A half-hour after the exhilarating Military Bowl game ended, the Faircloth family of 17 strong were exiting the stadium and walking to the Deacon Club shuttle bus to head back to Washington, D.C. We had previously planned a celebration dinner for our family to commemorate Big Daddy’s 452 consecutive Wake Forest football game, his final game as a member of the football staff and his pending retirement. As we were walking out of the stadium I received a call from the Director of Football Operations, Jordan Jarry. “Where is Big Daddy?” I told him we were headed out of the stadium. “Get back here…come to the locker room!” We proceeded to walk back to the locker room and entered into an enormous roar from the entire team and staff. “Big Daddy! Big Daddy!” The video here depicts what transpired from there.
It was certainly the perfect way to culminate a fantastic career with Wake Forest. For the past 38 years, hundreds, if not thousands, of Wake Forest student-athletes have been impacted by the twinkle in Coach Faircloth’s eye. His unwavering loyalty was never questioned as he transitioned through six head football coaches, all of whom have a place in their heart for the lovable Coach Fair.
Coach Faircloth was honored throughout the events surrounding the bowl game, including the Military Bowl Team Luncheon in which he received an award in recognition of his accomplishments. Countless former players made the extra effort to attend the game and show their appreciation for the impact Big Daddy has had on their lives, all of which culminated in that magical locker room celebration that provided such a storybook ending.
Bowl games are celebrations! Wake Forest fans have shown a consistent ability to travel in mass, certainly in greater percentage of alums than most other schools. As one of the smallest schools in the Power Five Conferences, we have managed to showcase our Demon Deacon pride in an illustrious way. We certainly outdrew Temple in the Military Bowl and our fans were invested in the game with pompoms waving, helping to provide a competitive advantage for our team. Those who traveled to Washington, D.C. and Annapolis were treated with a wonderful experience. The Washington, D.C. area provided a great opportunity to tour the Capitol, view monuments and visit an endless supply of museums. We took over City Tap House in downtown D.C. the night before the game with over 300 Wake Foresters connecting and celebrating the bowl game. The day of the game, many enjoyed a Naval parade through Annapolis, ending at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Aside from the game, the pregame tailgate was the largest collection of fans with approximately 500 strong, plus another few hundred enjoying the Streakin’ Deacon RV that made the trip from Winston-Salem. It was a party similar to a Homecoming experience with all classes coming together in one big celebration of Wake Forest. One of the highlights was our very own Bob McCreary directing the band in our fight song. Bob moved with the music, waving his arms in conductor-like motions, much to the entertainment of all. In total it was estimated that Wake Forest had over 10,000 fans at the game. We certainly showed well, both in the stadium and on television.
It is evident to see the progress of the team from our performance at the Military Bowl, which was one of our best on-field performances of the year. Finishing the game with our third-string quarterback demonstrates the depth we have developed. Beating a ranked opponent in Temple, champions of the American Athletic Conference, in a bowl game for the first time in our history is another significant accomplishment.
We have always said that success in football rises all tides and lifts all boats. Certainly the spirits of Wake Forest fans are excited and eager about the positive direction of our program. When you couple our football success with the tremendous seasons of many of our other programs throughout the fall season, it is clear that there is a bright future ahead for Wake Forest Athletics. I know for sure that one man’s spirits are at an all-time high. Coach Faircloth or Big Daddy, whatever you know him by, was extremely touched by all the hugs and well wishes, but I think he would tell you that winning was the best gift of all.
May Coach Faircloth have a wonderful new chapter of his career. Whatever he chooses that to be, I can only imagine that it won’t be far from the football program.
Thanks Dad, Coach Fair, Big Daddy.