Grobe takes Wake Forest coaching job

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 12, 2000

The Associated Press

Tuesday, December 12, 2000

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Jim Grobe knows a little something about turning around a football program. He’ll have a similar task as the new coach at Wake Forest.

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Grobe, 48, was named Monday night to replace Jim Caldwell, who had one winning season in eight years and was fired Nov. 26.

Ohio University scheduled a news conference for Tuesday when officials planned to name a replacement for Grobe. The school declined on Monday night to identify that person or say whether a member of the current staff was being promoted. ”We’re not going to get into that at all,” said Jim Stephan, a spokesman for the athletics department in Athens, Ohio.

Ohio University was 0-11 the year before Grobe took over in 1995, but finished with a 33-33-1 record in six seasons at the Mid-American Conference school, including victories this season over bowl-bound teams Minnesota and Marshall.

Caldwell wasn’t the only coach to fail here the last three decades. The Demon Deacons have had just six winning seasons since 1971 and finished 2-9 in 2000.

”We were 0-11 at Ohio so I’m a little more comfortable now,” Grobe said tongue-in-cheek. ”The challenge is to come into a university that has a great academic reputation and be able to fit in with the university to maintain their standards and at the same time bring a kid to campus who is a good athlete.”

Athletic director Ron Wellman called Grobe ”a proven winner” after completing his two-week search for a coach.

”We got the biggest kick out of helping Ohio University and those kids,” Grobe said. ”We started with a group of kids who were totally demoralized, had absolutely no pride in themselves or their accomplishment. When I left, I don’t know if there was another football team in our league that had any more pride than our kids.”

Wake Forest went to the Jeep Aloha Bowl in 1999, but opened this season 0-7 – including a season-opening loss to Division I-AA Appalachian State. The Demon Deacons’ only victories were over winless Duke and Army.

Grobe had one message when he met the Demon Deacons for the first time Monday afternoon.

”I told them to forget the past. We’re going to start over again,” he said. ”Then I told them it would be a real good idea to work out over Christmas break because we’ll get started as soon as they get back.”

Grobe said he always wanted to return to the Atlantic Coast Conference, where he played as a middle guard and linebacker at Virginia from 1973-74.

However, the ACC is a much different league than when Grobe played.

”It’s not going to be easy,” Grobe said. ”The league is more wide open. When I was playing it was more of a smash-mouth brand of football. But we’ve got to do the same things we did at Ohio. We’ve just got to go to work.”