit Lions, and if there’s any team that can claim to be the Wake Forest of the NFL, it’s Detroit. Two-time ACC Coach of the Year Al Groh had a single six-win season there. And then there’s Jim Grobe, currently filling the smoldering wreck of a seat formerly occupied by the criminally oblivious Art Briles at Baylor. Grobe is widely remembered as perhaps the greatest football coach in Wake Forest history, the man who led the Deacs to an unprecedented run of glory where they won the ACC, went to a BCS bowl game, and were generally a force to be reckoned with in the ACC.
This, incidentally, is all true. What is also true is that they lost that lone Orange Bowl appearance, and that there were three losing seasons before that brief run, and five more after. The good patch largely coincided with the presence of Riley Skinner at QB, and once he graduated, so did the good times. All of which is a roundabout way of saying that the odds of this year’s 3-0 start continuing are only slightly higher than the ones Joe Johnston had at Averasboro.
If one is to be honest, the real problem with hating Wake Forest football is that there is so very little to hate. Of all the Power 5 schools, Wake is the smallest. Of all the Power 5 stadiums, Wake’s – which looks like someone dipped some high school bleachers in concrete – is the smallest. Those snobbish carpetbaggers at Duke look at Wake’s facilities and titter to themselves over their cucumber sandwiches, never mind that Wake handled the Blue Devils decisively this year. It’s the principle of the thing, you see.
WAKE FOREST’S NEXT TUSSLE WITH THE BIG TEN: A bowl game or maybe a postseason basketball tournament
SHERMAN’S NEXT TARGET: Eastern Carolina University