To be a Wake Forest Demon Deacon sports fan is to have a love affair with what seems like frequent disappointment occasionally sprinkled with periods of wild success. But to love the Deacs is to accept that there will be times when our school as one of the smallest to field a team in some FBS sports will not be a perennial powerhouse in every sport, especially football.
However, while I accept that Wake will not win an abundance of national football championships, I do expect them to compete in the most honorable ways with student athletes who do the work in the classroom as well as on the practice and athletic fields.
When an athlete comes to Wake Forest for any sport, there is an expectation that he/she can academically shoulder the burden of being a serious student on a campus where no one can really be anonymous.
Wake rarely gets that top recruit in football, so when a coach builds a team in Winston-Salem, it must be a deliberate undertaking like no other. Depth becomes a problem in some areas and the need to have that air-tight game plan becomes crucial to even becoming a bowl-eligible team.
And then this debacle happens – “Wakeyleaks.”
To be in the news because of this is less than flattering to say the least (ESPN, Sports Illustrated, etc.) and if the accusations that have been laid out against Tom Elrod are true, then his career in any capacity with athletics is over.
It’s hard to conceive that Wake Forest would elect to break news of the results of its internal investigation that implicate Elrod without knowing for damn sure that it had hard evidence supporting its claims. And while that evidence seems to have not been presented to the general public to quell any doubts, there has been no word from Elrod who deos deserve his time to respond.
Wake claims that they have evidence of “leaks” since 2014, the year Clawson took the reins of the program and decided not to keep Elrod on his staff. If that was a motivation for Elrod to possibly do what he did, then it is weak as he should know that the world of college football usually involves the turnover of entire staffs when new coaches come in. Plus, Elrod worked for Jim Grobe, who was almost loyal to a fault to his assistant coaches.
Bobby Petrino’s denial that Louisville did not receive any information of Wake’s game plan before this year’s game seems to be partly refuted by reports today. Furthermore, Petrino’s word does come with a high amount of sodium. Remember Arkansas and the mistress on the motorcycle? Or how about how he left the Atlanta Falcons in the middle of the year without even telling his players? Just ask any die-hard Falcons fan.
But I really feel for the players on the Wake team, especially those who have played the last three years in Clawson’s system. If what is claimed really happened, then these young men deserve the real explanation. They were let down by the adults whether one here at Wake or coaches and teams who took information that jeorpardized the team’s ability to compete.
Consider every close game that Wake has had in the last three years that was lost in the fourth quarter because the other team seemed to have an invisible advantage.
How many times has our quarterback been hit because the defense may have been privy to a play call that forced him to not be able to pass?
How many times did our defense have to stay on the field because the offense could not sustain a drive?
And how does this erode the confidence that the young men on the team have in the very people who are supposed to be not only supporting them, but who speak for them?
For me as a Wake fan, I have to hold onto certain memories to sustain me through lean years. Winning the ACC in football in 2006 may have to last me a lifetime, but I know Wake did it the right way. Players graduated with degrees and felt loyalty to the school. Integrity mattered on everyone’s part – players and coaches and those who support their efforts.
“Wakeyleaks” may take a while to get over, yet, I think it is obvious that the real victims here are the players who just took exams at a competitive academic institution to play football for a school that really has to work to have a winning record.
I hope their welfare is the most important priority of the coaches and athletic department.
And to tell you the truth, I am rarely disappointed in them as long as they play hard and compete.