Can Steve Forbes' blueprint save Wake Forest basketball and disrupt the ACC?

Frank Mattia/Icon Sportswire

Wake Forest is a program still seeking to recapture a golden age that spanned the 1990s and early 2000s. That was when the Demon Deacons put players such as Tim Duncan and Chris Paul on the floor while reaching 12 NCAA tournaments in 15 years.

When coach Skip Prosser passed away suddenly in the summer of 2007, the program managed to make what at first appeared to be a remarkably smooth transition to its next chapter. New coach Dino Gaudio led the Deacons to a one-week stint as the No. 1 team in the nation in his second season, and Wake Forest appeared in two consecutive NCAA tournaments for the first time since Paul's playing days. Nevertheless, Gaudio was let go after three seasons, and in the 10 years since that decision, Wake has compiled an NCAA tournament résumé consisting of one loss in the First Four.

This dry spell was front and center when John Currie assumed his duties as Wake's new athletic director in May 2019. In effect, Currie elected to make a change with the men's basketball program at the first practicable moment, letting Danny Manning go this past April and hiring East Tennessee State coach Steve Forbes. The Deacons' decision stands out as the only major-conference coaching change that has taken place since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.