Wake Forest did not specify which opponents had received game plans, but it was already known that the school was looking into a “breach” after a November loss to Louisville. That raised another question: What would that school have to say about all this?
On Wednesday, Louisville issued a statement, one that confirmed it did receive some enemy intel ahead of its game against Wake. However, the school’s athletic director sought to emphasize that the “few plays” the Cardinals got from announcer Tommy Elrod made no difference in the outcome.
“Our offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway and Tommy Elrod have known each other since 2007,” Louisville AD Tom Jurich said. “Lonnie received a call from Elrod during the week of the Wake Forest game, and some information was shared with him that week.“Among the communication were a few plays that were sent and then shared with our defensive staff. 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.”
Given that Louisville spent the season as one of the best teams in the country, while Wake Forest is traditionally among the ACC’s weaker programs, the score of that game, 44-12, came as little surprise, although the Cardinals were actually losing by two going into the fourth quarter. In his statement, Jurich attempted to play down the usefulness of the information his school received and thus the potential significance of the story.
However, this is hardly likely to be the end of the matter for Louisville, let alone Wake Forest. For one thing, when news emerged of the Demon Deacons’ suspicion of a November “breach,” Cardinals Coach Bobby Petrino said, “I have no knowledge of the situation. 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.”
Is it possible that Petrino did not know that his offensive coordinator had “a few plays” sent his way by the radio announcer for that week’s opponent? That’s among the things the ACC would probably like to know, as the conference issued a statement Wednesday suggesting it is launching its own investigation.
“Protecting competitive integrity is fundamental to the Atlantic Coast Conference,” the statement said. “The conference office is in the process of obtaining the internal findings from Wake Forest University. Based on the information provided, and any other information obtained, the league office will perform its due diligence, and as necessary, additional discussions and actions will occur.”
Much as Louisville would like to put this episode behind it and focus on its upcoming bowl game, there are many ethical concerns here that need to be addressed. In addition, Wake Forest had said Tuesday that Elrod had “provided or attempted to provide confidential and proprietary game preparations on multiple occasions, starting in 2014,” so the school clearly believes that its game this year against the Cardinals was not the only instance of an opponent benefiting from espionage.
In other words, stay tuned. The craziest story in college football — which is saying something — likely has a few more plot twists to go.
Update: Plot twist! Army’s athletic director, Boo Corrigan, told Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated that his school has been contacted by Wake Forest about the game-plans issue (or, as many are calling it online, #Wakeyleaks). The Black Knights defeated the Demon Deacons, 21–13, in October. Army is now the second 2016 opponent, after Louisville, known to be of interest, at the very least, to Wake Forest.