On Tuesday night, University of Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long held an emotional, stand-up press conference to announce the termination of head football coach Bobby Petrino.
The coach was fired for cause in the wake of a motorcycle accident cover-up that involved Petrino’s inappropriate relationship with a female faculty member who had been recently hired by the coach.
During the session, Long disclosed that Jessica Dorrell was one of 159 candidates for a position and was also paid $20,000 under the table by coach Bobby.
Unlike nearly four and a half years ago when Petrino was hired, this presser did not feature cheerleaders doing the ‘Woo, Pig, Sooie’ chant.
Perhaps the university should have expected that things would not end well with Petrino after wooing him in December of 2007 from then-employer the Atlanta Falcons, midway through the NFL season.
Turns out Petrino is about as loyal to his wife in 2012 as he was to the Atlanta Falcons in ‘07.
Between the administration at Arkansas, Bobby Petrino, and the cheating woman who was slated to get married ten weeks later, there is plenty of bad judgment to go around.
Incidentally, according to family, Jessica Dorrell remains in ‘safe mode’, which I assume is hiding out in the same cave Steve Bartman has been hiding in for the last 8 ½ years. Or ‘safe mode’ until the next reality show comes calling; somewhere the Kardashian sisters must be getting nervous.
Five days ago as news of the scandal first broke, I suggested that Petrino would survive, at least for now, because Arkansas did well in 2011. That was my knee-jerk reaction. My opinion changed over the weekend, especially after reading the takes of others regarding the scandal; and by the end of the weekend the termination was inevitable.
As supposedly ‘damaging’ a blow this is supposed to be for the Razorbacks program, it is really more of a blessing in disguise.
Bobby Petrino is best served in short doses to begin with; he only lasted with Louisville for four years, and he used the Falcons gig only as a bridge before an SEC opening became available.
In the past few days, the Arkansas situation has been compared to basically everything, including what happened at Penn State. Bobby Petrino the adulterer-liar and Jerry Sandusky the pedophile are apples and oranges. But if Joe Paterno (on his death bed) can get run out over a cover up, if the great Jim Tressel can get run over a cover-up, then Bobby Petrino and his neck brace and face resembling a pizza can definitely get run out, even after a 11-2 season and the school’s first top-five finish in the national polls since 1977.
Then there is the apples-to-apples comparison that occurred with another SEC program not long ago.
In 1998 Alabama head football coach Mike DuBose was involved in a relationship with a secretary within the university. DuBose wound up remaining coach for the 1999 season and after an early-season non-conference loss the AD was made the scapegoat and let go. Surprisingly, the Crimson Tide wound up winning the SEC that season.
Going into the 2000 season Alabama was ranked #3 in the preseason polls, but the team would go 3-8 that season. DuBose was let go after that debacle, after which the NCAA found violations within the program under DuBose’s watch – which set ‘Bama back until Nick Saban’s hiring in 2007.
Also, SEC coaches tend not to last long by nature. Of the current 14 teams in the conference, Georgia’s Mark Richt (who’s been on the hot seat seemingly forever) and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel have lasted the longest at their current schools with 11 years tenure. A recent Athlon ranking had Petrino ranked as the second-best coach in the conference, which is questionable considering Les Miles was ranked sixth and Gene Chizik ninth; both of those coaches have National Championships on their resume.
As of seven days ago, the status of Razorbacks football was indeed bright, but Petrino’s situation was untenable under these circumstances – the football squad would have been the backdrop of a side-show for the 2012 season, and good luck trying to land recruits.
So Arkansas rolls with an interim coach for the 2012 season. The Razorbacks will still field a team, obviously, and it has the potential to be a good one. Plus, they still get LSU and Alabama at home, so the program could still have a great year. The last time I checked Petrino was a coach and not a player.
If there was no motorcycle accident and the ensuing scandal, maybe Arkansas has one or two more decent years before Petrino would bolt somewhere else, or the NCAA would come calling and find another type of ‘cheating’ or other wrong-doing in the program. This is a man that can’t be trusted.
As for candidates, Arkansas could hire Guz Malzahn (recently hired at Arkansas State), Skip Holtz (Lou coached at Arkansas 1977-83), or someone else nowhere on anyone’s board right now.
Bobby Petrino leaves a ton of wreckage in Fayetteville besides what’s left of his Harley-Davidson in the most infamous bike mishap and lie since the days of Jeff Kent. But five years from now Arkansas will be more than over it while Petrino closes out his coaching career coaching a Conference USA school.