Much like the Winston-Salem itself, Wake Forest–the university inside the city's limits–football is a program on the outside looking in, both regionally and as a contender.
To celebrate 100 days until the start of the college football season, HERO Sports is counting down the Top 100 FBS College Football Towns in America. Each day, starting May 17 and ending Aug. 24, a new city will be revealed. We will analyze the city, the program, the good and bad of the city as well as the bottom line. If you got a problem, @me on Twitter.
[credit]Wake Forest football has gone to back-to-back bowl games for only the second time in its 110-year history. (Photo: Wake Forest Athletics)[/credit]
Compared to those schools in the Research Triangle–North Carolina, North Carolina State and Duke –Wake Forest is often overlooked as one of the North Carolina ACC schools. The fact is, Wake Forest is the last Tar Heel state representatives to win a conference title. Since 2006, the Demon Deacons have gone 61-76. Things seem to be turning positive, however, head coach Dave Clawson has taken the Deacons to two straight bowl games. Two straight bowl game wins.
Winston-Salem sits just far away from UNC, Duke and NC State to not be associated with the college atmosphere of those three schools and the imaginary triangle it forms. It is 90 minutes away from Charlotte, which is practically cross-country for a college student. "Winston's" tradition lies in its connection to the tobacco industry. In the first-half of the 20th century, the majority of people who lived in Winston worked for R.J Reynolds Tobacco company. For those looking to visit, there seems to be a distinct separation from Winston-Salem and Wake Forest. For those who come for football, the idea of partying with college kids or venturing into the tiny sleepy southern town would be akin to choosing between kissing your mother or your sister.
Maybe it's my unabashed sophomoric behavior, but Winston-Salem's Wachovia Center's nickname is the "Phallus Palace". Outside of that, there's the minor league baseball team "Dash" named after the hyphen between Winston and Salem. If one is looking for an ideal college environment, Winston-Salem would make sense on paper. Wake Forest enrollment is a little over 7,000. The city's population is 242,000. Everything would seem to mingle and coalesce in perfect harmony.
They have a building nicknamed the "Phallus Palace!" Out of 14 schools in the ACC, Wake Forest is one of only three to see a drop in football attendance. That's in spite of the team getting better. It seems Winston-Salem is content on having nothing of significance and relying on outside cities to provide entertainment most would crave. Charlotte, Greensboro, the Triangle are all recommended for looking for a semblance of city life.
Wake Forest's football team continues to trend upwards and cause reason for optimism. The ACC will always provide fun and entertaining Saturday games. The problem is nobody shows up and there's not enough things going on outside the campus walls to make it worthwhile.
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