Remember the name Jack Sells?
I don’t. You probably won’t either. Sells was last relevant in the football world all the way back in 1991.
Sells, you see, was a former Tennessee assistant coach who was let go after the 1991 season. What Sells did to become notorious sounds eerily similar to the recent incidents involving Wake Forest and former assistant coach Tommy Elrod.
However, Sells’ actions seemed much more egregious, especially considering the time.
Before the Vols were set to play their bitter rival, Florida, Sells allegedly went into a Knoxville Kinko’s and faxed several hand-drawn Tennessee plays to Gators’ defensive coordinator Ron Zook. What Sells didn’t know was an employee at Kinko’s would alert the University of Tennessee and some media outlets about the faxes.
This was later referred to as Faxgate.
The connections between Sells and Zook were obvious. Sells was an assistant with Zook at Tennessee in the 80s’ and the two remained close friends. So, the recently-fired assistant coach would do his buddy a favor and give him some of Tennessee’s plays. This all happened right as the Gators were set to host the Vols.
Florida went on to win the game, 35-18, and Steve Spurrier would lead the Gators to an SEC championship that season.
Did the information Sells provide actually help Florida?
Well, it certainly didn’t hurt. But how much of that information hurt the Vols will truly never be known. Players still have to execute on the field
It certainly proved costly for Sells in the short term. He received numerous death threats and was even punched at a bar where he was a patron. And, presumably due to the stress of this incident, Sells left football behind.
The incident did have somewhat of a positive outcome for Sells. He sued Kinko’s for $3 million for violating his privacy and essentially ruining his coaching career (his words). The two sides settled and Spurrier joked—in classic Spurrier fashion—”I guess Jack's got him a brand-new house somewhere.”
This incident isn’t exact to what happened with Wake Forest, but does bear numerous similarities.
While we don’t hear of many situations such as this often, they are probably much more common than we think.
And kudos to Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock for getting out in front of this. Louisville AD Tom Jurich could surely learn a thing or two from Whit.