People are an odd bunch. Most all folks say they believe in forgiveness (especially when they’re the ones in need of it). But when someone else is guilty of a major failing, we need to see them grovel a bit before we can let them back into our good graces.
I’m reminded of ESPN’s Dick Vitale stating that Bruce Pearl should be axed from his job at Tennessee only to then immediately state that he hoped someone would give Pearl a second chance once he was indeed fired. Pearl couldn’t have just been punished at Tennessee, he had to be fired… then someone could bring him back. (Ironically, it was Vitale’s own network that’s bringing him back this season.)
For years Pete Rose was told that he would have to admit to betting on baseball before he would be considered Hall of Fame worthy. Finally, Rose came clean. But the reaction from most — including Major League Baseball — was that he wasn’t quite remorseful enough. So Rose is still locked out of the Hall at Cooperstown.
Ex-Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino isn’t going to go the Rose route. Today, ESPN’s Joe Schad scored the big sit-down interview with the axed Razorback coach. Petrino becomes emotional a couple of times during the interview as he talks about how he hurt his wife and his children. It’s the kind of “crawl on your belly and weep for us” entertainment that we as a society love.
Some will look at Petrino and claim he’s faking it or that he’s not shedding enough tears. I’m not that cynical. I suspect the man is truly hurting and truly remorseful. How could he not be?
But the reason to sit down with ESPN and open up about the incident is very much calculated. This is the first step on the road back to coaching for Petrino. He knows it, ESPN knows it, and you and I know it. Petrino even tells Schad that this experience will make him a better coach in the end.
Now, should someone give Petrino a second chance? At life, sure. That’s between his wife and his kids. We are all flawed and we all fail miserably at times. He shouldn’t have to wear a scarlet letter on his chest for the rest of his life.
But in terms of hiring him as a football coach? Well, considering how he almost backstabbed former boss Tommy Tuberville, how he did backstab Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, and how he did backstab Arkansas AD Jeff Long — I believe I’d think long and hard about handing my football program’s keys to Petrino if I were an athletic director.
Whether he’s hired again or not — and here’s betting he will be — it’s still a shame in this writer’s view that he has to publicly hit the ground and grovel just to get that process started.