Before any Wake Forest fan or alumni gets upset about this article, let me begin by saying this introduction section is all written out of respect.
The mere fact that I would devote my time writing about, worrying about, or fretting about Wake Forest football in itself is a compliment. My days on this planet, with a few minor exceptions, have been worry free when it came to preparation and lead up to a football game against the Demon Deacons. My, how times have changed.
Clemson will travel to a haunted ground Saturday to take on a Wake Forest football team that has been the worst of bad enemies to Tiger Nation.
The good news is that the past two trips to Winston Salem are over and in the past. The numbers that ring in my ear from the past two trips to Groves Stadium have vanished. The turnovers. The missed opportunities. The fake field goal. The whippings. The embarrassment. It’s all gone.
Wake Forest is a heck of a team at what they do. For one reason or another, they seem to shine their brightest against Clemson. This team that has roughed us up the past two trips to Groves Stadium won only seven other games combined during those two years. That’s right, seven. How they beat us…and in one case whipped us…is the stuff of legend.
They are the Demon Deacons but they are truly our demons. There is no doubt in my mind that every single player on our team will be ready to play Saturday. There is no doubt that every coach and every fan will be ready on Saturday. There is a feeling of revival and renewal and revenge in the air. Things seem to be different. The main difference is that we now respect Wake Forest. We had to be smacked in the face (twice) before we gave them that respect, but it is there.
Wake has truly arrived when on Monday morning I begin to get those goose bumps of a big football weekend looming. They are well coached and a hard playing team that has fans that are hard to hate. But Clemson is a better football team this year. Maybe much better.
Wake is due a butt whipping. Our demons need to be exorcised.
I have always enjoyed my trips to Winston Salem to cheer on the Tigers. I think Groves Stadium, and the entire experience of a football game at Wake, gets a bad rap. The stadium is easy to get to, parking near the stadium is plentiful, and sightlines inside Groves Stadium are excellent. Too much is made of the fact that the stadium only holds 35,000 fans. Is the game day experience like Clemson? Not even close…but neither is every other ACC team outside of Virginia Tech and Florida State. North Carolina holds twice that many fans in Keenan Stadium, but the atmosphere is similar between the UNC and Wake at a game and the parking is 1,000 times better in Winston. Not to mention the Deacons are a better football program.
I spent some time in the new concourse of the West Endzone last week during the La. Tech game and my impressions are even more favorable than when I walked through the WEZ during the summer. The emptiness of the WEZ prior to the season gave no justice to the atmosphere once the stadium had fans in it. Sound is most certainly trapped in that area of the stadium, giving Clemson a true home field advantage on both sides of the stadium now. I was in the WEZ when La. Tech was backed up inside the five in the 2nd quarter and it had the feeling and emotion and sound of a Miami, Florida State, or South Carolina game. It seems as if we have hit a grand slam with this new facility.
I hate to pick at Clemson during a time of such positive vibes, but the credit card deals inside of Memorial Stadium are an embarrassment. I walked my daughters around the concourses in the North and South lower decks at various times last week. During my four or five trips around the stadium, I was asked no less than 12 times if I wanted a free t-shirt or free blanket if I would sign up for a credit card. For a school that (rightfully so) prides itself on the tradition of a game day experience, being asked to sign up for a credit card is an embarrassing slap in the face. The same people hawking these credit cards in Memorial Stadium are the same people I hang up on when they call my house in the evenings. The obvious reason they are inside of Memorial Stadium is money. Whatever we get, it’s not worth it. Send the telemarketing credit card hawks outside the stadium with the scalpers, where they belong.
The Woa-Oho Song
I don’t like piped in music. I like the band. But I have to admit the woa-oho song that is being played prior to kickoffs has caught my fancy. Yes, I’m not hip because I have no idea what the song’s real name is or who sings it. But when the students start jumping up and down frantically during that song Death Valley begins to rock. Other parts of the stadium are starting to catch on as well, and the entire lower deck and parts of the upper deck were jumping by the 2nd half last week. So thumbs up for the woa-oho song! And I still say thumbs down to Hell’s Bells that for some reason has stayed in the rotation of piped in music for several years now.
Speaking of Piping In
All sorts of rumors have floated around over the years that Wake Forest has historically piped in crowd noise for big plays in their games in Winston Salem. Clemson fans swear that was the case last year in Groves Stadium as the crowd noise was obviously piped in when the real crowd was sitting on their hands. Surely there is no truth to that. Surely there is no computer nerd sitting up in the press box at Groves that pushes a button that creates artificial crowd noise. Forget for a moment if it is legal or not. Piping in crowd noise may be the most pitiful thing any sports team could do. Period.
Georgia Tech’s thorough whipping of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg has now completely cemented the fact that the ACC leadership has been rocked from their foundation. It is safe to say that Florida State is not the best team in the Atlantic Division. Miami has stumbled and bumbled their way to a pitiful start in the Coastal. Add the Hokie’s loss to the Yellow Jackets in the Coastal and you see very quickly that the big three are all on the ropes early. It is still way too early to clearly determine who is heading to Jacksonville in December. But I don’t think it is too early to know that Clemson and Georgia Tech seem to be playing the best football in each respective division.