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“The Hire” And “The Lie” Could Bring Down Petrino

Bobby Petrino is a national news story today because he’s embroiled in what looks to be a sex scandal.  And this country goes bat guano daffy for a juicy, dirty, gossipy sex scandal.

In this case, the 51-year-old coach had a 25-year-old female on his motorcycle when he crashed it last weekend.  Yesterday — with a polic report about to be made public — he admitted the the relationship was “inappropriate.”  He said via statement that he hoped to heal his relationships with is family.  I think we can assume what all that means.

There are already calls for Petrino’s head.  As we told you earlier today, Dennis Dodd of believes the coach should be booted in part because he won’t be able to recruit anymore.  The thought being that players’ mamas are gonna have a hard time believing anything the man says.  (As if he didn’t have a bad enough reputation for leaving the Atlanta Falcons midseason and for trying to snake the job of former employer Tommy Tuberville back in the early 2000s.)

But recruiting won’t be Petrino’s undoing.  Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino went through his own high-profile sex scandal back in 2009.  In the two signing classes that have followed his public flogging, Pitino’s signed one 5-star and four 4-star prospects.  He’s also led his team to the Final Four this year and recruiting will likely spike higher from there.

Pitino weathered the recruiting storm and the nasty looks from players’ families.  At some point, meeting with the man one on one, it seems a few people found themselves able to actually forgive the man his sins.  Imagine the thought.

Petrino won’t be let go at Arkansas because of recruiting concerns.  His Razorbacks never finish among the tip-top of the SEC in star rankings anyway.  His offensive system is so good he doesn’t need the bluest of blue chip signees to win games.  He’s proven that from his own stop at Louisville to Fayetteville.

No, if Petrino gets axed it will be for one of two other reasons, maybe both.

First, he lied.  He covered up.  He told the press he was alone on his bike at the time of the accident and more importantly he told his bosses he was alone.

Ask Bruce Pearl about cover-ups being bigger than crimes.  Ask Jim Tressel if lying doesn’t result in stiffer penalties than breaking NCAA rules.  Heck, for that matter, ask Bill Clinton if the cover-up doesn’t bring worse punishment and embarrassment than the breaking of society’s moral rules.  Grab a medium, channel Richard Nixon, and query Tricky Dick about the danger of the cover-up.

Pitino — the coach who survived his scandal — came clean.  He didn’t mislead the men who hired him.

Petrino was trying to protect his family.  That’s understandable.  But it might not carry much weight with AD Jeff Long who had to call a late-night presser last night, belly-up to the microphone, and admit that his program had just taken one right on the kisser.

Long took a beating from the national press when he rolled the dice and stole Petrino away from the Falcons back in 2007.  Petrino rewarded him with many wins which meant millions more in cash for the UA coffers.

And then he rewarded him with a big ol’ mess.

The cover-up could be the thing that causes Long and Arkansas chancellor G. David Gearhart to lose faith in Petrino and oust him.

If not, then Reason Two could most assuredly bring him down.

Petrino just hired the woman with whom he now admits having had an “inappropriate relationship” with.  He hired her March 28th.  As in last Wednesday.

Can the University of Arkansas take action against Jessica Dorrell at this point?  Probably not.  Petrino’s already put them on the hook for a possible sexual harrassment claim.  It takes two to tango, so to speak, but Dorrell — due to her age and Petrino’s position of authority over her — likely won’t face the same fate Petrino receives.  (Though her life is no doubt more miserable today, too.)

Worse still, the highest-paid employee of the State of Arkansas appears to have put his mistress on the payroll of his football program.  Dorrell was already employed by Arkansas’ fund-raising department, but who knows how her salary changed with this latest move?  And is her salary paid by self-sufficient athletic department dollars or does that money come from state funds given to the university?

The sex angle makes this mess a big national story.

Hog fans are defending their coach because he wins.  Many are already blaming the press for making a big deal of the situation.

Meanwhile, rival fans thump their Bibles and rush to gather up stones (apparently paying no attention to that whole New Testament thing).  They’re rejoicing in the downfall of another human being because, well, because that guy beats their favorite football team.

And both groups would be reacting completely differently if Petrino suddenly moved from Arkansas to School X, by the way.

For us at, this isn’t about the sex scandal.  And we don’t think that’s what will matter to Long, Gearhart or the Arkansas administration in the end, either.  The fact that Petrino lied to his bosses and put the school in a legally precarious spot by hiring what appears to be his girlfriend will carry a lot more weight with the people making the final call on his tenure.

If Petrino survives, it will be because he wins games and is literally worth millions of dollars in revenue to the school.  If he doesn’t, it will be because he covered up and/or hired his mistress.

Those are the facts that matter in this case.  The rest is just water-cooler talk.



Don't see how Long can keep Petrino and ask anyone else to conduct themselves to any level of integrity and decorum. Slippery slope holding on to the Bobby just because he has won some games...especially in the face of the PR and substantial financial damage the upcoming suit, potential dismissal of the girlfriend and the ongoing prestige damage a this situation would bring. If he does, heaven forbid his team goes in the tank or has other problems. You hit the nail on the head, though, Long will be held responsible regardless of what happens for bringing him and his baggage to arky and for whoever he tabs to pick up the reins...


Might as well ask the question, if Petrino is gone(and the more I read about the situation the worse it gets) then where does Arkansas turn?  Do they go with the interim coach?  They'll probably have to do that for this season anyway, but are they comfortable with that long term?  Do you roll the dice and try to bring back Garrick McGee because he understands the system and presided over some of the best SEC offenses over the last couple of years?  Is it realistic for Arkansas to land a big time proven head coach?Arkansas was just making its comeback.


 @AllTideUp Only coach Arkansas could get to come now would be Gus Malzahn, and we're not ready for the Gus Bus yet. Most Arkansas fans believe that Malzahn will eventually be our coach, but not he's dominated the Sun Belt with stAte. We would probably go interim and then hire a solid up-and-comer for 2013. Chris Petersen at Boise is the obvious #1, but Charlie Strong at Louisville and Butch Jones at Cincinnati would also be targets.


As a Falcons fan I think it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Fayettechill14 1 Like

Arkansas fans' reactions have been nothing but frustration at Petrino's bad decisions. This is a serious situation. Most Hog fans want him to stay (probably around 80-20 in his favor, per a poll on but EVERYONE can respect Jeff Long's decision if he decides to fire him.


"Many are already blaming the press for making a big deal of the situation."


Huh?  Who? 


This story IS A BIG deal.  He's the highest paid state employee, and he hired his mistress.  He's just opened the state up to a several million dollar lawsuit, and their actions in this case will have lasting impact on the entire UA system. 


It may not be something that you guys necessarily want to cover, but don't minimize it.


Tennessee just found its next football coach.


Will Arkansas suspend Petrino for the first game or just the first quarter? Winning is a strong deodorant.


Firing this guy is no big deal and it is going to happen.  Think of all the guys that took their teams to the Final Four and still got canned for something off the court-Dana Kirk, Jim Harrick, and many others.  Tressel, Woody, and JoPa got canned and they were certainly bigger than this guy. They have no choice-the legal ramifications are endless.  You can expect a sexual harassment suit here from her. Anyway, YOU may be having a bad week, but not as bad as this guy. 


Alabama fans aren't calling for Petrino's head because he beats their favorite football team. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZING



 Not yet, but its coming.   in 2012 no less.  Zing Zing.


  1. [...] Petrino isn’t just in trouble with his wife, he’s in trouble with the University of Arkansas as well. He promoted his mistress, then lied about her involvement with him. He has been placed on a paid leave while the administration investigates (another word for taking time to contemplate firing a really good coach). Former lawyer turned sports blogger Clay Travis breaks down Petrino’s future HERE. Mr. SEC gives his take HERE. [...]

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