Bobby Petrino‘s ouster at the University of Arkansas is by now, just hours after it was announced, no longer surprising. More facts, more rumors and more speculation will suffocate a rabid college football conference in April but there’s no reason to discuss wins or department revenue. Petrino aided in hiring a woman, with whom he shared an inappropriate relationship, as his direct subordinate. He lied about the issue to his direct superior, athletic director Jeff Long. 159 applicants expressed interest in the position that eventually went to Jessica Dorrell. Three people interviewed. Bobby Petrino’s engaged mistress got the job. There was, outside of some extraneous conspiracy which will undoubtedly be concocted on Razorbacks message boards over time, no way to keep him as head football coach.
The following is an excerpt from the University of Arkansas Staff Handbook:
Consensual relationships may lead other faculty and students or supervisors and coworkers to question the validity of grades, evaluations, and other interactions between the people involved in such a relationship. The integrity of the work of both people in the relationship may be compromised.
Sexual harassment exists in consensual relationships and coupled with Jeff Long’s comments, “I’m disappointed in his failure to tell me the truth about it. Coach Petrino had a number of opportunities to share with me the nature of his relationship,” firing him with cause shouldn’t be an issue.
Oh, there’s lawsuits headed for Fayetteville courtrooms but Petrino’s, if he ever files, never make a trial, never earn a settlement. The locust who left the Atlanta Falcons in the dead of night, 13 games into his first NFL season, won’t recoup the $30 million-plus he threw away for an affair with a 25 year-old. The mantis who interviewed with Auburn on a tarmac, who flirted with the Oakland Raiders, who campaigned for the LSU, Florida and probably through backchannels, innumerable other jobs while in Louisville need not worry about an ugly trial. Petrino doesn’t own the set to make it out of the discovery phase.
There are people to feel bad for in all of this. Bobby Petrino’s family, his wife especially, and the embarrassment. Josh Morgan, Jessica Dorrell’s fiance and his dignity. Tyler Wilson, senior quarterback who could’ve been a top-five pick in the NFL Draft and his decision. Kniles Davis, who courageously battled back from a savage leg injury and his motivation. The 2012 Arkansas Razorbacks football team, a top ten outfit with a dark horse chance at the national title and their explosive, now perhaps inevitable, demise. Hell, the state itself and the fan base that supported the Razorbacks tirelessly through twenty years of SEC ups but mostly downs only to see their rising star, the coach who made them relevant in the toughest division in college football, slide off the road and out of the job. Will the slide take the program toward mediocrity?
It’s in the ditch you’d find his motorcycle.
In the ditch with the bugs, you’d find Bobby Petrino.