Wake Forest Scandal Deepens

Wake Forest Scandal

Tuesday it was revealed that former Wake Forest player and current radio announcer Tommy Elrod had been sharing internal team information with opposing teams. Wake Forest concluded a four week long investigation by firing Elrod yesterday and making the announcement last night. The investigation is now also being joined by the ACC offices and Commissioner John Swofford.

Elrod was a defensive end for Wake Forest from 1991-1994. He later joined Jim Grobe’s staff as an assistant coach, until Grobe retired at the end of the 2013 season. Dave Clawson took over as head coach prior to the 2014 season and he did not retain Elrod on the staff, so Elrod took a job with IMG, which owns the broadcast rights to Wake Forest athletics.

Some see this as Elrod trying to exact revenge on Clawson for not keeping him on the coaching staff. What is known for sure is that Elrod has lawyered up and has no comment following his dismissal yesterday.

How Much Damage Was Done?

The ongoing investigation is searching to find answers as to how much damage was done and when and who benefited. In his statement last night, Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman seemed to indicate that it might have been going on since Elrod moved to the broadcast booth in 2014. A belief in “Post hoc, ergo propter hoc” would leave one to believe that Clawson’s 12-24 record at Wake Forest is a result of the internal spying, or “Wakey-Gate” as some in the media are now calling it. After it, therefore because of it, would mean that the team was fine and so the first thing, (the spying), caused the second thing, (the losses).  But the reality is Clawson inherited a moribund program in 2014. Grobe went 77-82 in 12 seasons, making third tier bowls five times and going 9-17 over his last two seasons. Clawson  went 3-9 each of his first two seasons with Grobe’s players, but improved recruiting got him to 6-6 and a bid to the Military Bowl, Wake’s first bowl appearance since 2011. So was the team just bad in Clawson’s first two years and improving now? Or were they bad because of the internal spying and maybe they could have been even better than 6-6 now?

Who Benefitted?

Wake beat Tulane, Duke, Delaware, Indiana, Syracuse and Virginia in 2015. No major surprises there. The Demon Deacons lost to North Carolina, Florida State, Army, Louisville, Clemson and Boston College. Army and BC stick out as potential question marks, but it is going to be hard to find anyone to swallow the idea that the upstanding cadets from West Point knowingly took advantage of nefarious activities on the part of Elrod. The BC loss could have just been a loss, or it could have been more. The only school that has been definitively singled out thus far is Louisville.   The investigation began last month after a member of the school’s travel party found the documents at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium before the Demon Deacons were to play at Louisville.  Wake Forest administrators alerted officials of both schools at the time.  Louisville won the game 44-12. It’s hard to imagine that with Louisville playing as well as it was at that point in the season, it would need help beating wake Forest, but if there was another school in the country that was going to become engrossed in scandal, it was Louisville. Asked today about his school’s name coming up in the Wake Forest scandal, Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich downplayed any connection. He said Elrod and Louisville offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway have known each other for several years and he confirmed that Elrod did send some information to Galloway, but he denied it had any impact on the game.  “Among the communication were a few plays that were sent and then shared with our defensive staff,” Jurich said in the statement issued today. “None of the special plays were run during the course of the game. Our defense regularly prepares for similar formations every week in their normal game plan. Any other information that may have been discussed was nothing that our staff had not already seen while studying Wake Forest in their preparations for the game and the material was not given any further attention. I’m disappointed that this issue has brought undue attention to our football staff as we prepare for our upcoming bowl game.”

The statement actually contradicts what Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino said when the issue was first raised in mid-November. “I have no knowledge of the situation,’’ Petrino said back on November 16th, when asked to comment about the report. “We take a lot of pride in the way we operate our program. As I’ve stated already this season, my coaching philosophy has always been to play the game with sportsmanship.”

What’s Next?

No other teams have publicly responded to the news. Louisville was pressed on it because evidence was found in their locker room. Swofford’s ACC office is now taking an active part of the investigation and while he would not give details, it is believed they will be questioning many, if not all teams on wake Forest’s schedule the last three years. It is not yet known whether Elrod will cooperate with the investigation, although he has been fired by IMG as of yesterday.

 

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