There is a real and lasting benefit from Wakeyleaks, the now-three-day-old scandal surrounding the now-former Wake Forest radio analyst who provided his team’s plays to other teams, most notably Louisville.
And that benefit is this: There will be more people hired to take care of evidence disposal, a jobs program for coaches who can't muster the time or energy to say, "We're not using their plays."
At the smallest operations -- youth teams, middle- and high school operations, football coaches will learn to be tidier, making the jobs of stadium cleanup crew members just a little bit easier. And higher up the food chain, a whole army of new football staffers to re-remind everyone that universities serve the football program, and not the other way around.
Refusing illicitly gained information because it isn’t sporting behavior? Don’t be a weenie.
True, this isn’t the debate going on among the nation’s chattering classes. They want to focus on honor and ethics and morality and dignity and effective punishment. They want to know who should get fired over this – other than the radio analyst, who already has been.
That is all nonsense, and clickbait disguised as trumped-up naivete. Big-money (and even a lot of small-money) football is among the last pursuits anyone should go to in search of any of that old-school virtue-mongering.
But for those few of you who might have ever had postgame access to a coaches booth know that they leave it like an upper-classman’s dorm room. Papers, cups, food wrappers, food – frankly, the place looks like a garbage truck threw up inside it.
Hey, calling a punt direction or a running play on second-and-two is very stressful work, and slovenliness is just part of the price we must pay.
But no more. Wakeygate, which blew up because a Louisville coach left the Wake Forest plays he’d received behind, where they were found by a Wake employee and turned over to administrators to start the process that brings us to this point.
Which is, missing the point.
Coaches are not going to turn down free information or any other kind of perceived competitive edge, no matter where it came from – Wikileaks, Facebook fake news, Vladimir Putin himself, it doesn’t matter. Football doesn’t pay off on ethics. It pays off only on wins, and anything that makes that pursuit even microscopically more difficult is to be ignored and actively shunned.
Why? Because every lesson football provides is about getting over on the other guy by any means necessary, and even when it isn’t necessary. The moral needle at any big time football program goes from “what we need” to “what we want,” and usually that doesn’t mean any needle movement at all.
After all, nobody gets a new contract for “respecting the game,” or “honoring the sport.” Guys get contracts for winning, and if that means making the other team do their Friday walkthrough in a gravel pit next to a paint factory fire, hey that’s just good old-fashioned gamesmanship. If it means stealing the other team’s playbook, and then stealing the playbook every team does after the first one is stolen, well, that’s the price of doing business, and stop being a whiny baby about it.
Oh, and that means fans and media, too. You want honor and moral imperatives and decency and life lessons for your kids, look away now. Football is a charnel house, period, and if you insist otherwise, we’re going to have to take time out of our, and your, busy days seeking you out and slapping some sense into you.
No, the development that happens as a result of Wakeyleaks is that every program will either assign a cleanup coach or (at, say, Alabama) create the job as an entry-level position for future coaches. They stuff everything into bags, and that means everything, for future sorting, and then spraying down the booth to remove all other evidence that they were ever there.
This, of course, will induce teams to then hire their own CSI teams to seek out the evidence that even the most devoted tidy coach cannot collect and still catch the charter home, and suddenly you’ll get Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh demanding new contracts with an extra million to pay the cleanup coaches and the evidence collectors and the molecular scientists seeking out that elusive ink smear that can change the course of a season.
And we haven’t even gotten into the increased security costs for any outsider allowed into a practice or meeting: “Yes, I know you’re the president of the university, but if you want to see how we coach special teams, we’re going to have to insist you remove all your clothing and be subjected to a subcutaneous search for listening or photographic devices. Hey, you think Iowa State’s not doing the same thing? Do you want us to be competitive? What exactly do you stand for, Doctor Brainbox?”
And that’s where this will end. Volunteer tidy freaks, cleanup coaches, hazmat crews, bands of security thugs . . . hiding the evidence is now the next competitive edge in the sport, now that everyone has Star Trek weight rooms and cafeterias and meeting salons.
And doing the right thing? Well, it’s the 21st century, Scooter, and the overarching lesson of the 21st century is, “Live like a sap, die like a sap.”