The dirt keeps piling up at Louisville on Tom Jurich's watch

Dan WetzelColumnist
Tom Jurich, left, and Bobby Petrino deny any wrongdoing in the Wake Forest game-plan breach. (AP)
Tom Jurich, left, and Bobby Petrino deny any wrongdoing in the Wake Forest game-plan breach. (AP)

You would have thought that the most baffling thing to happen this week in college athletics would be the curious case of a Wake Forest football radio broadcaster getting fired for sharing “confidential and proprietary game preparations on multiple occasions” with opposing teams over the past few years.

There is nothing like the radio guy selling out his own program, where he used to coach and play, no less.

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Then, however, came a statement Wednesday from University of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich. It rewrites the definition of NCAA tone-deafness and pretty much explains how college sports got here in the first place.

First, recall that the Cardinals were under suspicion for cheating after documents Wake Forest said were “related to their game plan” were discovered at Papa John’s Stadium following the Cardinals’ 44-12 victory last month.

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino denied the Cardinals cheated or knew anything about it. He was aghast at the implication.

Then this week, Wake revealed that broadcaster Tommy Elrod had been canned for sharing secrets. When Elrod was on the Wake staff, he was co-coordinator of the passing game with a guy named Lonnie Galloway, who, not coincidentally, is now an assistant at … Louisville.

And so now we get this gem from Jurich, Louisville’s long-time boss of athletics:

“Our offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway and Tommy Elrod have known each other since 2007. Lonnie received a call from Elrod during the week of the Wake Forest game, and some information was shared with him that week.

“Among the communication were a few plays that were sent and then shared with our defensive staff. None of the special plays were run during the course of the game. Our defense regularly prepares for similar formations every week in their normal game plan.

“Any other information that may have been discussed was nothing that our staff had not already seen while studying Wake Forest in their preparations for the game and the material was not given any further attention. I’m disappointed that this issue has brought undue attention to our football staff as we prepare for our upcoming bowl game.”

Translated to English:

Sure, sure, we attempted to cheat but we didn’t actually cheat because of circumstance. Plus, we already knew some of the secret information, so, trust us, it wouldn’t have mattered at all. Oh, and while we were completely wrong the last time we discussed this, you can totally trust what we are saying now. It’s the truth. Scout’s Honor. Now leave us alone because people asking us about this is unfair to us.

Those poor Victim Cardinals. Can someone get Papa John to build a safe space for them?

Jurich’s statement is so comically ridiculous it doesn’t even merit outrage. Just laughs. Of course Tom Jurich would sign off on that.

Look, this isn’t exactly death-penalty stuff. Coaches routinely try to find out any nugget of information from anywhere they can. Elrod was clearly willing to deal it. Why? Maybe it was because the new Wake Forest coach didn’t keep him on staff? Maybe it was for gambling purposes? Maybe it was just because? Who knows?

Even if this is commonplace, it’s still cheating. Anything else is sugarcoating it.

Jurich is claiming it was just attempted cheating, which isn’t any better. It is like attempted murder – just because you’re a lousy shot doesn’t excuse anything. And his reasoning on how they already knew all these plays and formations is ridiculous. You can’t be a little bit pregnant on this. Besides, why would anyone take Louisville’s word for it? That the Cardinals probably would have won anyways is likewise immaterial.

The Cards cheated. And the AD is so delusional he doesn’t appear to care at all. He isn’t just not blaming or disciplining his assistant coach, he’s throwing a pity party for the guy.

If that’s the attitude of the chief administrator, well, is it really that big of a surprise that Louisville is the first school nailed in this scandal?

You might recall this is the same athletic department that saw its basketball program busted by the NCAA in October because an assistant coach kept hiring prostitutes to service players and recruits in the team dorm.

The assistant coach didn’t just do it once, but on 15 separate occasions, as Jurich, head coach Rick Pitino and anyone else at the university apparently paid not a bit of attention over what was going on during recruiting visits.

Then there is Petrino, who was fired at Arkansas after he wrecked his Harley with a former volleyball player on the back. His wife didn’t play volleyball. That’s not good. In professional terms, what’s worse was when it was revealed he’d hired the volleyball player on his staff.

And of course Pitino survived the 2003 incident where he had sex in a booth of a local restaurant that eventually led to an assistant coach driving the woman to Cincinnati for an abortion that Pitino paid for.

These are just the greatest hits, all while Jurich was athletic director. If nothing else, it’s never a dull moment at U of L.

As for the prostitute scandal, the assistant coach quit and ran. The coach and AD stayed on and blamed it all on the assistant.

Now Jurich is blaming it all on Wake Forest. If only that radio guy hadn’t called and offered up the info, our guy wouldn’t have so accurately written it down and then turned it over to the defensive assistants who then studied it.

Apparently, it doesn’t make sense to expect an assistant to decline the info because, you know, it’s cheating. Or attempted cheating. Or whatever the rationalization is.

Give Jurich credit for not even pretending to care. Nope. At Louisville, it’s the coaches who are the victims here, harassed by all this undue attention.

So light a candle for poor Tom Jurich and his staff. Times are tough out there.

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