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Hogs’ Petrino Put On Leave Amidst Scandal; We Find It Sad, Not Funny

These are the kinds of stories that get great headlines.  They draw in big pageviews.  They’re scandalous.  They’re hot.

And they make this writer frickin’ sick.

Bobby Petrino has been placed on paid leave after University of Arkansas officials learned he failed to disclose that a female UA employee was riding with him when he wrecked his motorcycle over the weekend.

As ESPN.com so gleefully put it in the story linked to above, the employee was “half his age.”  Petrino is 51.  His passenger is 25.

The Hogs’ football coach apologized Thursday for keeping that part of the story a secret.  He claimed he was trying to protect his family and wanted to keep an “inappropriate relationship from becoming public.”

Arkansas AD Jeff Long said during a late-Thursday press conference that he was “at the beginning of the review” into Petrino’s actions and that he did not know “what I’m going to find.”  Long gave no timeline for Petrino’s return to the Razorback football program that he has so quickly rebuilt.

Via press release, Petrino said: 


“I will fully cooperate with the university throughout this process and my hope is to repair my relationships with my family, my athletic director, the Razorback Nation and remain the head coach of the Razorbacks.”


At the moment, assistant head coach Taver Johnson has been placed atop the Arkansas football program.  Johnson joined the Razorback staff from Ohio State in January.

The passenger on Petrino’s motorcycle was 25-year-old football program employee Jessica Dorrell.  Dorrell is a former UA volleyball player who was hired on March 28 — yes, just about a week ago — as the football program’s student-athlete development coordinator by Petrino himself.  That fact could prove to be the ultimate downfall of the coach.  As a state employee, hiring one’s mistress is most likely a no-no.

Long was reportedly unaware of Dorrell’s involvement in the accident until Petrino called him just minutes before a police report was released to the public on Thursday evening.  That report said Petrino was riding with Dorrell when he lost control of his motorcycle.

The coach suffered broken ribs and various other cuts and abrasions in the accident.  He returned to the practice field Tuesday wearing a neckbrace.  Part of the coach’s Thursday statement read:


“I have been in constant pain, medicated and the circumstances involving the wreck have come out in bits and pieces.  That said I certainly had a concern about Jessica Dorrell’s name being revealed. 

In hindsight, I showed a serious mistake in judgment when I chose not to be more specific about those details.  Today, I’ve acknowledged this previous inappropriate relationship with my family and those within the athletic department administration.”


Initially the coach told the press that he was alone on his bike at the time of the accident.  Lying to the press will only add to Petrino’s misery.

Petrino is married and has four children and those two facts will help kick this story into absolute hyperdrive.  Everyone loves to jump on the sins of others and Arkansas’ head football coach is about to learn that lesson the hard way. 

A motorcycle crash?  That’s a top story for one episode of “SportsCenter.”  An “inappropriate relationship” with someone “half his age,” is day-in, day-out fodder for all the shows featuring talking heads (who’ve likely engaged in worse behavior themselves).  Hiring the person with whom you’re having said inappropriate relationship? “Ugh” is the only word that comes to mind.

Sadly, this writer isn’t a fan of the moral majority in this country.  I feel a bit queasy whenever the time comes to jump on someone else for a moral failing.  (Do a quick site search of our Damon Evans coverage and you’ll find that we tried to handle the dismissal of Georgia’s AD as a sad story rather than as a joke.) 

All that said, please, don’t take the above paragraph as a defense of Petrino’s actions.  He acted stupidly.  And he has his own family to answer to for those actions.  He also owes his boss, Long, and the University of Arkansas’ president an answer.  He represents the University of Arkansas.

But he sure as Hell doesn’t owe me, you or any other ESPN, CNN, FoxNews or Twitter-using smart ass an explanation.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a closet full of my own skeletons to worry about without trying to destroy someone else for his.

But the fact of the matter remains — Petrino’s contract with Arkansas features a clause that could allow UA to dismiss him for “engaging in conduct, as solely determined by the university, which is clearly contrary to the character and responsibilities of a person occupying the position of head football coach or which negatively or adversely affects the reputation of the (university’s) athletics programs in any way.”

Not good. 

In fact, the only thing working in the coach’s favor is his rapid-fire success in Fayetteville.  If Petrino were a .500 coach at this point, he’d already be on his way out the door.  Still, his on-field success to date might not be able to save him from the whole, “you hired your mistress” angle of the story.

Make no mistake, this is a home run of a topic.  And you can bet which trash sites will jump all over it with snarky comments and judgmental attitudes.  What could be funnier than a man ruining his life with a bad decision, after all?

Too bad you won’t get that type of coverage here.  Oh, we’ll cover this crap because it could lead to the firing of one of the SEC’s best football coaches.  We can not ignore that fact.

But we won’t rejoice in it, either.  And as a result we won’t get the pageviews cooked up by those sites that do pile on with five stories per day on this sad tale.

So be it. 

Billy Joel once sang he’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.  Well, I’d rather empathize with the sinners than laugh with the bloggers.

Here’s hoping Petrino can rebound from his failure.  Lord knows he’s not the first person to have one.

 


27 comments
Taxpayer
Taxpayer

Can I assume that Ms. Dorrell's $55,000 plus salary comes from public funds? If I were an Arkansas taxpayer i would be furious. And that is not a matter between Coach Petrino and his wife.

Fayettechill14
Fayettechill14

Well said, John. As much as it pains me to say it, Bobby has to go. It's not the LIE that should get him fired, it's the MESS the lie caused. We'll never be able to recruit under him now and the university's reputation has been tarnished.

 

The good news is that he's left us so much better than he found us 4 years ago. Arkansas has pulled even (or possibly above) schools like Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida, while closing the gap with Alabama and LSU.

quad77
quad77

I dont fully understand your point of view. 

He made an immoral decision, I have been tempted many times in my life but have never cheated on my wife. He apparently did. Through other transgressions in his life he has shown to be a selfish individual. 

He is a multimillionaire public figure paid by the state of Arkansas - he deserves all scrutiny he is getting. 

 

Bob
Bob

The bottom line is Petrino lied and tried to cover up his lies. Is this a man we want representing our university? Does he practice what he preaches to his players? Obviously not! He needs to be fired. And this 25 year old woman is just as guilty as Petrino is. She is supposed to be getting married in June. It takes two to tango! They both made the choice.

topixfocus
topixfocus

He isn't going anywhere. Arkansas is putting out the small fires surrounding this but, I assure you, he will be on the sidelines when the season rolls around. The leave "with pay" is proof of that. He has his issues to work out with family and this is a way of giving him the time to do it.  And, by the way, don't think the staff around the office didn't know what was going on. Think about your workplace. Don't you know who is banging the secretary in the next office? They did too, it just got put in the public eye, so they now have to deal with it.

GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

Ha. Karma. His adultery is between him and his family and due to the context, him and his employer. However, after the way he screwed the Falcons, tried to screw his good friend Tommy T. at Auburn, and now has screwed himself, it sure is sweet.

Walter G
Walter G

Holier than thou much, John?  You shouldn't be casting stones at all the other bloggers over this unless you are without sin.  This is a sad story about a coach with a history of lying who has lied once again.  It's not the story of how bloggers are handling it.  If you don't like how a blogger handles this, don't read him.

kaput
kaput

It's just obvious that, based on his previous actions (i.e., trying to get Tubberville outed Auburn, the way he left Atlanta, this), that he's got major issues with being an honest, straight forward person of character.  But should that matter?  That's a choice for everyone, and perhaps there are no wrong answers.

 

Lying to your bosses is always a bad idea, and hiring your mistress is just dumb. 

 

If he were at Florida, I'd want him out.  You are what you allow. 

Beoti
Beoti

This is a sad story for Mr. Petrino's family.  This is a sad story for the young lady and her family.  This is most certainly not a sad story of "What could be funnier than a man ruining his life with a bad decision."  Mr. Petrino has a well documented history of lying to his employers, the media, and the public.  His character flaw was well known by the UA administration and fan base when he was hired.  This story is the inevitable and disastrous manifestation of that character flaw.

 

Damon Evans' story was sad because it appeared his hubris sunk him from after his meteoric rise.  It is an-oft repeated folk story.  He may yet find his redemption, but we all know he will never achieve the same professional heights in college athletics.  Mr. Petrino has exhibited his hubris repeatedly with little consequences.  I guess you could say it is sad that he has yet to face consequences due to his repeated character failures, but is redeemed because he is a good football coach.  I say this is stupidity at its finest.  UA knew exactly what they were getting when they hired Mr. Petrino and they, along with Mr. Petrino, have earned all the ridicule headed their way.

Scott
Scott

Sorry, but your guilt trip isn't going to work on me.  I'm with the trash sites and bloggers on this one.  As a lifelong Falcons fan, I'm really, really, REALLY enjoying this.  If that makes makes me petty and small, so be it.

 

BTW, as a Knoxville based scribe, I'm sure you're aware of the rumors surrounding Lane Kiffin, who was allegedly in a near identical situation while at UT, but managed to sweep it under the rug.  If that story had come to light, would you have the same attitude about it?  Far be it for me to defend scum like Kiffin, but he did take a lot of heat here and elsewhere for things that other coaches do everyday.  Hell, even Mike Slive got in on the act.  I wonder if he'll have a crack wise on Petrino when he addresses you guys at Media Days this year?

Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump

John,

 

A sad fact of human nature is to watch the other person go down in flames. When he was hired I told some friends in Arkansas that he would be out in 5 years for something that would happen off the field of play. The nail in the coffin will be the crossing of the line on hiring a person you are having an affair with. He probably could have survived all the rest of it, but no school wants that legal albatross around their neck. The AD will have to act quickly on that issue lest it gain steam across a state supported institution and the legal vultures start looking for an easy meal.

Fayettechill14
Fayettechill14

The salary for that position is $55,000 per year anyway so someone was going to get paid. It's not like Ms. Dorrell wasn't qualified: she has a M.BA degree from the UofA, one of the top 20 business schools in the country.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

quad77...

 

My point of view is one of compassion.  I'm not surprised you don't understand that.  Many don't. 

 

But I'm glad you've lived a perfectly pure and moral life.  When I need someone to cast the first stone at a sinnger, I'll now know whom to call.

 

Thanks for reading,

John

mantan20
mantan20

The game changer is that he hired her as an employee.  Now the university has significant legal exposure if(when) things go south for a huge sexual  harassment suit.    It's a whole lot harder to forgive a coach for putting the school in that position than if he was just fooling around on the side.

 

They can't fire her.  If they keep him around they basically are condoning the situation, which makes the legal exposure that much greater.

 

They have to fire him.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

Walter G...

 

Hysterical.  I defend a man from the witch hunters out there and I'm viewed as being "holier than thou" against the witch hunters... because people enjoy a good witch hunt.

 

I stand by every word.  And this site is built on 1) News and 2) Our writers' opinions.  I gave you mine.

 

John

tradeassocation
tradeassocation

If you are a "lifelong Falcons fan" then your problems are WAY bigger are Petrino. (And as "lifelong Falcons fans" are also generally "lifelong UGA fans" and "lifelong Braves fans" ... ditto and more so.) Petrino was in Atlanta for less than a year. And when he was hired, a lot of you wanted him to be the guy who got rid of Michael Vick (long before anyone knew about the dogfighting), DeAngelo Hall etc. The truth is that Petrino did no harm whatsoever to the Falcons other than blowing 1st round pick on Jamaal Anderson - and don't pretend as if you guys didn't blow PLENTY of first (and second and third and fourth) round picks before and since. It is easier to stay angry at Petrino than it is to criticize the current coaches/ownership of the Falcons (and Braves and UGA) isn't it? Alabama fans have long gotten over their messes with Shula, Price and DuBose because they are winning titles. The same is true of the folks at Auburn: thanks to 2010, none of them are thinking about Tuberville or Petrino. LSU? No one there is thinking about what Saban did, because Les Miles has won 2 SEC titles, 2 BCS games and a national title since.

 

I am going to go ahead and say it: your problem isn't Bobby Petrino being Falcons' coach for (less than) a year: it is Mark Richt's being UGA's coach for more than 10 years. I personally think that Petrino should be fired for this, but then again I don't delude myself into thinking that this is anything other than VERY COMMON among men - and increasingly women - who are rich and powerful. Decadent behavior like this has been going on for who knows how long. Our press just doesn't cover it the way that the British tabloids do (unless something happens to make it newsworthy) which allows the folks who choose to remain deluded about how folks in positions of power really act remain just that: deluded. So if Arkansas has to fire their best coach since Lou Holtz - and unlike Holtz, one who has proven himself to be able to maintain winning and do so without scandal coming soon after - it won't be because Petrino is any worse a person than most people in power, but because he was reckless enough to get caught. (Yes, the same is true of Damon Evans.)

 

This isn't to say that there aren't legitimately good, decent guys in big time sports and in other positions of authority, but that we shouldn't act surprised when the guys that AREN'T get caught.

mantan20
mantan20

 @John at MrSEC 

If that compassion is universal, then it is truly admirable.   Too often in these situations people tend to be conditionally compassionate.  If you would take the exact same stance if it was a coach from another conference (Rick Pitino), a professional coach or athlete (Tiger Woods), a celebrity (too many to mention), a politician (Bill Clinton, Newt Gringrich), a religious leader (Jim Baker) or anyone else who were involved in an embarassing sex scandal brought about by their lack of self control than more power to you.

 

For most people the amount of compassion they have for public figures is directly correlated to how much they like or respect them.

 

 

quad77
quad77

 @John at MrSEC believe me I have sinned and sinned again but I have remained faithful to my wife.

If I ever do cheat on her I deserve whatever humiliation comes my way. 

 

Brad
Brad

 @John at MrSEC Unlike Walter and kaput who so clearly did not get your message John, I 100% agree with you.

 

To Walter and kaput - John's point wasn't based on whether the story is true or not.  His point is that people should keep their opinions based on facts as opposed to their self-imposed moral beliefs on others.  We've all done stupid things and have certain aspects of our lives at one point or another that we'd rather others never find out about.  This is what John was pointing out.  It's not funny that an innocent wife, four kids, and this woman's fiance are all going to have to live through this ordeal which will now be blown way out of proportion because of commentators and bloggers who feast on the flesh of others.  Don't believe me?  Listen to Finebaum for 10 minutes today.  I guarantee you it will be a festival of idiots decrying Petrino's actions from a moral standpoint, yet most of the callers have likely done far worse.  Fact is, morality isn't the issue here.  If you want to keep the issue to he hired his mistress to a position in the department and how that's against rules, then there's no problem.   But we all know that people's opinions will go way past that into the personal side of things, which isn't right or fair.

 

Also, I am not an Arkansas fan.  Just someone who actually passed reading comprehension in school.

kaput
kaput

 @John at MrSEC It's not a witch hunt when the story is true.  If you don't like what people are writing, don't read the articles. 

Walter G
Walter G

 @John at MrSEC John, a which hunt is when people make up untrue accusations to bring somebody down.  Nobody is making any of this up.  This is all TRUE.  And because of being lied to in the past, some folks are understandably not sympathetic to Coach Petrino.

beoti
beoti

 @tradeassocation 

It's kind of sad when Arkansas best coach in a generation can't even win his own division.  

GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

@tradeassocation Wow, is there a special prize for missing the point AND changing the subject in the same post? That's quite the twofer.

Scott
Scott

 @tradeassocation 

LOL.  That's an awful long post to base on an incorrect assumption.  I am a Braves fan (not sure what the hell that has to do with anything).  UGA?  Nope.  Chattanooga is Braves town, and there are plenty of Falcons fans there, too, from before the Titans moved in.  As for my alma mater, I'm a Vol.  I thought my second paragraph would've made that evident, but I guess not.  

 

As for "blaming" Petrino- blame him for what?  You might notice that the Falcons are a perennial playoff team since he left.  They're much better off without him.  If anything, I "blame" him for being an ass.  And I'm not alone in that stance.

hoginknoxville
hoginknoxville

@John at MrSEC John Kaput and Walter G fall into the ole "Can't fix stupid" catagory. Thanks 'em for playing and forget about it. Nothing else can be done.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

kaput...

 

Uh, isn't your comment doing exactly what I did in voicing my opinion?

 

John

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