The Wake Forest Demon Deacons announced Tuesday they signed head coach Dave Clawson to an eight-year extension that will carry through the 2024 season.
Clawson helped lead Wake Forest to a 34-26 victory over the Temple Owls in the Military Bowl—the Demon Deacons' first bowl win since 2008.
Clawson provided a statement in the team's press release:
I am honored to be offered this long-term contract. I greatly appreciate the support that our president, Dr. Nathan Hatch, and athletic director Ron Wellman have given to our program, our staff and myself since arriving at Wake Forest three years ago. The future of Wake Forest football is bright and we plan to build on the success of our 2016 season.
The length of the extension illustrates Wake Forest's confidence in Clawson, as well as the school's desire to act quickly to ensure the 49-year-old isn't going anywhere.
Still, an eight-year deal is risky. Adam Gold of 99.9 The Fan in Raleigh, North Carolina, was surprised to see the length of Clawson's extension:
Adam Gold @AGoldFan
Wait, an 8-YEAR EXTENSION for Dave Clawson at Wake? Why not just make him coach for life and be done with it.2017-1-3 20:57:14
The Demon Deacons were 3-9 in each of his first two seasons before going 7-6 in 2016. According to Football Outsiders, they ranked 60th in S&P+ rating and had 5.8 second-order wins, so they relied on a little luck to get to seven victories.
Wake Forest returns leading passer John Wolford, leading rusher Matt Colburn and its top two leading receivers, Tabari Hines and Cortez Lewis, on offense. On defense, leading tackler Marquel Lee graduates, but Jessie Bates, who led the team in interceptions, and Duke Ejiofor, the Demon Deacons' sack leader, will be back in 2017.
In terms of personnel, Wake Forest should be positioned to build on its bowl success. However, the team has two difficult nonconference games—away to Appalachian State and Notre Dame—as well ACC clashes with Clemson, Florida State and Louisville.
An underwhelming 2017 campaign won't put Clawson on the hot seat, but it may make the higher-ups at the school question whether signing him through 2024 off the back of one good year was a sensible decision.
In February 2007—a month after Wake lost to Louisville in the Orange Bowl—the school signed then-head coach Jim Grobe to a 10-year extension. The Demon Deacons went 40-47 in the seven years after the deal.
Wake painted itself into a corner with Grobe's extension, since firing the coach would've meant eating a lot of money. Grobe eventually resigned in 2013.
Should the program stagnate under Clawson—as it did under Grobe after the Orange Bowl—the Demon Deacons will be either looking at a costly buyout or hoping he can turn things around if afforded more time.