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Writer: Dollars Could Save Petrino

Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com isn’t my favorite writer.  I believe he is brash and abrasive for the sake of being brash and abrasive… because that kind of thing is what stands out, grabs pageviews and equals dollars into today’s media world.

Ironically, Doyel writes today that it could be dollars that save Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino.  There’s nothing new in what Doyel opines and — to be honest — it’s a little surprising that he didn’t immediately wonder if Petrino’s value to Arkansas might save his hyde.  Most everyone else did.

That said, here’s part of his take on why the Razorback administration might be dragging its feet on giving Petrino the boot:


“Maybe Petrino won’t remain in his job for long, once Arkansas concludes its review of his motorcycle crash/cover-up, but I’m not hopeful.  Which is to say, I’m not naive and gullible.  Not anymore.  Not as naive and gullible as I was a few days ago, anyway, when the news first broke of Jessica Dorrell’s position under Petrino (ahem) and I fired off a scathing missive that said of course Petrino would be fired.  Because I was under the illusion on Friday that real-world rules applied to the Candyland that is college football.

Don’t I feel dumb.

Over the weekened I did some research, read everything I could read about the marriage in question, and realized Arkansas probably can’t afford to divorce Bobby Petrino.  He is the biggest provider for the Arkansas athletic department, and not because he’s the football coach — but because he’s the best football coach in Arkansas history.  Since Petrino got the Hogs rolling in 2009, accoridng to Forbes magazine, the value of the Arkansas football program has increased more than any football program in the country (59 percent), all the way to $89 million.  That value will skyrocket ever higher once the school completes construction on its 80,000-square-foot football facility, a facility that will cost at least $35 million, a facility helped along by Petrino’s run of success.

A facility that has not been paid for, as yet.

The school has commitments for much of the money, but a commitment is not cash.  And those commitments were made by donors under the impression that Bobby Petrino would be the coach working in that new facility.”


Whether it’s a crime or a college athletic department, always follow the money, folks.  If Petrino were losing games in front of a partially-filled stadium he would already be gone.  That statement should shock no one.  And it works the other way, too.

How many times have we written on this site that the fans — not the ADs and presidents — hold the futures of their favorite schools’ coaches in their hands?  If attendance drops and donations dry up, forget the positive track record, the A+ NCAA compliance, and the positive influence stuff.  None of that matters.  If a coach isn’t putting rumps in seats he’s a goner.

See: Rick Stansbury this season.  He is the winningest coach in Mississippi State history.  But disappointed Bulldog fans stopped coming to games and he “retired” after the season.

Go back to 2008 and the end of Phillip Fulmer’s reign at Tennessee.  He’d won a national title and two SEC crowns in 16 seasons at his alma mater, but when Alabama fans took over Neyland Stadium in 2008, we wrote that the clock was ticking down on his tenure.  Turns out, Fulmer lasted one more game before being forced to announce his resignation.

It’s all about the money.  If a school’s making it, then a coach is hard to touch (Petrino).  If a school’s revenue stream starts to decline, any coach can be given his walking papers.

If Petrino is ousted, it will because there’s so much dirt behind the scenes and on the horizon that the school can’t possibly find a way to save him.  Because they most definitely want to save him.  Doyel’s right on that one.  Petrino’s too valuable not to save.

 


11 comments
Fayettechill14
Fayettechill14

While what Doyel is saying is true, I'm not sure is as bad as people make it out to be and I know for certain that it's not just in the "Candyland that is college football." If you're good at what you do you can survive things like this. That's why very few major CEOs are forced to resign after such scandals. That's why in Hollywood; well, if you're in Hollywood and DON'T have a sex scandal people wonder what's wrong with you.

 

Why hold football coaches to a morality that is held in the church elders' office and nowhere else in America? Believe me, I don't like it, I prefer the days of coaches like Frank Broyles and Bear Bryant and Darrell Royal who were mentors as much as football coaches. But that's not how it is anymore, and now I see people riot over Petrino while allowing the times to keep on a'changing. I don't think there's anything hypocritical whatsoever about saying we would fire him if he went 7-6 but not since he went 11-2. If you're bad at your job AND you bring unwanted negative attention to the program you should be terminated, but if you're good at your job and bring unwanted attention it should be debated a little longer. Petrino is obviously a scumbag, but he's our scumbag, and I hope and expect that he will remain coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Tidefalconfan
Tidefalconfan

Jeff Long is in an impossible position. It seems that most Arkansas fans assume that Petrino is going to win a BCS championship in the next year or two. If Long fires Petrino, they will feel that Long has robbed them of their championship. If he keeps Petrino and Petrino doesn't do as well as the fans expect over the next couple of seasons, they may end up blaming Long. It seems like the classic "can't win" situation. By the way, I try to give sports bloggers a pass on grammar and spelling but "save his hyde"???

Brazos
Brazos

Doyel is correct on both his recent columns.  Arkansas is busy meeting with all their attorneys to guestimate what the cost will be to all the people that will sue and Arkansas will have to settle with.  Dorrell's name may be mud but she is going to walk away with an easy $2 million, if not more.  Then there will be numerous suits from some of the other applicants that didn't get the job that Dorrell did that were better qualified for the position (no pun intended).  Between the legal fees and the total settlement fees, they could be looking at a $7 million hit plus the intangible costs of the sullying the school's image (something that some minority of the booster's will be disgusted by).  

 

Arkansas will also expect Petrino to bear some (if not all) of the cost that they are subjected to.  His willingness to express contrition and pay the price of the penalty will also determine how Arkansas proceeds.  No doubt that it will be difficult to fire Petrinio and he has brought them greater success on the football field and in booster donations in decades and that makes him almost impossible to fire.  But Petrino has to be willing to bear a good portion of the embarrassment publicly because the school is going to take a hit image-wise for retaining him.  It screams winning in football is more important than integrity - something an institution of higher learning is supposed to be above.  

 

But, at the end of the day, $7 million is probably easily worth the the continuation of winning on the field.  

Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump

You can mark it down here, and I will admit mistake by the end of the football season, but everybody is going on the impression that Petrino will go at least 10 - 2 like he did last season. I am not drinking that Hog Koolaid at this point. At least 4 tough road games, and LSU + Alabama means maybe 8-4 and not 10-2. My question today, is if this happens, will the Hog donors and fans be so faithful then? The only thing keeping him from being fired is another 10+ win season, and come December what happens when this does not come to pass? I am still not sold on the future of the Hogs defense, and pride sometimes comes before a fall.

 

For all those saying he must stay, at what point will you send him out on a rail?

 

a) 10 + wins

b) 8 + wins

c) 6 - 6 season and a crummy bowl

d) I do not think the Hogs will have a losing season, so this is not really an option

MJWilliamson
MJWilliamson

Folks, the President of the United States lied about having an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate and got away with it. Why should a football coach be held to a higher standard?

 

Fayettechill14
Fayettechill14

I think if Ms. Dorrell works with the university and waives her right to sue--very much a possibility if she wants to keep a job at the university--then Petrino is safe. She could be moved to another department and continue with her promised $55,000 salary. The good news is that the legal team is working with a bunch of Hog fans that love Petrino and will likely not attempt to get him fired.

Fayettechill14
Fayettechill14

8-4?? How many consecutive years will our critics predict that?? They said that in 2010 and 2011, so I guess you're going until you get strike three.

MizSec1911
MizSec1911

@MJWilliamson It's much harder to fire a president.

Brazos
Brazos

 @Fayettechill14 Why would she waive that right?  You really think Mrs. Petrino  (if she hasn't already decided to retain a divorce attorney), would stand for the public humilation of letting her husband go to work in the building (or the same campus for that matter) as Dorrell?  The typical M.O. for these wives of scoundrels (professional athletes/celebs/misc high net worth types) that is, So long as you provide me a posh standard of living, then you do your thing and I'll do mine so long you don't humiliate me - humiliate me and I'll take you to the cleaners (see Kobe Bryant).   Bottom line is the UA has to find a number that Dorrell will leave the university AND agree to a confidentiality agreement.  Her name is forever tarnished, why would she forgo her right to walk away with $2 million+?  Then there is the matter of an angry/hurt/vengeful Josh Morgan.  How do you think that dynamic will be for him to work in the athletic department with Petrino?  He has a huge payday coming too.  

 

Then all the other lawsuits UA will face.  First, the matter of her employment – I am certain UA has hiring policies. How long was the job posted? How many applications were received? Why were her job qualifications and experience superior to others? Just wait for the suit from the folks not selected. Second – hostile workplace environment. Custom made for the first pissed FB office staffer to allege that sexual favors lead to career advancement. Third – impossible in the future to ever terminate a UA Athletic Department employee, at any level. Wrongful termination suit filed, subpoenas the records, including Jess’ hiring and potentially how state policy was violated… Lawyer full employment act in perpetuity. (acknowledgement to nvrfrgt63).

 

Bottom line is this will cost UA plenty.  Firing Petrino eliminates 99% of that legal exposure.  Or as many have said, d@mned if you do, d@mned if you don't.  

 

Also, you acknowledge Petrino is a scumbag but he's your scumbag.  That has been the case up till now and UA could feign ignorance of that fact.  But now he has done it to you and it is unavoidable.  Take the high road, fire him and the football team and donations suffer or UA is the beaten wife that won't leave her husband (no disrespect to beaten women intended).  Impossible situation.

Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump

 @Fayettechill14 I am not trying to be critical, just saying that last year had a more favorable schedule, and a few games went the Hogs way. At least 3 games last year could have been a loss as easily as they were wins, this year it may go the other way with the road schedule. Optimism is fine but I am generally a realist, and can acknowledge did downside along with the upside.

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