WakeForesthead football coach Jim Grobe is entering his 12th season at the helm of Demon Deacon football in 2012.
After 11 seasons, Grobe has built a football program that has been to bowl games in four of the last six years and proven itself to be an annual contender for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
Grobe has taken the Deacons where no previousWakeForestfootball coach has gone. He has led the Deacons to more bowl games, more eight-win seasons, and more bowl victories than any coach in school history. Grobe and the Deacons put together a three-year streak of winning seasons which had not been accomplished in over 50 years. The Deacons’ 33 wins from 2006-09 are the most wins ever during a four-year period.
With a record of 68-67 atWakeForest, Grobe is the first Deacon coach in more than 50 years with a career record over .500.
The success of the Deacons over the last 11 seasons comes as no surprise to those who have watched Grobe build theWakeForestprogram from the ground up. He turned the Deacons into a championship team within his first six seasons.
There have been numerous notable achievements by Grobe and his staff. Among those are the 11 wins and the ACC Championship claimed by the 2006 team, along with a trip to the FedEx Orange Bowl. Linebacker Aaron Curry and punter Ryan Plackemeier have been honored with national awards signifying their supremacy as the best player in the nation at their position.
The 2011 season saw the Deacons return to a bowl game for the fourth time in six years as the team went to the Franklin American Mortgage Company Music City Bowl and put together a 5-3 ACC record as well as a 6-7 overall record during a turnaround season.WakeForestset a school record for passing yards (3,291) and took care of the ball well – a Jim Grobe trademark – tying for first nationally with national championAlabamain fewest fumbles lost (4) and surrendering just 12 turnovers to tie for third in the country.
Grobe also achieved a milestone 100th career win in the Deacons’ 24-23 win at Duke on October 22, 2011. Peahead Walker stands as the only otherWakeForestfootball coach reached 100 victories for his career; Grobe will enter the 2012 season just nine wins behindWalkeron the school’s all-time win list (77-68).
In 2010, Grobe guided a young Deacon squad through a rigorous schedule. The highlight of the season came in a thrilling 54-48 victory over Duke, which set a number of scoring records. The win was also Grobe’s 10th-straight over the Blue Devils.
The 2009 season, which ended with a 5-7 record, wasWakeForest’s first sub-.500 season since 2005. But the Deacons were oh-so-close to having far more W’s than L’s in 2009.
The Deacons lost a pair of road overtime games by three points each, atBostonCollegeand at Georgia Tech. The Deacs were one play away from OT wins in both games. Wake also dropped a three-point decision at home to Baylor, yielded a late touchdown toMiamiin a 28-27 loss and dropped a 13-10 decision at Navy in a driving rainstorm.WakeForest’s seniors graduated with 33 career wins, the most victories of any class in school history.
WakeForest’s offense was one of the most productive in school history. The Deacons rolled up nearly 5,000 yards of total offense behind senior quarterback Riley Skinner. Skinner set school records for the most passing yards and passing touchdowns in a season.
Cornerback Brandon Ghee and offensive tackle Chris DeGeare were both selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, while Skinner and defensive tackles John Russell and Boo Robinson signed free agent contracts.
In 2008, Grobe led the Deacons to an 8-5 record and a victory over Navy in the inaugural EagleBank Bowl.
In April of 2009, the NFL drafted four seniors fromWakeForest’s stellar defense, marking the most Deacons taken in a single NFL Draft in over 50 years. Aaron Curry was the fourth player selected in the first round of the draft after having won the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker.
Cornerback Alphonso Smith was a second round pick toDenverafter being the only ACC player named a consensus All-America in 2008. Safety Chip Vaughn and linebacker Stanley Arnoux were drafted by the eventual Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints.
In 2007, Grobe directed the Deacons to a 9-4 record including a 24-10 win overConnecticutin the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Among the nine wins in 2007 were victories overNorth Carolina, NC State and Duke. Never before hadWakeForestswept the Big Four series in consecutive seasons. And never before had Wake won as many as 20 games in just two seasons.
WakeForest’s success in 2007 was not limited to the field. The Deacons had their first Academic All-America football player in 25 years when offensive tackle Louis Frazier was named to the first team.
Wake’s defense held opponents to less than 300 yards of total offense in 2008, the best performance since 1964. The defense led the nation in takeaways while the special teams excelled by topping all Division I institutions in punt return defense.
WakeForestwas successful in 2007 because of an efficient offense and an opportunistic defense. The Deacons led the nation in non-offensive touchdowns, scoring on six interception returns, two fumble returns, a kickoff return and a punt return. Wake’s eight defensive touchdowns were also the most of any FBS team in the country. Offensively, the Deacons set a school record for the most points scored in a season and tied the school mark with 44 touchdowns.
The 2006 season was one to remember for allWakeForestfans. Grobe ledWakeForestto its second-ever ACC Championship and its first since 1970. The Deacons won the ACC’s Atlantic Division title after being picked to finish last by the league’s media in the preseason.
The 11 wins posted by the 2006 team set a school record as Wake was the most improved team in the nation, following a 4-7 record in 2005. The Deacs were ranked in the AP top 25 for nine straight weeks in 2006, the longest streak in school history and beatFloridaStateinTallahasseefor the first time since 1959 while posting their first win overN.C.StateinRaleighsince 1984.
Grobe’s hard work was rewarded by his unanimous selection as the ACC Coach of the Year. He was selected as the National Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association, the Bobby Dodd Foundation, the Associated Press, The Sporting News and CBSSports.com.
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Grobe was hired in December 2000 to take over a Demon Deacon football program long regarded as an afterthought in the ACC. He inherited aWakeForestprogram that won only 38 games in the 1990’s.
Football observers have recognized Grobe’s efforts in transformingWakeForestinto one of the rising programs, not just in the ACC, but on a regional and national level.
The levels of excitement and expectation surrounding Demon Deacon football have reached unprecedented heights. That is a tribute to Grobe and his staff who believe the best is yet to come.
Grobe, 59, has gained a national reputation as a builder of programs.
In 10 seasons, Grobe’s teams have won 62 contests, earned four bowl berths and won an ACC Championship.
That is particularly impressive given the recent ACC expansion that introduced three nationally-prominent programs to the league.
Even with the rising level of play in the conference, making the ACC one of the nation’s best football leagues, Wake Forest has become even more competitive and successful.
Football observers have already recognized Grobe’s efforts in transforming Wake into one of the rising programs, not just in the ACC, but on a regional and national basis.
“Ever since Jim Grobe arrived inWinston-Salem, this program has been soaring upward,” ESPN’s Ron Franklin said.
Long beforeWakeForest’s breakout season in 2006, the Deacons had performed very well against in-state opponents. Since Grobe’s arrival,WakeForesthas defeated every Division I opponent in the state, including a 5-0 mark against East Carolina, 10-0 vs. Duke, 4-2 vs.North Carolina, 5-5 vs. NC State, plus victories against I-AA Appalachian State, Elon and North Carolina A&T. In all, Grobe’s Deacons are 27-7 against in-state teams.
In short, Grobe has putWakeForestin position to be extremely competitive in one ofAmerica’s best football leagues, the ACC, for many years to come.
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Grobe owns a 62-60 record after 10 years at Wake Forest, 95-93-1 in 16 overall seasons as a head coach.Before Grobe arrived at WFU, the Deacons went a combined 37-75 in the 10 previous years.
The 2006 ACC Championship season was certainly a magical one, but it was years in the making.
Grobe began hisWakeForesttenure in impressive fashion, orchestrating one of the greatest turnarounds in program history. While laying the foundation for future gridiron success, he led his first squad to a bowl-eligible 6-5 record afterWakeForestwent 2-9 the previous season.
The Deacons won road games at East Carolina, Duke,VirginiaandNorth Carolinaen route to posting WFU’s second winning season since 1992.
The win overVirginia, Grobe’s alma mater, wasWakeForest’s first over the Cavaliers since 1983. The 32-31 win atNorth Carolinacame after the Deacons trailed the Tar Heels 24-0 at halftime.
A win over Northern Illinois in the 2001 season finale secured the winning season and madeWakeForesteligible for a bowl berth. Grobe became just the eighth rookie head coach at WFU to post a winning record in his first year.
All five losses in 2001 came to bowl-bound teams. In three of those losses – vs.Maryland, NC State and Clemson – the Deacs had the ball with good field position and with a chance to tie or take the lead late in the game.
The 2001 Deacon team averaged 221.6 yards rushing per game – an increase of over 70 yards per game from the previous season. The Deacons led the ACC in rushing, edging out BCS-boundMarylandfor first place and averaged 401.6 yards of total offense per game.
In his second campaign, he guided the Deacs to a 38-17 victory in the Seattle Bowl in front of a national television audience against anOregonteam loaded with NFL talent and that was once ranked as high as sixth in the country.
Grobe became just the second coach inWakeForesthistory, joining John Mackovic, to lead the Deacons to a bowl appearance in his second season at the helm.
Impressive road wins over Purdue and Georgia Tech, in addition to a 31-0 shutout of rivalNorth Carolina, highlighted the 2002 regular season campaign. The year was capped off with the victory overOregoninSeattleto give WFU its second straight winning season for the first time since the 1987-88 seasons.
Once again,WakeForestled the ACC in rushing (241.2 ypg) and also averaged a league-high 408.1 yards of total offense per game in 2002. It marked the first time WFU led the ACC in total offense since 1979.
In what many termed a rebuilding year, Grobe got the 2003 edition of Deacon football off to an exciting 2-0 start, with a road win at Boston College and a home victory over 11th-ranked NC State, his first win over a ranked opponent at Wake Forest. That led to another career first for Grobe, as the Deacs themselves earned a national ranking the following week.
Grobe reached another milestone in the 2003 season, recording his 50th career victory with a 42-13 win at Duke.
In 2004, the Deacons fielded a very young team that competed hard each week and captured the imagination of Deacon fans, as the single season attendance record was broken for the third straight year.
Wake knocked off bowl-bound BC for the second straight season. The Deacons posted a three-game winning streak in September, its first such streak since 1992.
WakeForestseemed to be on the verge of bursting onto the national scene each week, as the Deacons were tied or leading in nine of the 11 games. The Deacons had a chance to knock off eventual ACC Champion Virginia Tech and fifth-rankedFloridaStateat BB&T Field, but lost both games by a combined 10 points. Against a treacherous schedule in the newly-expanded ACC,WakeForestposted a 4-7 record.
Five Deacons earned All-ACC honors, including first team selections Chris Barclay and Ryan Plackemeier.
The 2005 Deacs had 26 freshmen and sophomores in the two-deep roster.WakeForestshowed flashes of brilliance with victories against NC State and Clemson, but could not overcome inexperience and a slow start, finishing 4-7.
For the fourth time in five seasons, the Deacons led the ACC in rushing.
Individually, Barclay led the ACC in rushing during the regular season for a third straight year, becoming the first player in the long history of the league to accomplish that feat. In doing so, he broke the school’s all-time rushing record and was chosen as the ACC’s Player of the Year, the first Deacon player to do that in 26 years.
Plackemeier earned consensus All-America honors and won the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter. Josh Gattis was a second-team All-ACC pick.
The magical ACC Championship season of 2006 was well-chronicled. Redshirt freshman QB Riley Skinner, who stepped into the starting role during week two, became the ACC’s Rookie of the Year and a second team All-ACC pick.
Seniors Josh Gattis and Steve Vallos, junior Jon Abbate and Steve Justice and sophomore Sam Swank were all first team All-ACC selections. Seniors Patrick Ghee and Jyles Tucker were honorable mention.
Grobe was the unanimous choice by the media as the ACC Coach of the Year. He was selected as the National Coach of the Year by his peers, the American Football Coaches Association, in addition to the Bobby Dodd Foundation and the Associated Press.
When asked about his accomplishments or his coaching style, Grobe deflects his success to his players and to his coaching staff who he frequently refers to as, “the best coaching staff inAmerica.”
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Grobe wasted no time in assembling his staff after he was hired atWakeForeston Dec. 11, 2000. He brought eight assistants with him fromOhio, five of whom enter their ninth season atWakeForest.
For most of the staff, their loyalty to Grobe and each other pre-dates their days inWinston-Salemor evenAthens. It’s a brand of loyalty and stability rarely seen in college football.
Assistant head coach Billy Mitchell has coached alongside Grobe since 1984 at Air Force. A few years later, they successfully recruited a high school player named Steed Lobotzke who eventually earned two letters and took a job as a graduate assistant at the Academy. Today, he isWakeForest’s offensive coordinator.
Recruiting coordinator Ray McCartney and defensive ends coach Keith Henry both joined Grobe’s staff at Ohio in 1995 and have served alongside him ever since.
Brian Knorr and Steve Russ both have long ties to Grobe. Knorr was a quarterback at Air Force while Grobe was coaching the Falcon linebackers. Russ was a standout linebacker with Grobe as his position coach.
Since Grobe arrived atWakeForestin 2001, only five assistant coaches have left. Troy Calhoun,WakeForest’s two-year offensive coordinator, left and is now the head coach at the Air Force Academy.
Wake’s seven-year defensive coordinator, Dean Hood, became the head coach atEastern Kentuckyfollowing the 2007 season.
Quarterbacks coach Jeff Mullen was named the offensive coordinator atWest Virginiaupon the hiring of Bill Stewart in 2008. And Brad Lambert, who was the Deacon’s defensive coordinator for three seasons, was named the first head coach at UNC Charlotte in the spring of 2011.
Since arriving atWakeForest, Grobe has hired Tom Elrod, a former Deacon quarterback who served as a graduate assistant during Grobe’s first season in 2001. Tim Billings joined the staff prior to the 2006 season. The former head coach atSoutheastMissouriState,Billingsspent 10 years atMarshalland overlapped during that time with Lambert. Grobe’s most recent hire is Lonnie Galloway, who joined the Deacons in the spring of 2011.Gallowaywill coach the wide receivers and serve as the co-passing game coordinator with Elrod.
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Grobe came toWakeForestafter turning a strugglingOhioUniversityprogram into a contender for the Mid-American Conference championship.
In the 10 seasons before Grobe left his assistant’s position at the Air Force Academy to becomeOhioUniversity’s head coach, the Bobcats won 17 games. In the six years under Grobe, they won 33 and finished with winning records in the Mid-American Conference five straight seasons.
Grobe coached atOhiofor six years (1995-2000). After taking over the reigns of a program that went 0-11 and was ranked last among Division I-A programs in 1994, Grobe led the Bobcats to a cumulative six-year record of 33-33-1.
A 1975UniversityofVirginiagraduate, Grobe gained valuable experience as an assistant to Fisher DeBerry at the Air Force Academy prior to going toOhio. He served as linebackers coach from 1984 to 1994, during which time the Falcons produced a record of 84-50 and appeared in seven bowl games.
“I was fortunate to play for and coach with some outstanding people,” Grobe said. “Everything I know I learned from someone else. Qualities like hard work, loyalty, discipline and toughness are things we take pride in atWakeForest.
“At the same time, I don’t think any team or staff has more fun playing or coaching than our guys.”
In 2000, Grobe’s final season with the Bobcats,Ohioposted impressive victories over bowl teamsMinnesotaand Marshall and closed the season by winning five of its last six games. Statistically, the Bobcats ranked in the top 30 nationally in 2000 in rushing offense (323.0 ypg), 18th in fewest turnovers lost (18), 20th in scoring defense (18.9 ppg), 25th in total offense (418.1 ypg) and 30th in scoring offense (31.18 ppg). The Bobcats also ranked high nationally in two special teams categories – fourth in net punting (39.7 ypp) and 39th in punting returns (11.95 ypr). Grobe’s team produced the best fourth down conversion numbers in the MAC.
“We see nothing but good things happening for our program,” director of athletics Ron Wellman said at Grobe’s hiring. “Jim Grobe is a good fit forWakeForestin what he believes about the academic process and the importance of education and graduating his players.”
Grobe also worked previously as an assistant coach atMarshall(1979-83) for head coach Sonny Randle and at Emory & Henry (1978) for head coach Jerry Kirk. He began his coaching career at his alma mater,Virginia, in 1975 after talking head coach Sonny Randle into hiring him as a graduate assistant.
One year later, he was head coach atLibertyHigh SchoolinBedford,Va., from 1976-77.
As a player atVirginiain 1973 under coach Don Lawrence and 1974 under Randle, Grobe played middle guard (1973) and linebacker (1974). He was a two-year starter and was named Academic All-ACC.
Before enrolling atVirginia, Grobe played under coach Hank Norton for two seasons at Ferrum (VA) Junior College, where he played linebacker on the undefeated Coastal Conference championship team. Grobe earned the Catlin Citizenship Award and the Big Green Award. In the fall of 2002, Grobe was inducted into the Ferrum College Hall of Fame.
“I don’t know if there’s anybody who loves the game more than I do,” Grobe said. “I’d still rather be playing. The players don’t get it, but I tell them that all the time. I’m just a big kid who can’t play anymore.”
Grobe was born on Feb. 17, 1952. A native ofHuntington,W.Va., Grobe earned his undergraduate degree (B.S.) in education fromVirginiain 1975 and earned a master’s degree in guidance and counseling fromVirginiain 1978.
Grobe and his wife, Holly, have two sons, Matt and Ben.
Matt is a 1995Marshallgraduate who is the Head Golf Professional at DragonRidge Country Club inLas Vegas. He and his wife, Melanie, have a daughter, Mackenzie (13), and a son, Cameron (9).
Ben graduated fromOhioUniversityin 2002 where he played football and earned a degree in Health Care Administration. Ben coaches the linebackers atHoughHigh SchoolinCornelius,N.C.