College Football: Wake juggling plans on bowl game
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 10, 2008
WINSTON-SALEM ó It’s nothing new these days for Wake Forest to go to a bowl game.
What is new for the Demon Deacons is playing in a bowl game before the holidays.
Having earned a school-record third consecutive postseason invitation, Wake Forest (7-5) will open the 2008 bowl schedule against Navy (8-4) in the inaugural EagleBank Bowl in Washington on Dec. 20. Between final exams and holiday preparations, the Demon Deacons are doing plenty of multi-tasking.
“You always hear, you’ll be home for Christmas,” as an insult, senior middle linebacker Stanley Arnoux said. “This year, actually, we’re going to a bowl and we’ll still be home for Christmas.”
Coach Jim Grobe said Tuesday some players have grumbled about playing so soon.
“Our guys have been used to having some time off,” Grobe said. “It’s been difficult to rally the guys back together and say, hey, before we can blink, we’re going to be teeing it up again.”
Fortunately, Wake Forest is familiar with its opponent. The Demon Deacons have played Navy in the last two regular seasons with the Midshipmen winning, 24-17, on Sept. 27 in Winston-Salem.
There was one more surprise for Wake Forest this week, in addition to the altered schedule.
Linebacker Aaron Curry wanted to brush off Wake Forest’s bowl news conference and go to student health services to treat a case of pink eye. School athletic officials insisted he come to the news conference.
Just as he started answering questions about the upcoming bowl, in walked Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, who surprised Curry with the Butkus Award, given each year to the nation’s top linebacker.
“Dick Butkus, everybody,” Curry said, laughing as he introduced the football legend.
Curry, who came to Wake Forest as a little-known recruit and blossomed into a likely first-round draft choice, has 101 tackles this year, including 15 for losses.
He’s part of a senior class that has posted more wins (31) than any other class in Wake Forest history.
“(The Butkus Award) doesn’t just speak to the linebacker that I am,” Curry said. “It speaks (to) the efforts of the team, for the winning seasons, and going out there and representing Wake Forest, not just as a private school that has a football team, but a football team that attends a private school.”
In four years, Curry and his classmates helped turn around a Wake Forest program which had appeared in only three bowl games over the previous 25 years. The seniors would like to end on a high note.
“The last game stays with you the rest of your life,” senior safety Chip Vaughn said. “My last high school game, I still have nightmares about it, because I lost. I’m not going to let my college career end that way.”