AP source: Wake chooses Bowling Green’s Clawson

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Wake Forest has hired Dave Clawson from Bowling Green as its next football coach, a person familiar with the situation said.

The person said a news conference to introduce Clawson was expected Tuesday in Winston-Salem, N.C. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday night because the move had not been announced by either school.

It comes three days after Clawson led Bowling Green (10-3) to an upset of then-No. 16 Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference championship game and one day after the Falcons were invited to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

His 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, athletic director Ron Wellman said last week that his preference was to find a proven winner who had experience at a private school.

Clawson certainly fits the mold.

His profile skyrocketed Friday night when his Falcons routed Northern Illinois 47-27 for the MAC title, in the process keeping the Huskies from their second straight BCS berth. 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 left to take over at Duke.

And before that, Clawson rebuilt the FCS programs at Fordham and Richmond, which won the national championship during the season he spent at Tennessee. He was selected as the national coach of the year in what was then called Division I-AA at each of those schools.

Wake Forest spent the past 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.

Grobe was selected as the AP’s national coach of the year in 2006 after leading the Demon Deacons to a school-record 11 wins, their first ACC title since 1970 and an Orange Bowl berth. He followed that up with bowls in each of the next two years _ the only time in program history that it appeared in three consecutive bowl games.

But the Demon Deacons finished under .500 in each of the past five seasons. They were 4-8 this season and closed the season with five consecutive losses.

Clawson faces a tough job going forward because Wake Forest shares the Atlantic Division with No. 1 Florida State, which is headed to the BCS title game; No. 12 Clemson, which earned its second Orange Bowl invitation in three years; 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.

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