Bobby Petrino is a grammatical mess. In the [sic]-heavy statement he gave the Arkansas State Police following his motorcycle accident, he wrote, “I could not manuer the turn … and the next thing I know I was lying in a wood pile.” He could’ve stopped that explanation about four words sooner, because it would’ve been closer to the truth if he’d just said “The next thing I knew, I was lying.”
Petrino’s inability to manage the truth has been a recurring theme, even before he showed up in front of an Arkansas-logo backdrop wearing a neck brace and pastrami-shredded cheeks, both courtesy of Highway 16. He conveniently forgot to mention his 25-year-old passenger Jessica Dorrell that day, or for the next several days — one of the many reasons I think he should be given a cardboard box and an hour to clean out his office.
Instead, Petrino has been suspended indefinitely and, as he spends his paid leave obsessively checking his voicemail for messages from Jeff Long, the already exhausted-looking athletic director has a major decision to make. Long has to choose between Petrino’s 34 Ws and his countless L-for-Lies and determine which one is more important to the university.
Petrino seems to be betting on his on-field record, which is probably why he addressed the media wearing a Sugar Bowl hat and an Arkansas hoodie, as if to say “Before you hear this, look at me. LOOKIT WHAT I DONE.”
Yes, Petrino took the team to a BCS game (a 31-26 loss to Ohio State). Yes, last year’s Hogs had their first 11-win season since the decade before Dorrell was born. And yes, they’ll enter September with a top-five preseason ranking. But he also provided another example why he’s the worst possible choice to coach a team sport. There doesn’t need to be an ‘I” in team, because he’s only concerned with the ‘I’ in Petrino. His history is several volumes of selfishness, of examples when he ditched his obligations for better, more Bobby-centric opportunities. He did it at Louisville, he did it to the Atlanta Falcons and, last Sunday, he did it to both Arkansas and his own family.
(In the 80-word sendoff he taped in the Atlanta locker room in 2007, he wrote that he’d made the decision to go to Arkansas in “the best interests of me and my family.” That’s both an innocent grammatical error and the right order for his priorities.)
We don’t know any details of the “previous inappropriate relationship” between Petrino and Dorrell, only that he’d hired her on March 28 and that they seem to share an affinity for mock turtlenecks. Petrino was quoted in the press release announcing Dorrell’s promotion, noting that she would be a “great addition” and that her “professional approach should translate well … as we continue to place an emphasis on this area.” (And as he said “this area,” I assume he was moving his hand in a circle in front of his crotch.)
Regardless of how vaguely their relationship is defined, it doesn’t break any laws or violate any NCAA regulations, although CollegeFootballTalk noted that he might be on the wrong side of the school’s sexual harassment policy. But he did lie to his bosses and, by extension, made the school share that lie on university letterhead. That matters … or at least it should.
Petrino’s road-rashed fate shouldn’t be an athletic department issue; it should be up to the university, which needs to decide whether it wants to keep its coach of four seasons or its motto of 140 years. If Petrino stays on the payroll, they should scribble the words “Veritate Duce Progredi” — To Advance with Truth as Our Leader — off the school seal, swapping it for “Screw It, We Have the Pursuit of Nick Saban and BCS Games and Officially Licensed Sportswear as Our Leader.”
Sadly, that's most likely what will happen (save for the seal Sharpie-ing). I'd guess that Petrino’s Ws will win him a half-assed suspension and a press conference apology, that he’ll asked to sit out the season opener but will be back on the sidelines when Saban and company visit in mid-September. Dorrell will be asked to sign a lot of papers promising that she won’t file any type of lawsuit when she’s quietly transferred to a job in a state that doesn’t even rub against any of Arkansas’ 75 counties. And Long will look into a Lunesta prescription.
“Since Coach Petrino’s accident, our main focus has been our football team,” acting head coach Taver Johnson said at a press conference. “Our main focus has been the football team.”
That probably won’t change any time soon. But at least they have one coach who tells the truth.
CFT: Johnny Manziel nearly transferred out of Texas A&M before the 2012 season after being suspended, according to reports, but he stayed after his successful appeal.
About 325 former Penn State players, among them Kerry Collins and Paul Posluszny, have signed a statement supporting the lawsuit filed by the family of former coach Joe Paterno.
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