Bobby Petrino: The Obligatory Opinion Piece


You can’t sign onto the internets today without seeing a story about Bobby Petrino and his misadventure with an attractive 25-year-old female staffer. However, since today is Good Friday, let’s take a step back and look at the issue without the cloud of judgment looming over our heads.

Coach Petrino was placed on paid leave late Thursday after admitting that he had misrepresented the circumstances of his motorcycle accident to the University and state police. The issue here is not whether he had a relationship with “that woman,” as Bill Clinton might refer to her. People make mistakes and no one reading this is eligible to cast the first stone. Some people may disagree (especially wives) but this story is not about an alleged affair, it is about discipline.

Coach Petrino said he initially lied about the employee’s involvement to protect his family from stories about a previous inappropriate relationship. Again, this is his personal business and is something he will have to deal with appropriately with his wife and his four children. This is not the concern of the University of Arkansas.

The decision facing the school is whether he has lost control of his ability to discipline the team. Some of you may wonder if that boat had already sailed — this is Arkansas after all. This story is not even about the woman, Jessica Dorrell, or her status with the school. How can a coach who lied to the school and lied to state police — whether he was in a relationship with the engaged employee or not — tell a player to obey the law and abide by the rules? The school needs to decide if the coach has lost control of the team and make a decision based on that point alone.

If he had told the truth about the girl on the bike with him, we would probably not be hearing much about this right now. The scandal is always in the cover up of the story, just ask John Edwards or Bill Clinton or Cecil Newton.

The University of Arkansas has a big decision to make in the next few days. The Spring has already been sacrificed. Do they reinstate the coach and stumble forward through the fall? Everyone loves a good redemption story and, perhaps, one is forthcoming. However, there could also be a nightmarish slide into discipline issues, bad press, and low morale. The decision makers have to decide what is best for the program and go forward knowing that a large segment of their fan base will be unhappy either way. If they decide to make a change, do they bring in an interim, promote from within, or raid the coaching ranks for a good guy looking for a shot? Mike Shula, anyone?

I don’t like to make predictions but I will be very surprised if Bobby Petrino coaches another game for Arkansas. I could be wrong. In the spirit of the season, I do offer a sincere prayer for him and his family. This is bigger than a few cracked ribs.

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