A specific sect of Wake Forest fans continues to make life publicly uncomfortable for Wake Forest basketball coach Jeff Bzdelik. And athletic director Ron Wellman continues to take a big dollop of the blame as well. (See this previously.) The billboard you see above is on Route 52 in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Wellman is the man who hired Bzdelik three years ago and, since then, Wake Forest has been an afterthought in its own conference and obviously on the national scene. Fans have had enough and have gone beyond the typical message board lamenting, Facebook-page-making and fire-this-coach-dot-com protesting.
Ads in newspapers, and now billboards on local roads are displaying the displeasure Wake fans have with the current coaching arrangement. WXII 12 news in Winston-Salem recently detailed both sides of the situation. Brian Stratton, the Wake Forest fan/North Carolina State alumnus who was a primary guy rallying to pay the $4,500 for the billboard to go up, explained how it got to this point.
"I think there are a lot of very, very disappointed alumni who, after last year, have just basically said, 'I'm out, and I'm not going to donate anymore,'" Stratton said. "Will they come back? I don't know."
Wake Forest finished 13-18 last year, going 6-12 in the ACC (third from last). Bzdelik has support, though, and it comes in the form of the program's most successful coach, Dave Odom, who was with the school from 1989-2001. Odom spoke to WXII 12 about the saga of stress and anger that has permeated the program for the past two seasons.
"Whatever the resume is, is not arguable, but I would just say to them [the fans], look, the situation is what it is right now," Odom said. "Further criticism, withdrawing your support only hinders the progress that is imminent."
The report also states Stratton and other disgruntled Wake fans could pay for a second billboard in another location to be put up as the season draws closer in the fall.
Wellman continues to stand behind Bzdelik. But, at this point, the wave against the coach and athletic director appear so strong that the only change of course will be significant winning, not just getting to .500 or slightly above it. Can that be accomplished next season? Wake Forest will return four starters in 2013-14.