The ride and fall of Bobby Petrino

It turns out I underestimated Bobby Petrino.  Or, I should say more accurately, Bobby Petrino’s ego.  Though I’m not the only one.  Of all the things Jeff Long had to say at last night’s emotionally charged presser, this was the most revealing:

“He made the decision, a conscious decision, to mislead the public on Tuesday, and in doing so negatively and adversely affected the reputation of the University of Arkansas and our football program,” Long said, choking up at one point as he discussed telling players that their coach was gone. “In short, coach Petrino engaged in a pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior designed to deceive me and members of the athletic staff, both before and after the motorcycle accident.”

In other words, Petrino believed he was untouchable.  And he maintained that belief as sordid detail after sordid detail emerged during Long’s investigation.  No doubt what really got to Long – and it was a clearly angry Long we heard at the beginning of the night – was that he gave his head coach repeated opportunities to explain himself to create an exit strategy only to have Petrino reject them out of hand.

… Coach Petrino “had a lot of opportunities to share with me the nature of his relationship, and I’ll leave it at that,” Long said.

Long said only two other candidates were interviewed for the football program’s student-athlete development coordinator job that Dorrell was awarded.

Long said Petrino had engaged in a “pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior to deceive me” and that the coach had “multiple opportunities over a four-day period to be forthcoming, and he chose not to.”

I suspect Long, despite his protestations to the contrary, went into his investigation with the hope that he could salvage Petrino’s career at Arkansas.  Petrino’s unwillingness even to feign contriteness left Long with no room to manuever.  It’s one thing to spin a decision to keep a winning coach who stepped out on his wife; it’s another to stand before the press and mouth the equivalent of “nothing to see here, move on” after you know the guy paid his mistress $20,000 and short-circuited the process to hire her on the school’s dime.  Petrino clearly felt he was unaccountable to Long.  A decision to retain Petrino would have cemented him in Edwin Edwards territory.  That was a bridge too far for Long to cross.

That being said, it’s hard to feel too sorry for Long.  Though he tried to deny it last night in response to a question, he knew what kind of man he was hiring when he offered Petrino the position in the first place.  The irony here is that the pressure to succeed Petrino would have been under had he survived the mess fully transfers to Long.  He’ll get one crack at hiring a permanent replacement and if the program slides back into mediocrity, it’s likely he’ll be shown the door along with his coach.

As for Petrino, I’m reluctant to say that a man who can issue a statement like this (“Given the decision that has been made, this is not the place to debate Jeff’s view of what happened”) has learned any real lessons from his dismissal.  And, really, why should he?  Jeff Long was just another on a long list of enablers.  The only difference is that Petrino pushed his luck a little too far this time.

Expect him to sit for an interview in the next few months to express the phony remorse that might have saved his ass this week so that he can rehabilitate his reputation enough for some desperate athletic director to take a chance on a top-flight offensive mind at a bargain basement price.  (Petrino’s agent’s biggest regret this morning has to be that Mike Hamilton is out of the profession.)

Five years from now, it’s even money that the Arkansas fan base has bigger regrets over Long’s decision than Petrino will.  Just ask this dude.

“Obviously, he was stupid, but I’m more concerned about winning,” said Mark Thompsen , a 33-year-old former Army sergeant who served in Iraq and is pursuing a criminal justice major at Arkansas. “All I care about is beating Alabama and LSU. If we beat them I’m okay with it, short of him stringing someone up.”

56 Comments

Filed under Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal

56 responses to “The ride and fall of Bobby Petrino

  1. Russ

    Kudos to Long for making the tough, but right decision. I feel sorry for Petrno’s family.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Arkansas Chancellor Gearhart made the decision–Long was just the mouthpiece. Long may agree with the decision and may have even recommended that decision but you can bet your sweet ass it was made by Gearhart–personally.

  2. TennesseeDawg

    More proof that Petrino was nothing more than an out and out douchebag all along. Now he has plenty of time to ride his motorcycle with his expensive call girl. Guys like him will never learn that’s it’s not all about themselves all the time.

  3. sniffer

    The image of Petrino standing before a microphone, wearing a neck brace and beat all to hell will be with me for a long time. I thought at the time of that press conference, “Why the hell is he on tv looking like that. He must be desperate for attention”. I guess desperate is an understatement. He knew what was coming and still thought he would “win the day”. I wonder if its fun in Bobbys World…

  4. Uglydawg

    Congratulations, Senator, on a fine piece of journalism. From the clever title (“The ride and fall of Bobby Petrino) to the end of the piece, the thought and quality are superb. You missed your calling. You could still become the next Grizzard. Write a book…I’ll buy it!

  5. Slaw Dawg

    Senator, after having read in some other places that AD Long has demonstrated courage and character, it is indeed refreshing to read “That being said, it’s hard to feel too sorry for Long.” Although I might take it a step further to “That being said, Long, the University of Arkansas administration and the Razorback fanbase got what they had coming.” (Just like our friends up in Knoxville.) The precise circumstances may not have been foreseeable, but something like it should have been expected.

    And at least one person knew that–the practical one who inserted that “for cause” morals termination clause in Petrino’s contract. He or she apparently knew a Big Truth: tiger stripes don’t disappear just ’cause you say “you need to get rid of those stripes.”

  6. Go Dawgs!

    Bobby Petrino will be coaching the University of Tennessee Volunteers in their 2013 season opener.

    Write it down.

    • Uglydawg

      I hope not. As much as they deserve each other, Tennessee should have more class than to hire BP. BP will be a recruiting nightmare because he has very short stays at every stop. I hope and think he’s finished. Besides, SOD may actually suprise everyone this year. He has a lot of players returning. While I’m not saying he’s a great coach, I can’t deny he’s another Ray Goff when it comes to getting a break. If his luck turns, he may win enough games this year to tough it out.

      • RandallPinkFloyd

        There is no way he ends up at UT. After the lack of character shown by Kiffin and Pearl and Dooley just making stuff up as he goes along, they’re not gonna hire a guy like Petrino. They’re gonna go after Smart after Dooley’s mom picks him up off the dayum hot seat.

        • Nate Dawg

          How funny we all go straight to tenn for his next employment opportunity. I text my dad the same thing last night. First thing that popped in my head. So, maybe even subconciously, Dooley is on the hottest of seats. Also note the irony, a bunch of Dawgs talking about how a Dooley has gotta be headed out the door.

  7. Bob

    Nick Cellini said same thing Go Dawgs. Who knows?

    Rumor…RUMOR only. Dorrell’s finacee` found out about the affair and followed them last Sunday afternoon. He forced them to stop and then proceeded to beat the hell out of Petrino and smash the bike. It does seem odd that the young lady has no marks on her at all and Bobby looks like a survivor of Stalingrad. Again, RUMOR only. ;-)

  8. sUGArdaddy

    The thing that got me was that Petrino pulled the Sugar Bowl hat out of the closet for the press conference as if to remind the razorback nation, “hey, don’t you like going to N’awlins?”

    When’s the last time you saw a coach with 2 year old bowl gear on? That was a strategic choice of headwear.

  9. What fresh hell is this?

    (Petrino’s agent’s biggest regret this morning has to be that Mike Hamilton is out of the profession.)

    Now that’s good comedy.

    What happens to Dorrell and her “position”?

  10. Hogbody Spradlin

    Has a skin mag made an offer to Jessica Dorrell?

  11. AthensHomerDawg

    “I repeat. That woman was NOT on my motorcycle!!!! “

  12. according to hoyle miracle

    Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. Not pertinent to this story. Jus’ sayin’

  13. burt

    During this whole ordeal I was hoping headlines would always refer to Petrino as “former Auburn OC…”. I’m sure many Bama and UGA fans would approve.

  14. BulldogBen

    Well, I can’t believe it. I would’ve bet money that he would kept his job in this cynical world of money and wins.

    Arkansas fans don’t want to hear it right now but the AD acted with integrity and, at least in my eyes, earned a lot of respect.

    • Cojones

      And you sir are not eating your words like some are on here who thought the same way, but are on the other side of the fence today. It isn’t just Arky fans who received a comeuppance in social values, some on here are in the same boat as Petrino in that they won’t repudiate wrong thinking and choose to add to it.

  15. Always Someone Else's Fault

    Not a forensic expert, but BP looked scraped more than he looked bruised. I’ve seen what some beat-down boxers look like – it’s more black and blue than red. Unless the fiance was beating him with a Brillo pad, I don’t think that rumor holds much water.

  16. HK

    I’d be surprised if he does worse than an NFL offensive coordinator position. I also won’t be surprised at all if he gets a head coaching job there.

    He has done an awesome job doing more with less at Arkansas, not to mention his outstanding play calling and in game adjustments.

    It doesn’t seem that moral shortcomings matter very much at all in the NFL.

    • HK

      And while he may be leaving Arkansas in an equally shameful fashion as the last few jobs, this one wasn’t directly his choice. Result of decisions he shouldn’t have made? Sure, but last year wasn’t the first successful year he’s had at Arkansas. He proved his worth and could have left for greener pastures a couple of years ago and didn’t.

      I don’t think another team, especially in the NFL, is going to look at his abrupt departures from the past as being as important as they would have a couple of years ago.

  17. 69Dawg

    Long was caught between the fans and the University Board. As Dan Patrick pointed out this was a University human resource nightmare. He violated UA policy not AD policy. I see the Chancellor telling Long he has two choices you fire him to save the school’s rep or I fire you and him together. It happens in business all the time. The Board doesn’t want to micro-manage but they can cause it to happen by threatening to fire the head guy. If he had just kept messing around with her and not gotten her the job he would have still been employed.

    • Cojones

      After being lied to and put in a awkward place by Petrino, where does the thinking occur that long doesn’t approve nor relish giving Petrino the heave-ho. These are alums; Petrino is an outsider.

      The hypocrisy shown by those who wished to let him stay has confirming photos you can paste up to remind you of what idiots look like while holding their signs. I just consigned them to the Tea Party Sports Dept.

      I’m sorta thankful that this could occur now in order that some few UGA fans can get a grip on moral compasses of public institutions even if they can’t find their own with both hands and a search warrant.

  18. Mayor of Dawgtown

    I never thought Petrino would get the ax and said so on this blog repeatedly. I was wrong. Damn this crow tastes good, though.

    • paul

      I was right there with you. I just KNEW they were going to figure out some way to keep him. I said so often. And it sounds like they really tried. Bobby was just too dang big a stupid, proud, egomaniac to give them the opportunity. Gotta feel for his wife and kids. Imagine having this guy as a husband or father. Lots of dollars going to be spent on counseling. The crow does taste good though.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        I saw a special about Petrino on TV a year or so ago where he was playing golf with his teenage daughter and I thought he acted like a dick, the way he talked to her condescendingly, etc. What was so interesting was that he appeared to not realize that he was acting like a dick. On camera for Pete’s sake!

    • Cojones

      You both join Bulldog Ben as being contrite without excuses. I would rather read your honest and heartfelt words than some on here who act as if they blogged nothing in the last few days.

      While I posted that he would be gone between Spring Game and Fall practice, the rapidity of this move came as a small surprise. It seems we didn’t know how far payoffs and other undivulged activity in the name of the University of Arkansas would go or has gone.

      • Uglydawg

        I never really said or even had a clue. I did however say that the Porcine Nation would keep him if they could vote on it.
        It’s just good to see decency prevail.

        • Cojones

          Not sure that decency prevailed, but I bet my dime on the conservative alums. They aren’t connected to the idiots with signs. Lou Holtz was fired for less and he gave them a NC and lotsa “W”s. They are more proud of their institution than to let it be drug in the mud as the butt of a joke. UGA did the same thing with Evans, even though he ran our bank account through the roof.

          By the way, saw a listing of University contributions yesterday and it showed that Petrino had upped the giving by 300% from the year before. So money and what Petrino had contributed by pulling in money, didn’t rule the day. Conversely, UGA was up to 3.4 M, a sizeable drop. Personally, I’d like those who don’t like the staff personnel to consider, by not giving, you hurt Georgia, not the staff. Turn the water back on, Dawgs. Now is when we need it.

          Enjoy G-Day!

  19. Alphadawg

    Accountability is a Bitch!

  20. Aligator

    Gus Mahlzan Bitches!

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Nah. They’ll promote their current OC to acting HC and he might even get to keep the job if he has a good season. If no good season, expect a full blown attempt to hire away a proven winner, maybe from another SEC school.

  21. Cojones

    Being truthful, Senator, I thought you might take this opportunity to excoriate a few like-minded UGA fans rather than throw Jeff Long under the bus with Petrino.

    The point here is that the “W at any cost” crowd should hear how thankful we are that Richt and Staff stand tall in these situations even when it lands at our doorstep. Our “red panties’ decision had to be at the top of Arkansas’s thought process. If we could send an AD outta here for the same moral clause, when would Ark ever have a chance to stand on solid moral University ground again if they didn’t get rid of their FB Coach? Never. It would have gotten mushier and more rotten if they tried to placate CFB fans standing in a swamp of hypocrisy.

    It has only cemented tighter feelings toward our Coach and Staff as we head into another Spring Game. It might be an opportunity for UGA fans attending the game to demonstrate loyalty (with signs) letting them know how we appreciate a stable staff environment and their efforts to pull as one.

    • I doubt Evans’ actions had much impact on Arky’s decision, if at all. It’s a lot easier to replace an athletic director than it is to replace an SEC football coach who’s won 21 games in the past two seasons.

      Petrino just didn’t give them any space to salvage his job.

      • Cojones

        We differ. The morals clause got both of them. Ease of replacement had nothing to do with it. Cynicism can’t dodge a moral turpitude clause in any contract. I thought it would have been a good opportunity to point that out to our cynical UGA fans.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          Actually, I think both of you are right. Also, they had to make a decision. If they did not fire him over this then when/if they did decide to let him go in the future they would have to have paid the $$$ in severance. So it was a combo of things including some being economic, IMHO.

  22. the $20,000 referred to in the post ;was that her Uof A salary or was that directly from Petrino? If that is directly from the former Coach’s account it is clear that the price of poontang is higher in Ark than in GA …or Glenville. I also suggest this article be filed under,”It’s just Bidness”

  23. Bulldog Joe

    Compared to Nutt and Petrino, Kristi Malzahn would be tame by comparison.

    Hop on the bus, Gus.

    • Cojones

      Maybe she will come back on to be interv iewed by the mininter and she could tell us what she would do if Petrino were her husband. You can just hear her words now, flowing out to an enraptured audience.

  24. Committee for Redundancy Committee

    Well said, Bulldog Joe.

  25. shane#1

    I don’t see the AD had any choice. The university needed some degree of separation in the event of sexual harassment or illegal hiring practices law suits.

    • Cojones

      Cynical thought on here was saying exactly what’s true in our society and worship of CFB. They expected those contract nixers to be overcome by the fan’s worship of the “W”. Petrino, in his Tressel-like arrogance , kept adding to the total. What an idiot on the personal front. Of course some think that of me and possibly others for the content of posts here.

      God, I hope Blutarsky doesn’t blow through that hole I left him.