Bockrath was a horrible AD. His mismanaged a lot of situations. He was also the one who hired DuBose and that might have had a lot to do with him being fired over DuBose's crap. Being that Long is the one who hired Petrino, it's probably the smart move to clean up your own mistakes rather than leaving it to someone else to clean you up. If there is any sort of great outcry from Razorback fans over that then that's fine. They'll get over it fairly quickly especially if Petrino's replacement is high quality.
Not only has Bobby Petrino left a mess on Arkansas AD Jeff Long’s desk, but he’s warmed the seat beneath his boss’ rump, too. Long is now in a wildly unenviable position.
He can either:
A) Choose to keep Petrino, face a possible lawsuit from Jessica Dorrell if she decides to go that route, and take a beatdown from the national media, allowing the school’s reputation to be tarnished.
B) Choose to fire Petrino, clean the university’s name, and tick off the vast majority of the Razorback fanbase.
I happen to live in East Tennessee. I’ve also lived in Kentucky, Ohio and North Carolina for those who want to claim I’m a fan of one team or another.
But as an East Tennessean I can tell you that there is a sizable chunk of Tennessee’s fanbase that still doesn’t believe former hoops coach Bruce Pearl had to be fired. They literally don’t get it. Can’t grasp it. Can’t wrap their heads around the fact that a coach facing a three-year show-cause penalty — with a staff also facing a one-year suspension — had to be let go.
And as a former resident of Columbus, Ohio, I can tell you that more than a few Ohio State fans have told me they’re angry that Jim Tressel was relieved of his duties by the OSU administration. Nevermind the five-year show-cause penalty the NCAA handed him.
Hell, fans literally rioted in State College, Pennsylvania when Penn State University fired Joe Paterno… despite the fact that the school — thanks in part to Paterno’s lack of action and lack of follow-ups — is now facing potential lawsuits out the proverbial ying-yang.
Oh, if Long does what it looks like he’ll have to do for the sake of the University of Arkansas from a legal standpoint — and that’s axe Petrino — he’ll be pilloried by folks in plastic Hog hats who just wanna win football games.
Andy Staples of SI.com weighs in on Long’s situation in an excellent piece right here. Heck, if we’d seen this piece first we might’ve just linked you to it and not bothered writing our own detailed explanation of Petrino’s troubles moments ago.
In our piece, we listed a number of men who were undone by cover-ups. But there was another former SEC football coach who covered up and survived anyway. Take it away, Mr. Staples:
“Long is not the first athletic director to face this type of predicament. In May 1999, Alabama AD Bob Bockrath’s coach, Mike Dubose, lied about a relationship with a secretary after she filed a harassment complaint. Ultimately, the truth came out and the school had to pay the women $350,000. Did Alabama fire DuBose? Nope. It fired Bockrath. (DuBose went on to win the 1999 SEC title and himself fired in 2000 for losing.)”
If there’s someone in a spot as tight as Petrino’s today, it’s his boss, Long. And Petrino’s the man who put him there.
Now thousands of Atlanta Falcons and University of Louisville fans can correctly say to Long, “Told you so.”
Long’s gamble on Petrino paid off for a while, but boy that bubble has burst today.