Jim Grobe's sales pitch

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Just filed a dead-tree edition, er, e-edition story on Wake Forest safety Chip Vaughn, a product of Fairfax’s Robinson High School.

I’ll probably offer up another Vaughn story tomorrow morning before the Demon Deacons play Navy in the EagleBank Bowl, but wanted to share this gem related by Sharifah Vaughn, the fifth-year senior’s mother.

She hasn’t missed a game throughout her son’s career, and extolled the tightness of Wake’s program throughout our conversation this afternoon. This wasn’t unexpected; when I left a message on her voicemail, I got to hear “Go Deacs” right before the beep.

So clearly the relationship between her family and Wake Forest is a strong one thanks to Chip Vaughn’s career. But coach Jim Grobe’s salesmanship had her wondering years ago whether her son would actually play in Winston-Salem.

“He said ‘Son, you’re probably never going to win the ACC championship; heck, we probably won’t go to a bowl game. But you’ll get a fine education,” Sharifah Vaughn recalled hearing. “I’m thinking ‘Coach Grobe, you’re not helping. You already said he probably wouldn’t play as a freshman and that was a hard pill to swallow, and now you’re going to tell him he’ll probably never play in a bowl. You’re losing him, son.’”

But Grobe wasn’t through.

“He ended up saying to Chip, ‘You know, son, you have some great offers.’ He talked about Virginia and how wonderful it is and Virginia Tech and how wonderful it is. He was just very complimentary of other schools. But he closed in saying ‘You could go be a part of a great football tradition, or you can help build it.’ I think it was really that [which resonated].”

Turns out Grobe was wrong on a few counts. Vaughn was part of the 2006 conference champions. He’ll play in his third bowl game tomorrow.

But the veteran coach was right about one important thing – Vaughn ultimately helped build the Demon Deacons’ nascent football tradition.

Patrick Stevens

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