Wake Forest gets bid to Belk Bowl against familiar face

Deacs will head to Charlotte to face Texas A&M and former FSU coach Jimbo Fisher

Wake Forest Demon Deacons head coach Dave Clawson watches the game in the second quarter of the college football game at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, NC, Thursday, August 31, 2017. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons defeated the Presbyterian Blue Hose 51 - 7. (Eamon Queeney / North State Journal)

Wake Forest got the bowl game it wanted.

After campaigning for a spot in the Military Bowl last season, the Demon Deacons made it clear that Charlotte’s Belk Bowl was the spot they wanted to land this year.

On Saturday, it became official. Wake accepted a bid to play Texas A&M in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 29 at Bank of America Stadium.

“The Belk Bowl is the perfect fit for this team and our fans,” said Wake head coach Dave Clawson.

The Deacs will face the Aggies in a battle of 7-5 teams. For the second straight year, Clawson will be facing a bowl opponent who just replaced its coach.

“This is actually my third consecutive bowl where I’ve had to coach against an interim coach,” Clawson said. “I’m starting to take it personally. At Bowling Green in 2012, we played San Jose State in the Military Bowl, and Mike MacIntyre had just left to go to Colorado. Last year, (Temple coach) Matt Rhule went to Baylor.”

A&M dismissed coach Kevin Sumlin at the end of the regular season and, this week, hired Jimbo Fisher away from Florida State. Fisher has not officially been introduced at A&M, so it’s not clear if he will coach the bowl game or assistant coach Jeff Banks, currently serving as the Aggies’ interim head coach.

Clawson is very familiar with his former ACC colleague.

“I can’t imagine Jimbo going anywhere and not being successful,” he said. “The four years that we coached against him and being in league meetings with him, he’s an outstanding coach. I’m grateful to Jimbo, because I think he did a lot to elevate the stature of the ACC.”

Fisher isn’t the only connection Clawson has to A&M.

“I was just out there two years ago,” he said. “We took a trip there (with Wake boosters) to look at their facilities, when we were designing ours. It’s amazing what they have there. I’d never seen some of the stuff they have. The stadium just blows you away. I didn’t know if I was at a football facility or a five-star resort. It helped us get the facility we’re about to get.”

The Deacs plan to leave for Charlotte on Christmas Day.