Tommy Elrod Wake Forest

The 2016 “WakeyLeaks” scandal remains one of the strangest things to happen in college football recently. After a 44-12 loss to the Louisville Cardinals that November, Wake Forest Demon Deacons football coach Dave Clawson discussed a potential “security breach” that saw Louisville end up with game plan information, and said they would investigate. That investigation eventually spotlighted Wake Forest radio analyst Tommy Elrod (seen above), a former Demon Deacons’ player and coach, and concluded that he had given play information to a series of assistant coaches at other schools over years.

Elrod was fired from his radio role by IMG after that, and banned from Wake Forest games. Some of the assistant coaches he leaked information to at other schools received fines and suspensions as well. But many of the coaches named then remain in college football today; then-Army defensive coordinator Jay Bateman is now the Florida Gators’ inside linebackers’ coach, then Louisville co-offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway is now an assistant head coach and wide receivers coach for the North Carolina Tar Heels, and then-Virginia Tech assistant head coach/running backs coach Shane Beamer is now the head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks.

The discussion of improperly-obtained information on sports opponents is not a new one. We saw it in the NFL with Spygate and the New England Patriots, we’ve since seen it in MLB with sign-stealing discussion around the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, and New York Yankees, and those are just a couple of the most prominent examples where this has come up. In all of those discussions, though, there’s been debate about the impact, with many arguing that this doesn’t mean much. So what’s perhaps particularly interesting about a new piece from Bruce Feldman, Matt Fortuna and Jayson Jenks of The Athletic looking back at WakeyLeaks is some of the comments it includes from players and coaches who were on the Demon Deacon teams impacted by this. Here’s some of that:

“It was really f—-d up and it went on for so long,” a Wake Forest assistant says. “If this involved Clemson or someplace like that, this would’ve been the biggest deal of all time — all of college football would’ve been paused to figure out what was going on.”

…[Offensive lineman A’Lique] Terry says [Louisville tackle Sheldon] Rankins took a knee and hollered, “Shovel pass is coming! Shovel pass is coming!” Terry was stunned. “I had Sheldon Rankins that play — I had to block him,” Terry says. “So when he said that, it’s like going into war and someone knowing where your bunker is. What the hell do I do?”

Just a true freshman, Terry wondered: “Can I call a timeout right now and still be on scholarship?”

He decided to snap the ball. Rankins blew past Terry’s right shoulder, ignoring Wolford and the running back headed left. Rankins settled in front of the receiver peeling back and picked off the shovel pass as if he was the target all along.

…After another stalled drive, [guard Tyler] Hayworth walked off the field in frustration.

“They know what the hell we’re doing!” he said on the sideline. “They know everything we’re doing as we’re doing it!”

So there’s some notable commentary there on what this meant for the people involved, and the tangible impacts it had on at least some plays.  And the piece also goes through the details of how Elrod communicated this information to opposing coaches, and how he was eventually caught. A key part of was him logging in to review film at odd hours, which led to the team getting records of his phone calls and texts to opposing coaches.

Meanwhile, Elrod declined comment to The Athletic. But those who did speak to them theorized he was motivated by revenge after losing his role as an assistant coach after Dave Clawson replaced Jim Grobe as Wake Forest head coach ahead of the 2014 season. It’s still bizarre that a team radio analyst would do this, though. And while things have worked out well for Wake Forest since this, the scandal here still had significant impacts for many of those who played for them.

[The Athletic]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.