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Jim Caldwell Coached Tommy Elrod, Remembers A Different Man

By: Will Burchfield

Long before Tommy Elrod became the face of a national scandal, he was just another football player at Wake Forest University.

And his coach at the time was Jim Caldwell.

Caldwell remembers a different man than the one who has been revealed in recent days as a traitor. Elrod, a former football broadcaster for Wake Forest, was fired by the University on Tuesday for leaking game plans to the team's opponents.

"I know that young man very well, played for me. Model student, model citizen, great family background. I can't tell you anything else about that," Caldwell said. "He's always been a very fine worker and obviously looks like he's made some mistakes."

Elrod played for Caldwell from 1994 to 1997. Caldwell confirmed the two have stayed in touch in the years since, but said Elrod has not reached out to him since the scandal came to light.

Though Elrod's betrayal was profound, it's not entirely uncommon to uncover such acts of crookedness in the game of football. Caldwell remembers a similar instance, though he wouldn't say where or when, at a former coaching job.

"There was a guy from a particular school in our building going through our trash. It was on a Thursday, so he was trying to find some little inkling of what we may be doing that upcoming game. That was about the only one, and that was way back when," Caldwell said.

Apparently, the trash-digger was caught by a janitor and a graduate assistant.

"They got him out of the building rather quickly. It wasn't like he was prosecuted or anything of that nature," Caldwell said, with a chuckle.

Given the scrutiny with which teams and coaches are watched these days, everyone within the sport seems to follow a common code of ethics. But it wasn't always like that.

"A long time ago there'd be some instances, recorded instances, where guys were scouting other teams and hiding in buildings across the street and filming - all kinds of stuff," Caldwell recalled.

He got a first-hand look at this culture of deception during his days as a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa.

"We used to have to exchange film," Caldwell said. "So you would supposedly change four games and you'd take it and you'd exchange it with the guy from the opposite school and every once in a while they'd say, "Ahh well, we don't have that fourth one, we'll send it to you.' Or you look in it and there's been some plays cut out of it so you can't see the play.

"So there was a lot of stuff going on like that back in the old days. But nowadays, you get all that information."

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