The fall of Bobby Petrino: a long time coming

As promised, I’m continuing with my posts on the Bobby Petrino scandal. This time, I’ll focus on the man himself.

Since his story has been beaten to death throughout the sports media, I won’t go into any great detail. However, as I see it, it’s yet another example of that cautionary saying: character matters.

Pat Forde published a great piece showing just what kind of a fellow Arkansas hired. Now, without further ado… Bobby Petrino’s Greatest Hits!

2003: Petrino is hired by Louisville from Auburn, where he had been offensive coordinator under Tommy Tuberville. However, Auburn decided Tuberville wasn’t winning enough for them, especially against Alabama, and started quietly looking for a new coach. Very quietly.

Enter Petrino. Auburn officials take a flight to a small airport across the river from Louisville, where Petrino meets them… while both teams’ seasons are still going on. And two days before Auburn’s biggest game of the season, the Iron Bowl against Alabama.

So, we have Petrino going behind the back of Tom Jurich (U of L athletic director) and Tuberville (his former boss). Not to mention Auburn going behind the back of Tuberville. But wait, it gets better. Petrino continues to deny that he had met with Auburn until two reporters for The Courier-Journal (Louisville’s daily paper), one of them Forde, present him with proof of the flight… and Auburn finally owns up to its role in the affair.

2004: You would think Petrino would have learned a lesson from this. But no… he met with Notre Dame officials during the season, at the same airport, about their coaching job. He also met with Florida and Ole Miss during the season.

At the end of the season, he pledged his loyalty to U of L, and signed a contract extension. The ink was barely dry before he went behind Jurich’s back yet again to interview with LSU. He then made a big show of withdrawing from consideration… after it was obvious LSU would hire Les Miles.

2005: Petrino says he has no interest in the NFL, but interviews with the Oakland Raiders. Do we see a pattern here?

2006: Petrino signs a 10-year contract with U of L, and insists on adding a $1 million buyout clause. Five months later, after one of the greatest seasons in the school’s football history, he leaves for the Atlanta Falcons.

2007: Petrino leaves the Falcons with three games left in the season without telling his players. He is announced as the new head coach at Arkansas the next day. Sure, his time in Atlanta was during the Michael Vick dogfighting scandal… but running out on a head coaching job during the season is very bad juju.

The pattern appears to be that of a person who’s out mainly for himself, no matter who he steps on along the way. Given that behavior, it should be no surprise that Petrino admitted to an extramarital affair—or that he was found to be communicating with at least one other woman. Lest we forget, both women are about the age of his oldest children.

I don’t have any personal animosity toward Petrino. I hope he can work out his issues, preferably away from the public eye. But, his fall from grace should be a warning to all of us—and a reminder that, to borrow a phrase from Amir, the Law of Sowing and Reaping shall not be up for repeal any time soon.

2 thoughts on “The fall of Bobby Petrino: a long time coming

  1. Yep. Your character ALWAYS catches up with you. For some people, it takes longer than others. But Petrino now has a mother lode of baggage that he must unpack.

    While he has a fine track record in terms of pure coaching skills, he is severely lacking in the personal relations department. In each of his last three coaching ventures–the University of Louisville, the Atlanta Falcons, and now the University of Arkansas–he has shown serious integrity problems.

    Still, with his track record as a coach, there will be a school out there who will take a chance on him. But his market value has taken a hit.

  2. The sad part is Petrino–when he was at UL–only needed to be up front about what he was doing. Coaches get interviewed for open positions all the time. If Petrino had said, “Of course, I’ll interview with schools, or even the NFL, when positions open up…that’s just good business practice. But I am happy here in Louisville,” it wouldn’t have been so bad.

    At the end of the day, everyone involved knows that it is a business–and this is on both sides.

    A few years ago, my boss was in a rut. We had just lost our webmaster, and she was concerned that others may jump ship. She asked me if I was looking for another job. I told her no–which was true–but that I would be a complete idiot to not consider opportunities that arose.

    I told her, “I like my job, and I really don’t want to move. But think of it this way: if someone offered you a position with more responsibility, and a comparable pay raise to boot, wouldn’t you consider that? Of course you would. That’s how business is done.”

    But Petrino had a tendency to say one thing–and then, BEHIND EVERYONE’S BACKS–do another thing.

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