Houston (CBS Houston) – The “fact is stranger than fiction” idiom rung true in the sports world again on Tuesday when former Wake Forest football analyst, Tommy Elrod, was revealed to be a mole within the program.
Elrod, an alumnus at Wake Forest, a former football player turned assistant coach turned broadcaster with the Demon Deacons, was leaking intellectual football property to Wake Forest opponents.
All this stemmed from some game plan type of papers left behind at Louisville that a Wake Forest staffer found. It led to an investigation, and eventually the uncovering of one of the worst back stabbings to an alma mater in recent athletic memory.
It’s unclear exactly Elrod was leaking, or even why. What we do know is that Elrod was a former assistant under Jim Grobe that was not retained by current head coach Dave Clawson. Wake Forest sent out a press release indicating that Elrod had been leaking information to Wake Forest opponents since 2014.
Louisville Athletic Director, Tom Jurich, confirmed that Elrod gave Louisville offensive coordinator, Lonnie Galloway, some plays to be prepared for but were never used. Elrod knew Galloway since 2007 and were on the same Wake Forest staff in 2011 and 2012.
Did these “Wakeyleaks” lead to Wake Forest losing more games than they should? Probably not. Did it have any impact what so ever on the Demon Deacon’s football season? I tend to think, no. But how does it impact sports media?
Long gone are the days of drinking a scotch and smoking a cigar with a coach or player that the media covers. It’s a different time in the world of sports media as everyone is more worried about being first than right. Coaches and players are more guarded than ever and trust fewer and fewer people because of guys like Tommy Elrod, who abuse their position for own personal gain.
What did Elrod have to gain? Only Elrod knows that. I have my guesses. Perhaps he wanted to get back at Dave Clawson for not retaining him on the Wake Forest staff. Maybe he wants to help out other coaches he knows in the business in hopes to one day being on their staffs.
But back to the relationships between sports media and the people they cover. I’ve had the good fortune to be the radio guy for a lot of different teams over the years. With those teams come a lot of different coaches and players from a variety of different sports, and the one thing that is more invaluable than anything else is the relationships built.
Having those relationships and having that trust makes you better at your job, and maintaining that trust gains you the respect from others that is way more important than web clicks, followers or getting revenge on a guy that didn’t let you have your job back.
I’d like to believe that this incident won’t tighten the hold on the relationships those in sports media have with those that they cover, but fact is stranger than fiction.