Aaron Schoonmaker

Secondary fallout of 'WakeyLeaks' has started, and innocent people will be hurt

Posted December 16, 2016
Updated December 17, 2016

— The secondary fallout has begun as a byproduct of the gameplan-sharing scandal known as “WakeyLeaks.”

On Friday, Louisville announced that offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway will be suspended for the Cardinals’ New Year’s Eve Citrus Bowl game against LSU for his part in accepting information from former Wake Forest player, coach and broadcaster Tommy Elrod.

“It is clear that the information should not have been shared by anyone at Wake Forest and it should not have been received by anyone at the University of Louisville,” Louisville Athletics Director Tom Jurich said in a statement. “Although no one from Louisville sought the information, once it was provided, we did not do what we should have.”

The school also said that they would accept any punishment from the Atlantic Coast Conference for not properly reporting the information.

Virginia Tech and Army have also admitted involvement in the scandal, however, each of those incidents involved assistants that are no longer with their respective programs. Hard to punish a departed employee.

“We have recently been made aware that a former Wake Forest staff member provided one of our former assistant coaches with some game plan information prior to our game in 2014,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “We have no indication at this time that any of this information was shared with any other staff members, nor utilized during the game itself.”

The Louisville move to suspend Galloway seems superficial, though. Yes, he will miss a bowl game after Elrod rightfully lost his job – and all other Wake Forest ties – but the bigger picture is vast.

About 24-hours before Galloway’s suspension was announced, Robert Wolford, the father of Demon Deacons quarterback John Wolford, told the USA Today that the actions of Elrod put his son’s well-being in danger.

From 2014-16, the three seasons in question, Wolford played in seven games against Army, Louisville and Virginia Tech. He went 3-4 in those games but threw 12 interceptions to 4 touchdowns and was sacked 24 times. While it appears that only four of those seven games involved the suspected informed assistants, it sounds like they knew what was coming…

Furthermore, Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson told Mike & Mike Friday morning that prior to the Nov. 12 game against Louisville, he “knew we had been compromised,” and deliberately put the players through plays and drills that they were not going to use in the game.

“They were upset that they felt we did not give them the best opportunity to win the game and we had a team meeting and said, 'Hey, listen guys, something was compromised,’” Clawson said on the show. “We were not sure how, and at that point, it triggered an investigation.”

Even beyond player safety – which should be in no way underscored here – and blatant mis-preparation, there are moral and trust issues that expand beyond the gridiron.

Speaking to the moral issue, there are all sorts of reasons people, for lack of a better word, “cheat.” A simple Google search of the popular saying, “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying,” yields nearly 10,000 results. Did Elrod hold a grudge for not being retained on the coaching staff when Dave Clawson took over? Was money involved? Was he trying to gain an edge to get back into coaching? Was he honestly thinking that what he was doing was not inappropriate?

“When someone receives information they should not be given, it is important they do the right thing,” Jurich added near the end of his statement. “Even in a competitive atmosphere, the right and ethical thing would have been for us to not accept the information.”

The ethical/moral angle of the Elrod predicament alone could fill a book and the hypotheticals are endless, but suffice it to say, the game (and society as a whole) can’t thrive when cheating is exposed.

As far as trust goes, it is a web. A vicious web that hurts a lot of people.

Elrod has a family that lives in a community that presumably extends into social circles. And Elrod himself is human. For society’s sake, I hope he is still supported and trusted in those settings.

Elrod was (past tense) also part of a sports fraternity that can be very fickle and is losing trust by the day when it comes to the program-media relationship. I have seen reporters get denied simple credential requests based on things they say or write publically.

Once a common occurrence of the gameday media getting to sit down with coaches before broadcasts is being restricted. Practices are rarely open and availabilities are structured to the point of copy-and-paste.

Head coaches can’t trust assistant coaches. No coach can trust the media. Players have become robots.

When I was talking to former WRAL sports director and current WRALSportsFan.com contributor Bob Holliday the other day, he remarked specifically on the chain reaction that occurs when trust is lost.

Steve Logan said on Adam & Joe Friday that that the practice of trying to gain a competitive edge dates back to the beginning of time. He’s not wrong. But when looking at the secondary, tertiary and implications beyond, at what price tag does that carry in an ever-growing society?

I have never met Elrod. I have read his rather difficult backstory. In this case I wish him well, but cannot help but consider the dozens of other lives that were, and will still be, affected by his actions – whether willfully damning or blissfully ignorant.

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