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Wake Forest hires Bowling Green football coach

Wake Forest has hired Bowling Green’s Dave Clawson to become the Demon Deacon’s next football coach.

In formally announcing the moved, athletic director Ron Wellman on Tuesday said in a release that Clawson is “a proven winner” who “has developed a national reputation as a builder of programs.”

Clawson will be introduced during a news conference later Tuesday in Winston-Salem, N.C.

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.

He will not coach the Falcons against Pittsburgh in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Bowling Green elevated special teams coordinator and tight ends coach Adam Scheier to interim head coach.

Clawson's hiring caps Wake Forest’s weeklong search to find Jim Grobe’s successor. He resigned Dec. 2 after a 13-year stay that included five bowl games, but ended with five straight losing seasons.

While saying he didn’t want to limit the scope of his search, Wellman said his preference was to find a proven winner who had experience at a private school.

Clawson certainly fits the mold.

“Dave has rebuilt every program that he has coached and has led each institution to a conference championship,” Wellman said. “He has developed a national reputation as a builder of programs. Dave’s expectations for our program and players are extremely high.”

Clawson faces a tough job at Wake Forest, which 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.

Making the rebuild even more of a challenge: Most of the Demon Deacons’ key players this season – including quarterback Tanner Price, receiver Michael Campanaro and nose tackle Nikita Whitlock – were seniors.

Wake Forest spent the last week looking for a replacement for the 61-year-old Grobe, who stepped down after tying the program record with 77 wins and five years after guiding the small, private school to the best three-season run in school history. It included its first ACC title since 1970 and an Orange Bowl berth in 2006.

Things got tougher for the Demon Deacons lately. They were 4-8 this year and lost five straight to end the season.

Clawson raised his profile last Friday night when his Falcons routed Northern Illinois 47-27 for the MAC title. The win earned Bowling Green its third postseason appearance in his five years there, and his record with the Falcons was 32-31.

Before coming to Bowling Green, he spent the 2008 season as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator – replacing David Cutcliffe when he was hired by Duke.

And before that, Clawson rebuilt the FCS programs at Fordham and Richmond. He was chosen as the national coach of the year in what was then called Division I-AA at each of those schools.

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