Success in the Mid-American Conference can be a double-edged sword. Winning is the ultimate goal, but when a team is successful, their coach becomes the target of interest by bigger and better-paying schools. Just 72 hours after celebrating their first conference championship in 21 years, the Bowling Green Falcons have become far too aware of that reality.
According to multiple sources, Falcons' head coach Dave Clawson will become the new football head coach for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
The story broke just this evening and rapidly grew from reports of a contract offer to reports that the offer had been accepted. The Winston-Salem Journal posted a story on their website reporting the move by Clawson. Shortly thereafter, CBS Sports posted a report of their own repeating the claim. Finally, John Wagner (who is the Falcons' beat writer for the Toledo Blade) tweeted that the report had been confirmed.
#BGSU football: CONFIRMED ... Dave Clawson is leaving Bowling Green to become the next football coach at Wake Forest. Story shortly.— JWagnerBlade (@jwagnerblade) December 10, 2013
Wagner has since posted a story of his own at the Toledo Blade's website. In the story, he states that Clawson is expected to be announced at a press conference in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Tuesday afternoon.
Clawson just completed his 14th season as a head coach and his fifth at Bowling Green. Clawson has a cumulative record of 90-80 at Fordham, Richmond and BGSU. Clawson went 0-11 in his first season (1999) at Fordham. Three seasons later, he led the team to the FCS playoff quarterfinals and a 10-3 record. After finishing 9-3 in 2003 with the Rams, he moved on to Richmond.
The Spiders were just 3-8 in 2004 under Clawson but immediately improved to 9-4 in 2005 with a trip to the FCS quarterfinals. After a brief setback to 6-5 in 2005, Clawson led Richmond to an 11-3 record in 2006. That season concluded with a berth in the FCS semifinals.
Following an unsuccessful season as offensive coordinator with the Tennessee Volunteers in 2008, Clawson was hired as the head coach at Bowling Green shortly after the Falcons fired Gregg Brandon. With a senior-laden team led by quarterback Tyler Sheehan, the Falcons finished 7-6 and lost to Idaho 43-42 in the Humanitarian Bowl in 2009.
The team hit the reset button after 2009. Playing with virtually all freshmen and sophomores, Clawson's Falcons went just 2-10 in 2010. However, he led his BGSU teams to three-win improvements in 2011 (5-7) and 2012 (8-5). Following the 2012 regular season, the Falcons lost in the Military Bowl to San Jose State.
In 2013, Bowling Green returned much of the 2012 squad and introduced several young star players on offense. He switched quarterbacks from senior Matt Schilz to sophomore Matt Johnson early in the season-opener versus Tulsa, and the Falcons never looked back. After starting 5-3, BGSU rolled off five consecutive wins. They won at Buffalo, 24-7, on the final day of the season to earn the team's first berth in the MAC Championship Game in 10 years. Then, one week later, Clawson led BGSU to its first MAC championship in 21 years with a stunning 47-27 win over then-undefeated Northern Illinois.
Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman was in attendance at the MAC Championship Game and interviewed Clawson on Sunday. Clawson will now finish his tenure at Bowling Green with a 32-31 record, but he was 18-8 in the last two seasons.
In his last three seasons at each of his three head coaching stops, Clawson is 75-57 with five playoff appearances or bowl appearances.
Clawson will replace Jim Grobe at Wake Forest. Grobe had coached the Demon Deacons for 13 years, from 2001-2013, after a six-year run with the Ohio Bobcats. Wake Forest had a winning record in five of Grobe's 13 seasons and played in five bowl games. Grobe's most successful run came from 2006 to 2008. In 2006, he led Wake Forest to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and a berth in the BCS (Orange Bowl) with an 11-3 record. He followed that with 9-4 and 8-5 seasons in 2007 and 2008, and Wake Forest won bowl games in each of those years. However, Grobe's teams have won just 23 games (never more than 6 in one year) in the last five seasons. Wake Forest completed a 4-8 season with a loss to Vanderbilt nine days ago, and Grobe stepped down following the game.
Bowling Green plays in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in 17 days and will likely name an interim coach within the next 24-48 hours, and the search for a permanent coach should also begin immediately.