Jerry Francis, a longtime season ticket holder for men’s basketball games at Wake Forest, has seen plenty of the good and the bad since he graduated in 1971.
“It’s been mostly bad for about the last 10 years,” said Francis, who has been a season-ticket holder since he graduated.
Francis, 70, was upbeat this morning as he checked out message boards to find out who would be the coach to replace Danny Manning, who was fired last week after six seasons and 78-111 overall record. It might have been raining and dreary, but to Francis it didn’t matter because Steve Forbes, the energetic and successful coach at East Tennessee State, is the choice.
Wake Forest made the official announcement this afternoon, with a news at conference scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday.
“It’s a great day and I’m excited with this choice,” said Francis, who was an athletics director and basketball coach at Forsyth Country Day in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Andrew Hano, 48, has been a season-ticket holder off and on for the last several years but was committed enough to continue to spend his $350 for two seats last season. He actually has shared three seats with a friend the last two seasons and admits it wasn’t always easy to go to games at Joel Coliseum, where the arena seats more than 14,000 but sometimes was half-empty.
In the 2019-20 season, Wake Forest averaged 6,904 fans for 14 homes games.
“I’m very excited,” said Hano, who is a project manager for a construction company. “From what I’ve read about him he’s been a winner at all levels, and he’ll be a breath of fresh air and while he’s probably not the same as the late (Skip Prosser) but I’m hearing he’s animated and colorful and really is a player’s coach.”
Hano said Forbes, whose ETSU team won the Southern Conference and went 30-4 this season, might just be similar to Dave Clawson, Wake Forest’s football coach.
“He will stick up for his guys and has enthusiasm on the sidelines and appears to be a real player’s coach,” Hano said.
During the last 14 seasons, the Deacons have made the NCAA Tournament just three times, but Francis says establishing a consistent program has to be the No. 1 priority.
“There was a time when Wake Forest was always in the NCAA Tournament, and we have to get back to those days,” Francis said, referring to a streak of postseason appearances from 1991 through 2006.
Francis watched the ACC Network's replay this week of third-ranked Wake Forest beating top-ranked Duke at Joel Coliseum in 2009.
"The place was packed and I watched that game again, and I was both sad and happy about it," Francis said. "We can get back to that again where we sell out games for basketball."
Pete Rose, a Winston-Salem resident and diehard Wake Forest fan, posted on Twitter about the hiring of Forbes.
"Steve Forbes is a home run hire for Wake, dude is gonna crush it here!!"
Chip Crutchfield, 50, and his family have been long-time Wake Forest season ticket holders. Chip's late father, Ken, first bought season tickets in football when BB&T Field opened in the late 1960s.
Chip, a ball boy for the Deacons from 1980 to '84, is hoping the basketball program can turn the corner under Forbes.
"Somebody is going to have to come in and connect with the students and get the fans excited," Crutchfield said. "You've had so much disappointment and dissatisfaction with the fan base it has to change. It's tough to look over at the student section and there's like 100 students there and that's it."
Crutchfield said he loves what John Currie, the athletics director, has done since being hired in March 2019.
"He's sharp and I trust what he's done with the selection process and with how he had a list of six candidates that I saw in different articles," Crutchfield said. "I definitely think he did his due diligence and made the best decision."