When Bobby Petrino walked out on the Falcons during the 2007 season to become the head coach at Arkansas, the widespread assessment in NFL circles was that Petrino was a man who could not be trusted. Everything that has happened this week bolsters that assessment.
Arkansas placed Petrino on administrative leave on Thursday night after it became clear that he had lied about the circumstances of a Sunday motorcycle accident.
Specifically, Petrino lied — and had Arkansas employees lie on his behalf — when he said he was alone on his motorcycle. In reality, a 26-year-old former Arkansas volleyball star who was just hired last week as an employee of the football program, Jessica Dorrell, was riding on his motorcycle with him. (Dorrell was not seriously hurt and did not need medical attention. Petrino was hospitalized but has since been released.)
Petrino issued a statement in which he seemed to blame his failure to be forthright on the fact that “I have been in constant pain, medicated,” but he did acknowledge that he was also motivated by not wanting what he described as “a previous inappropriate relationship” to become public.
Petrino’s private life is none of the public’s business. But if he has an “inappropriate relationship” with a football program employee, or if he hires someone with whom he previously had an “inappropriate relationship” to work for the football program, or if he has another Arkansas employee lie on his behalf — as he did early this week when he had a school spokesman release a statement saying he was alone at the time of the accident — that’s a serious problem. Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long was clearly upset when he announced that he placed Petrino on administrative leave Thursday night.
“We have high expectations for our coaches . . . certainly I’m disappointed,” Long said. “I brought him [Petrino] here.”
Long also described himself as “surprised” that Petrino lied. The players Petrino walked out on in Atlanta could have warned Long that Petrino can’t be trusted.