Niagara Gazette


December 11, 2013

Youngstown native Clawson ready to rebuild Wake Forest


Niagara Gazette — "Our vision is to win championships here," Clawson said. "I think if you set your goal anything lower than being a champion, then you're setting the standard too low. ... We know it's going to take a lot of work. We have to get the right people on board ... but I believe wholeheartedly that can be done at Wake Forest, and we will work relentlessly toward that goal until it is accomplished."

Clawson will have to rebuild much of the roster. Most of the key players from this year's 4-8 season — including quarterback Tanner Price, receiver Michael Campanaro and nose tackle Nikita Whitlock — were seniors.

Making things tougher, Wake Forest shares the Atlantic Division with No. 1 Florida State, which is headed to the BCS title game, plus No. 12 Clemson and starting next year, No. 18 Louisville, which replaces Big Ten-bound Maryland.

Plus, the Demon Deacons' annual cross-division opponent is No. 22 Duke, which won the Coastal Division — and, coincidentally, Clawson was the successor to David Cutcliffe as Tennessee's offensive coordinator in 2008 when he left for Duke.

With a nod to Wake Forest's unique method of celebrating big victories, he said "we look forward to rolling the quad many times here."

Turnarounds seem to be Clawson's specialty.

He rebuilt the FCS programs at Fordham and Richmond, earning Division I-AA national coach of the year awards at each of those schools.

Fordham won 22 games in the 10 years before he arrived, but in his fourth season he went 10-3 and reached the Division I-AA quarterfinals.

Then he took over the Spiders and Wellman said he "performed the same magic and quickly established Richmond as a national power," reaching the postseason twice before leaving behind the core of the Spiders team that won the 2008 national title.

Most recently, he led Bowling Green (10-3) to an upset of previously unbeaten and then-No. 16 Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference championship game last week.

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