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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
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|Coach Jim Grobe says the Demon Deacons are moving in the right direction.|
Here's the latter half of my Q&A session with Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe.
What more would you like to accomplish, and how far away do you think you are from it?
Jim Grobe: Of course the ultimate is you go through a regular season and you don't ever lose. Everybody is hoping when you start the season that you can win all your games. The older I get, the harder losing is on me. I absolutely can't hardly deal with it as an old guy. As a younger guy, I thought I had so many games left in me. When you get older, all of the experiences you had makes the losses so much tougher.
I think from our perspective is to realize that a couple of good seasons certainly doesn't make a program. We don't want to be considered a school that had a couple of good seasons and that was it. The proof comes over a period of time. I don't know how long a time that is; for us, it's probably not measured in wins each year as much as its measured in the success the years bring year after year after year. I'd like to get to the point where every year people say, 'Hey, Wake Forest could be a pretty good football team this year. If we could get to that point -- and we're moving in that direction -- I thought last year was a big step for us. After winning an ACC championship, I'm sure there were a lot of people out there that felt like that was a fluke year and we couldn't come back and be that kind of team again. We lost a couple of games we very easily could've won. We ended up winning nine games, but could've been better. I think we're moving on that path to where people starting looking at us and say, 'Hey, that's a pretty good football program,' but I don't think we're there yet. The proof will be over the next few years. If we can continue to win more than we lose, continue to go to bowl games and once in a while be in a position where we can compete for a championship, then I think we can feel like that's a good direction to go in.
You've obviously attracted the interest of other programs, but the whole Arkansas thing made it seem like Wake is the place for you. Why is that?
JG: The smart thing for me to do is to at least be open to talk to other people. My main motivation is to try to make sure that Wake Forest is the best place for us to be. I've got a group of coaches that love coaching here, we've got an administration that appreciates us, we've got a group of fans that appreciate us. I think our wives and our families are happy here. I'm certainly happy here. My wife Holly is happy here.
I think in order to make a move, you don't just make a move to move. You've got to have some good, solid reasons to do that. There maybe a job somewhere that would hit me over the head and be a slam dunk, but so far I just feel like Wake Forest is the place for us to be. I love our players, the kids we're coaching now are kids that we recruited. I look forward to seeing them every day. I think they're having fun, our coaches are having fun. We're still in a position at Wake Forest where our fans still really appreciate every win. That's not true at a lot of places. You might win a game, but they're not happy because you didn't win it the right way. I think at Wake Forest right now if we win 49-48 or 3-0 our fans our happy, and that's a good thing. I think feeling appreciated and feeling like you're moving in the right direction -- we're doing great things with our facilities right now, we're doing some really cool stuff over at our stadium, we've done some good stuff on campus. Ron Wellman, my athletic director, has got a great vision for all sports at Wake Forest and football is an important part of that. It's just a good place to be: great people, great kids on our team. I think the bottom line for me is I'd have to find a place that I felt like was a better place for all of us to be, not just Jim Grobe, and that hasn't happened yet.
What has changed most about the ACC since you've been coaching in it?
JG: Certainly the makeup of the teams. I played at Virginia. I played in the ACC, and of course we didn't have Florida State, we didn't have Virginia Tech, Boston College or Miami. What's pretty amazing about the Atlantic Coast Conference right now is the talent level. If you look at the guys that have gone into the NFL over the past few years, you'll find that the ACC has had more first-round draft picks ... more guys taken in the seven rounds, some of those kind of things, not every year, certainly.
I think if you look at it overall, I thought we had pretty good players back when I was playing. From my standpoint, and not that we've just added four really good teams to the league, but overall I think you're seeing a league that's very talented. You know every Saturday when you take the field, you're not going to look across the sideline and expect to see anything but great players. Every school in our league has really good players, and I think that's probably the thing that stands out to me, is the talent level in the ACC.
What do you love most about this game?
JG: More than anything else, I love playing the game. I wasn't the biggest, fastest, strongest guy, and I wasn't the best player, but I loved playing the game. I'm still of that mentality. I tell our players all the time I'd much rather be playing than coaching. I'd give them all the whistle right now and let them do the coaching and I'd go play. Of course, we'd lose every game if I was playing, but just being a kid, still loving the game, wishing I was playing more than I was coaching. It's something you look forward to every year. The thing for me that is really cool is the season is more fun than anytime of the year. Some people feel like there's so much involved in the season that the seasons are the grind part of your job, but for me just looking forward to the competition, being able to take your team out and compete every Saturday is pretty cool.
Playoff or no playoff?
JG: I have no real thoughts against a playoff, I just really want anything that happens to be as inclusive of as many teams as possible. I know how excited our guys have been to play in bowl games. I never had the opportunity to do that back when I was playing. I coached a couple teams at Ohio University that had enough wins to go to a bowl game, but we didn't have the opportunity. There just weren't enough opportunities for the Mid-American Conference at that time. I think they've got three or four opportunities maybe now, the Mid-American Conference. I just think it's really cool for guys to have a chance to play in a bowl game.
If we didn't cut off opportunities for the majority of players to figure out some way -- whether it's plus-one or whatever to take the top four, top eight, whatever -- I wouldn't be opposed to that as long as we didn't cut down on opportunities for kids to go to a bowl game. I don't think there's anything more rewarding for a kid at the end of the season to feel like he's had a goo
d year and he gets rewarded for it, much like a lot of the other sports are very inclusive of other teams and their playoff systems. If we could have some type of, maybe it's an abbreviated playoff, but if we could have something that includes as many teams as we have right now in bowl games and figure out a way to add one or two games at the end of the year, if that would make everybody feel like we've got more of a national champion, I'd be fine with that, I just want our kids to have as good an opportunity to play in the postseason than other schools.