Wake Forest University has fewer than 5,000 undergraduates and yet as one of the top academic universities in the United States still tries to compete in major college athletics. If that is ambitious for the school, its a monumental challenge for coaches of the major sports, for not only are they up against much larger schools, theyve got to ensure that athletes can truly excel in the classroom.
Jim Grobe, the football coach for 13 years, met the challenge, no matter that overall he had more losses than victories. He was widely praised by pundits and coaches of national stature as one of the best, as someone who would be a national champion at a bigger, more sports-oriented school.
But he stayed at Wake Forest and could have continued still if he had chosen not to resign Monday after another tough season. After Grobe took his Demon Deacons to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 2006 and was named national coach of the year, the university rightly viewed him as the coach for life. But Grobe acknowledged there was too much losing lately, and he felt a new perspective might be needed.
Wake Forest retains many fans and alums in the Triangle, having been part of the Big Four (Duke, UNC-CH, NCSU and WFU) and with its founding just up the road from Raleigh in the village from whence it took its name.
They and multitudes of Wake Forest alums have admired Grobe for the fact that his teams played clean and his players graduated and because nary a hint of scandal followed him.
The coach is articulate, modest and highly respected on a personal and professional level. The university would, in fact, be wise to retain him in another public role.