Published November 20, 2014
Bobby Petrino came to Fayetteville with his share of baggage, and it appears he may leave with a whole lot more.
Late last weekend, the 51-year old head coach of the University of Arkansas football team was involved in a motorcycle accident. While he was by all counts forthcoming with the truth to the state police, he left out a detail or two when it came to his explanation to the media and the university's administration.
Though originally it was released that Petrino was alone at the time of the accident, the police report that came out on Thursday listed 25-year old Jessica Dorrell as a passenger. Dorrell, an alum and former volleyball player, was hired just last week for a position within the Arkansas Athletic Department.
Although the details of their relationship are not fully known at this time, you can expect an all-out media frenzy in unfolding the truth.
As a result of the omission and the perceived cloud of impropriety on the part of Petrino, Athletic Director Jeff Long has placed the Razorbacks' coach on paid administrative leave.
Petrino released another statement on Thursday following the detailed police report.
"The state police report provides an accurate description of my accident, which includes details that had not publicly come to light prior to the report being issued. I regret that I have not publicly acknowledged a passenger on the vehicle. I have been in constant pain, medicated and the circumstances involving the wreck have come out in bits and pieces. That said I certainly had a concern about Jessica Dorrell's name being revealed. In my press conference, I referred to her simply as 'a lady'. My concern was to protect my family and a previous inappropriate relationship from becoming public. In hindsight, I showed a serious mistake in judgment when I chose not to be more specific about those details. Today, I've acknowledged this previous inappropriate relationship with my family and those within the athletic department administration."
He continued, "I apologize to my wife, Becky, and our four children, Chancellor (David) Gearhart, Jeff Long, the Board of Trustees, University administration, my coaching staff, student-athletes and the entire state of Arkansas. I have been humbled by the outpouring of concern and get-well wishes. I apologize to the Razorback Nation for the attention my actions have brought to the University of Arkansas and our program. I will fully cooperate with the University throughout this process and my hope is to repair my relationships with my family, my Athletic Director, the Razorback Nation and remain the head coach of the Razorbacks."
Petrino is 34-17 in four seasons at Arkansas. He has done a good job on the field, leading the Razorbacks to their first-ever BCS Bowl game in 2010 and followed that up with an 11-2 ledger last year and a Cotton Bowl win over Kansas State.
However, he did not come to the Natural State with a squeaky clean reputation.
Petrino left a successful stint at the University of Louisville to move up to the NFL ranks in 2007, hired by the Atlanta Falcons. Following a tough 13-game run in his first season in the league, he abandoned his players and the organization to accept the job at Arkansas prior to the end of the NFL season, opening himself up to a great deal of criticism.
While he has made good on reviving a stagnant a program which was pretty stagnant prior to his arrival, that may be all for naught.
Arkansas is circling the wagons and following procedure. As a full review by Long moves forward, expect Petrino's every move and decision since arriving in Fayetteville to be scrutinized. He is not alone in this scandal, although he will be held to a higher standard than that of the 25-year old Dorrell.
There are clauses in Petrino's contract with the school regarding conduct and the leave of absence is probably the first step in cleaning up the mess. Whether he keeps his job when the investigation comes to a conclusion is anyone's guess, but the odds aren't in his favor.
If we have learned anything from the recent scandals in college football, it is that no one comes out unscathed.