Some of you might have seen this article in the Washington Post: “Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe achieves beyond the numbers” (written by John Feinstein, a Duke alumnus and sportswriter.) If you haven’t, it’s a good read.
While I am by no means a confidante of the coach, I’ve invited him to speak at several events on campus, and I can tell you this man is as nice as the day is long. Polite, kind, a twinkle in his very blue eyes. He is a warm, welcoming man. And a real stitch too – he has his own lexicon, and those familiar with his press conferences will remember him talking about telling his team to “play like their hair’s on fire” and he is also known to talk about playing so hard “you get snot bubbles.”
After WFU won the 2006 ACC championship and went to the Orange Bowl that year (which, as an aside, had the greatest migration of Deac faithful to South Florida ever recorded), he won the national coach of the year award and was understandably wooed by a lot of very good teams. Coach Grobe didn’t go. With all the options he had, he stayed at Wake Forest. Reason # eleventybillion to like him.
One of my lasting memories of Coach Grobe was his speaking engagements with Coach Prosser, our men’s basketball coach who died of a massive heart attack on campus in July 2007. All of our coaches support each other here and attend each other’s events, but there was a special camaraderie between Coaches Grobe and Prosser. They did a lot of speaking engagements together, and it was beautiful to watch their repartee – Coach Grobe, whose style was much more “aww shucks, fellas” and endearingly friendly but also very smart, and Coach Prosser who had an encyclopedic mind and could pull out the most intricate facts of history or literature and combine them with his razor sharp wit. To see them together on stage, with their different styles, their give and go – well, it was like watching an intricate pas de deux with two expert dancers.
Wish I had a picture of one of their events to post here, but I don’t. How I’d love to hear one more press conference with them both.