If you’re looking for some over-the-top moments that violate the collective sense of propriety for how athletics should be conducted, college football really is the gift that keeps on giving.
And, man, did it give this year? Just in the last month, the game of Gipp, Griffin and Gifford gave us Ohio State, a team that didn’t win its league or even its division, yet earned one of four spots to play for a mythical national title.
In the last week, we saw video of Joe Mixon, an Oklahoma running back, punching a woman in a restaurant.
It happened three years ago, and Mixon is remarkably still on the Sooners roster up to and including the big bowl game on Jan. 2 because his right cross isn’t nearly as important as his ability to run over right tackle.
However, the biggest laugh out loud moment of the year comes from, of all places, Wake Forest, which, as a football power, is a pretty good literary school.
But the Demon Deacons are the talk of the season, for a most unusual reason, namely pigskin espionage.
It seems that Tommy Elrod, a radio analyst, allegedly gave information about the Deacs’ game plans to opponents over a three-year span in a scheme that has come to be known as Wakey-leaks.
Elrod, who played quarterback for Wake in the 1990s, then was an assistant coach in a previous regime, was let go when the current staff came on in 2014.
However, the school kept him on as the color analyst on its radio broadcasts. But when some of the Deacs’ game plan documents turned up at Louisville’s stadium before a game last month, Wake officials launched an investigation.
Its preliminary findings allegedly point to Elrod, who was unceremoniously fired last week, and barred from access to the football program.
Elrod has been silent since the allegations emerged, but Louisville officials have come forth to acknowledge that football team coaches used some of the material they were presented.
It’s not clear how much the Wake game plans helped Louisville in a game the Deacons lost 44-12, but Wake coach Dave Clawson said the team had to scrap plays that were specifically designed for that game because of the breach.
The Atlantic Coast Conference has fined Louisville and Virginia Tech, which received Wake’s plans in 2014, each a modest $25,000, and the Louisville offensive coordinator, who accepted the plays, has been suspended for the team’s upcoming bowl game.
And there’s word that officials at Army, a place where honor and integrity are supposed to mean something, are also on watch, since they reportedly got Wake’s plans for this year and two years ago.
It should go without saying that Tommy Elrod will never work in football ever again, which is as it should be.
But while Elrod is despicable, anyone who accepted the plans without immediately notifying someone in authority about the deception is nearly as culpable.
For a sport like college football whose leaders talk regularly about honesty and commitment and, yes, integrity and deliver quite the opposite, the Wake incident isn’t an outlier.
And that’s no gift. In fact, it ought to be a crime. The fact that it isn’t makes the sport a sad joke.
And that’s how I see it for this week.
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