Luke DeCock

Wakeyleaks an unfortunate distraction from real progress at Wake Forest – DeCock

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino watches his team play Wake Forest at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on Nov. 12.
Louisville coach Bobby Petrino watches his team play Wake Forest at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on Nov. 12. Getty Images

The unfortunate thing about the so-called “Wakeyleaks” scandal is not that it forces football fans to confront the reality that, at this point, they would believe Bobby Petrino capable of just about anything, but that it distracts from what has been an otherwise remarkable football season at Wake Forest.

Who knows what the truth is, but Wake Forest does not have a history of making waves, nor does it have a history of acting rashly, nor is Dave Clawson the kind of person who regularly steals headlines with outrageous comments, which suggests Clawson’s confirmation that portions of the Deacons’ game plan for Louisville were discovered at Papa John’s Stadium – with the implication Louisville somehow had access to portions of the Deacons’ playbook before last week’s game – is a situation that should be taken seriously.

There are no sour grapes here from Wake Forest; while the Deacons were up 12-0 at one point over a very listless Louisville team, the Cardinals had no trouble rallying for a 44-12 win in the second half, whether they knew what was coming from Wake Forest or not.

There are ways other than espionage Wake Forest confidential information could fall into Louisville’s hands, including poor discipline by Wake Forest itself, so the investigation will begin internally. But this will surely be given due consideration by the ACC should Wake Forest’s investigation turn up any shenanigans.

Wake hasn’t accused Louisville of anything yet, and Petrino has denied any involvement, but the implication is there. Because it’s Petrino, it’s easy to reflexively assume the worst. Given his history, you could tell people anything, no matter how preposterous, and they’d have to at least consider it. “Louisville is using elk as tackling dummies.” “Well, it is Petrino.”

There’s a hint of ACC schadenfreude over Louisville’s exit from CFP consideration with Thursday night’s loss to Houston, even if it’s bad news for the league overall as the dream of two ACC teams in the CFP semifinals, already the longest of shots, is officially dead. (Clemson better not muck around, either; the Big Ten is perfectly willing to supply all three non-Alabama teams if given the chance, as Barry Alvarez sits on his throne, plotting.)

Wake Forest is not under CFP consideration but it’s no less of a breakthrough season for the Deacons than if they were. Clawson started at the bottom, basically starting from scratch after the program stagnated in the final years under Jim Grobe. The Deacons have gone from 3-9 in 2014 and 2015 to 6-4 this season despite losing playmaking quarterback Kendall Hinton (Southern Durham) in Week 3. With Clemson and Boston College still on the schedule, Wake Forest has every chance to finish 7-5, which would be the Deacons’ best season since 2008.

By posting wins over Duke and Indiana while taking care of business against Syracuse and Virginia, the Deacons are established on an upward course and there’s every reason to believe Clawson and his staff have them on the right track – if Clawson sticks around. He may not be the most famous name out there, but his work at Fordham, Richmond, Bowling Green and Wake Forest is widely respected and he could be a dark-horse candidate for bigger jobs, especially as dominoes fall at LSU and elsewhere.

Depending how things turn out, the Deacons’ season may end up being remembered more for Wakeyleaks than returning to bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011, but the real drama was on the field, not away from it.

Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock

Clemson at Wake Forest

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: BB&T Stadium, Winston-Salem

TV: ESPN

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