Wake Forest still is coming to grips with the incredibly odd tale of Tommy Elrod, the former Demon Deacons quarterback and assistant coach who — in his role as color commentator for the team’s radio broadcasts — was found to have given inside intelligence about the program to a number of the team’s opponents. On Thursday, Coach Dave Clawson spoke about the ordeal for the first time, and while he declined to give further details about the school’s continuing investigation, he was clear about his feelings on the matter.
“They were cheated,” Clawson said of his players, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. “They were not given a fair chance to compete on multiple occasions, and there’s nothing we can do about it. We found out what happened. We found out who did it. They’re no longer part of our program. Now we need to move forward and try to win a bowl game.”
Elrod was an assistant to former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe for 11 seasons but was not kept on the staff when Clawson took over after the 2013 season. Instead, he moved from the coaches’ booth to the broadcast booth. The IMG Radio Network, which operates the Wake Forest broadcasts, has since fired Elrod, and he’s been banned from the school’s athletic facilities.
Clawson told ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” on Friday morning that he had at least some misgivings about allowing Elrod nearly total access to his team, including game film, ostensibly so he could prepare for his radio broadcasts.
“I remember when he was first hired to do our radio broadcasts. I talked to his partner and said, ‘Do you think this is really a good move to hire somebody in this position that was just let go?’ ” Clawson said. “And [he] was almost incredulous, like: ‘Are you kidding me? This guy loves Wake Forest and would do anything for Wake Forest.’ So we embraced him. We allowed him to have access to all of our practices, our press conferences.”
Clawson also talked about how he found out that the Demon Deacons’ game-planning had been compromised ahead of a Nov. 12 game at Louisville.
“When we arrived for our game against Louisville in early November, our equipment staff had found materials on our sideline the Friday when setting up the locker room,” Clawson said. “You’re not allowed to get there until a certain time, the assumption being they’re going through their walk-through. And our equipment people found cards laying right on our sideline and didn’t think much of it.
“And the day of the game we got there about an hour before, and the equipment manager presented our offensive coordinator with the cards and said, ‘I don’t think this is any big deal,’ just a lot of stuff that we do normally. And our coordinator flipped through it, and there was very, very detailed information there. Formations that we had never run, alignments, even some of it was even some empty sets we had never run before, but some of it was even sets we had run but we had flipped personnel.”
Elrod’s motivations have not yet been revealed, though on the surface it would appear to be a case of revenge for not being retained. Also unclear is the exact number of teams to which Elrod leaked the information. Louisville and Virginia Tech both have admitted to receiving information, and Army officials said Elrod contacted the Black Knights but did not send any information, according to the Journal.
With the lone exception of Indiana, whose officials did not respond to requests for comment from the News & Observer’s Joe Giglio, every other school on the Demon Deacons’ schedule over the past three seasons has said they have not been contacted by Wake Forest as part of its investigation. The Hoosiers have played the Demon Deacons in each of the past two seasons, and in 2015 they had an assistant named Brian Knorr on their coaching staff. Knorr, who moved on to Ohio State ahead of the 2016 season, coached with Elrod at Wake Forest.
In an attempt to suss out whether Elrod was providing the information to Wake Forest’s opponents for the purpose of betting against the Demon Deacons, Giglio notes that Wake Forest won three of the five games, against Army, Virginia Tech, Louisville and Indiana, that are in question. It also covered the point spread in three of the games, including the loss to Louisville this year that brought Elrod’s alleged misdeeds to light.