Albama Arkansas Auburn Florida Georgia Kentucky LSU Mississippi State Missouri Ole-Miss USC Tennessee Texas A&M Vanderbilt

Support Group Rallies To Back Petrino As A.D. Long Tries To Navigate Major Mess

(If you read an early version of this story, please re-fresh.  A “draft” when up with multiple errors.  Apologies.)

Ya gotta love double-standards.  Trust me, at, we see ‘em everyday.

If Team X’s coach jaywalks, Team Y’s fans want him drawn and quartered.  But if Team Y’s coach takes a family hostage, burns down a church and Roseanne Barr’s the National Anthem — yep, used that as a verb — then their coach deserves a second chance.

And then there’s the double-standard within that double-standard.  Team Y’s fans’ look-the-other-way attitude only exists if Team Y’s coach is winning.  If Team Y’s coach is losing, then they — like the fans of Team X — will yelp for the man’s dismissal.

That very scenario is playing out in Arkansas right now.  Some fans want Bobby Petrino gone because he apparently messed around on his wife.  But another group want him to keep his job ’cause — let’s face it — he’s led the Razorbacks out of the wilderness!  Arkansas is winning football games again.  And even some of those who told ESPN over the weekend that they want Petrino to keep his job, admit they might have a different take if he were losing games:

As we discussed last week, we don’t think the “moral” clause of Petrino’s contract will be his undoing.  There is a line of thinking that goes like this: “If you don’t invoke the moral turpitude clause now, when do you?”  Makes sense, but see the bit about double-standards above.  You invoke it the next time a losing badminton coach urinates in public.  Who cares if people say UA has a double-standard?  Everyone does.

It’s clear at this point that Arkansas wants to keep Petrino if at all possible.  He’s worth millions of dollars in cash and exposure — the good, football kind — for the university.  If they find a way to hang onto him, yes, the school will take a few kicks to the ribs from rival recruiters and the national press, but if Petrino keeps winning — and here’s betting he would — that’ll all go bye-bye.

I watched Louisville reach the Final Four this season and I didn’t hear anyone bring up the school’s 2009 decision to stand by Rick Pitino after his sex scandal.

And Arkansas wouldn’t be the first group to be right out front with its double-standard.  See: Newt Gingrich backers who once went after Bill Clinton.  And see: Democrats who now throw low-blows at Gingrich for doing what Clinton did.  Happens every day.  “My guy can do anything he likes, your guy better mind his Ps and Qs.”

At this point, Arkansas AD Jeff Long is likely dealing with a number of groups as he tries to find his way out of mess he didn’t make.  Those people include:

1.  Jessica Dorrell and her betrothed.  Both work for the University of Arkansas.  She can sue the school and/or Petrino for sexual harassment.  Right now the school is most likely trying to find out what it will cost to keep Dorrell and her fiance quiet.  (Sidenote — The folks who initially found Petrino and Dorrell on the side of the road stated that Petrino was alone.  Now they’ve gone into silent mode.  Do they have more dirt to share about what the coach and Dorrell told them?  Might they want some hush money, too?)

2.  Petrino himself.  More than likely the school’s PR wing is cooking up a statement this instant that the coach can read at a presser should he be retained.  At the same time, Long has to be grilling Petrino to come clean on everything that the coach did wrong in this situation.  He’ll also want to know if there are any other skeletons in Petrino’s closet.

3.  The UA legal team and some additional group of private investigators.  The school needs to be thinking of every possible lawsuit that could come its way and it needs to be ready with a defense for each should it hang on to Petrino.  And remember, from Clinton to Tiger Woods, when dirt is found on a celebrity, more and more people tend to come out of the woodwork with new stories, true or not.  If Arkansas keeps Petrino, the school will want to be sure tales of another “inappropriate relationship” aren’t just around the corner.  Also, if Petrino stays, the school will no doubt penalize the coach with a tougher contract worth less cash.  All this is tied to the schools’ lawyers.  (If Petrino’s wise, he’ll take whatever lifeline the school may throw him… winner or not, it would be hard for another school or NFL team to bring him in anytime soon thanks to his various past actions.)

5.  The police.  The Arkansas State Police are now asking questions about the handling of the initial accident.  Just how inappropriately did the officer from Petrino’s in-season security detail act in order to keep Petrino’s dirty laundry in the hamper, so to speak?  If a police officer loses his job over all this, it’ll be an even more difficult sell to keep Petrino.

6.  UA chancellor G. David Gearhart and the school’s board.  This is a group that’s well aware of the money Petino has brought into the school.  It’s also a group that will want to protect the University of Arkansas’ name from being dragged through the mud.  As a prominent booster of another school told me last week, “Usually the ‘he wins’ crowd holds sway over the ‘he’s damaged our good name’ crowd.”  That said, some/many/all of these people might be so ticked that Petrino lied to them and put them into this mess that they’re ready to part with him regardless of the fallout.

7.  The school’s biggest boosters.  Long and Arkansas are raising money with ease these days.  A new football facility is going up thanks to Petrino’s on-field success.  If the biggest boosters at the school threaten to hold back some of their cash pending the outcome of the Petrino scandal, that’s an additional headache for Long.  And it’s likely that some of the biggest boosters will want the coach to stay while a few others might worry more about UA’s reputation.  Long probably won’t get 100% backing from the Razorbacks’ top boosters regardless of what he decides to do.

At this point, like Long, you should probably be keeping tabs on the police investigation into this matter.  If heads roll and charges are filed on that front, Petrino’s probably finished.

If the police investigation yields no further damage, we at expect the school will do everything possible to keep the coach in the fold, double-standards be damned.

A couple of sidenotes on the situation this morning:

* Robbie Neiswanger of writes that Long is in new territory with this mess.

* “Team Petrino” has formed as a support group for the coach and has launched a Facebook page calling for the school to keep him.  They’re also planning a Monday rally for Petrino.  (See all that stuff about double-standards above.  Gotta wonder how many of these “Team Petrino” folks have ripped, Clinton, Gingrich, Pitino, Woods and others?)

Post Comments » Comments (19)



Follow Us On:
Mobile MrSEC