When news broke Tuesday afternoon that the source of the "WakeyLeaks" saga was a likely disgruntled former Wake Forest coach turned analyst who had been sharing Demon Deacon information with opponents since 2014, I thought it was funny. Chalk it up to having "no moral compass" or whatever you want, but I still think it's funny.
I'm sure there is a percentage of people out there who are legitimately disturbed by the notion that a college coach could be called up by an old colleague, be told of certain plays that the coach's upcoming opponent might run, and that the coach wouldn't immediately turn his old colleague in. The vast majority of the sports world that is shouting outrage over this is faking it though, and they know they're faking it.
If you get told before a hand what cards your opponent at the poker table has been dealt, you're going to fold or bet accordingly. If you notice that an opposing pitcher tucks his right arm in before he's about to throw a breaking ball, you're going to let the guys wearing the same jersey as you know, not vice versa. You can say you wouldn't do these things, but you would, and that's fine. Your favorite team has probably done something analogous.
In the 10 years I've been covering Louisville sports here, I've never had more people involved in athletics reach out to me to comment about a story than I have over the past 48 hours. The comments have all been nearly identical, and almost all of them have included the term "non-story."
Here's an example from a current coach who has zero affiliation with U of L:
I think at some point, every fan should sit down and have a lengthy conversation with a major college football or basketball coach. Will it cause you to look at the sport differently? Of course, but I think the resulting change in perspective would allow us all to view things through a less clouded lens and allow us to have more meaningful and candid conversations about certain things.
The flip side of this has been the polar opposite messages I've gotten from friends, acquaintances and fellow fans who are ... well, they're just f---ing tired of having to deal with stuff like this. I get that too.
It's supposed to be about the games, the pursuit of championships and all the fun little quirks that come with fandom. It's not supposed to be about constantly seeing your program's name in the middle of negative headlines and perpetually feeling like a witness being cross-examined by a district attorney every time you try to talk about sports.
The exasperation being showcased by Louisville fans isn't a direct response to a football coach knowing about a few trick plays that he shouldn't have known about, it's a direct response to fatigue that has been building for a few years now. It's Faye Dunaway flipping out about wire hangers -- the thing we're screaming about isn't really the issue here, there's some other deep-seeded ish that's been bugging us.
I know I don't speak for all U of L fans, but I feel safe in assuming that for most of us, our frustration stems from the fact that some within the athletic program seem painfully unaware that they're dancing the samba on ice that isn't completely frozen over at the moment.
You can bring Bobby Petrino back, you can stand strong with Rick Pitino, we're good with that. At the same time, these moves come hand-in-hand with the potential of heightened scrutiny. If you're good with that, then ok, but you have to at least be aware of it. You have to understand that if a coach (or whoever is controlling his Twitter account) likes a tweet that is even borderline improper, what would be a blip at any other program is going to become a national story for you. You have to understand that in a situation where 99 percent of major college programs would cut a corner, you have to be the outlier now and go above and beyond to promote your virtue. You also have to understand that when you don't do these things, it's going to take a toll on the people who proudly sport your logo year round and who fuel everything that you do.
I'm so used to it now that it doesn't really bother me, but yes, I'd like to be able to make a tweet about the U of L golf team performing well in a tournament without being bombarded by tired hooker jokes and improper references to "scandals." Sports are supposed to be a healthy distraction from the frustrations and stressors that come with the real world, and instead it's felt like everything has all been under the same umbrella for the past 14 months or so. I'm ready for it to be fun again.
To those at U of L who might be throwing their hands up and wondering why they -- and not Wake Forest or Army or Indiana -- have become the focal point of this WakeyLeaks story that they probably think shouldn't even be a story in the first place, I get it. But to those same people, allow me to deliver a more important message: Tighten. Your. Sh-t. Up.
Your situation isn't the same as the rest of the country, at least not right now. Whether that's fair or not doesn't matter at this point. Regardless of how ridiculous you may think it is, you have to go above and beyond for the foreseeable future to make sure that no little thing becomes fodder for those willing to wait months at the trough for their next feeding session.
Tighten it up. Everything.