If Tom Clancy or Chris Carter ever decide to pursue doing something about college football, at least they finally have a real-life template.
As we all know by now, a former Wake Forest assistant turned radio commentator Tommy Elrod was outed as giving game-planning material of the Demon Deacons to opponents over the past three years, culminating in getting caught against Louisville, who won the game handily on the strength of a second half spurt, 44-12.
This one has a little Sci-Fi, a little History Channel, a little Lifetime all wrapped up into one.
Elrod was a Wake Forest player from 1993 to 1997 who was a part of former coach Jim Grobe’s staff. When Dave Clawson was hired, he wasn’t retained, but he did get a decent gig as a radio analyst and apparently was given full run of the football facility in the process.
But here’s the deal as all the hand wringing and castigating of Louisville, Elrod, and if I’ve missed any one … sorry … goes on: this sort of thing can’t be stopped, ever.
That said, there won’t always be a catchy nod to give the scandal an easy name, a nod to Julian Assange’s Wikileaks. I’m sure he got a chuckle out of it, assuming he watches college football (who doesn’t!?!?).
Louisville offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway (who allegedly received the intel) was apparently friends with Elrod and was in a sticky situation. When someone tells you something they shouldn’t, that’s one of the worst places you can be. Your choices both suck.
1. Betray your friend’s trust and out him to the people that should know
2. Keep his trust but understand you’re screwing a lot of people in the process that don’t deserve it
The answer, obviously if you have to choose one, is the first one. Louisville is good enough that they don’t need advanced intel on Wake Forest to go and get that win. Not that it makes it any better if it’s a nail biter, prospectively.
But past that, if you’re looking for some hammer handing down going on, don’t hold your breath. There’s nothing the NCAA, the ACC, the Electoral College, or Batman can do about guys with an ax to grind giving out clandestine info to an opponent just because they want to.
You hope the people in your building aren’t trying to back stab you, but in the event they are, there’s no real punishment that can be handed out that goes beyond firing that guy, and any outrage suggesting otherwise is just a bunch of silly saber rattling because people like to saber rattle.
What Louisville should have done and what they’re obligated to do are completely different things. The intersection between morality and wins in college football seems to always have a telephone pole down, obfuscating traffic.
If you’re looking for moral high ground, college football is only going to get you drowned in a flash flood.
The bottom line is that this is much ado about nothing because nothing really can be done about it. Elrod is fired, because of course. Wake Forest and their players and coaches are victims, because who knows really how much that intel helped other teams over the last few years.
It sucks. It’s oily. It makes you look over your shoulder at who’s in your locker room if you’re a college coach, probably with a more discerning eye.
But in the end, there’s nothing that can stop someone who has access from being a mole if they want to, and there’s no punishment you can levy for coming across salty knowledge that you probably shouldn’t.
There are no good answers, only catchy scandal names and hope everyone in your program is above board. Or you can just blame the Rus … actually, we’re more high class than ginning that up.