Jim Harris: Arkansas Joins Bobby Petrino's List of Shattered Hearts and Hopes

by Jim Harris  on Wednesday, Apr. 11, 2012 1:59 pm  

(Photo by Mark Wagner)

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

Clint Stoerner, the worldly- and football-wise former Arkansas Razorback quarterback and a guy I’ve always thought should be a color analyst on Hog games, summed it all up nicely Wednesday morning while we were between segments of KATV, Channel 7’s “Daybreak.”

His analysis of the Bobby Petrino situation went something like this:

A 21-5 record over two years, a BCS bowl appearance and a Cotton Bowl victory can garner a coach a lot of cachet with the fans and his university. They might look the other way when the coach’s personal life is in question, such as when he enjoys the company of some female other than his wife. They’ll excuse it if he likes alcohol and if that leads to trouble behind the wheel (see Missouri’s Gary Pinkel).

But in no way does a head football coach hire the girl with whom he’s admittedly had an inappropriate relationship. That opens the university up to myriad human resources problems and makes the decision easy for the coach's boss.

Of course, getting Petrino to even admit to a “previous inappropriate relationship” was just part of Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long’s problems over the past week as he reviewed the events surrounding the coach’s motorcycle wreck April 1 and the involvement of his recent female hire to a staff position.

The news that Petrino had given the young woman $20,000 in addition to the staff job, without mentioning that to Long in advance, did the coach in.

So, while a small percentage of Arkansas fans are angry at Long for dismissing a coach who returned the Hogs to a level of success not enjoyed since the late 1970s, most are disappointed in Bobby Petrino.

He let them down, just like he let down so many others in Louisville and Atlanta on the way to taking the Arkansas job one mid-December night in 2007.

Didn’t the national media and fans from his prior stops try to tell us? Weren’t we told that, yes, he’d win and that he was a terrific football coach, but he wasn't a good person and he would eventually break Arkansas fans' hearts?

Nobody realized he'd manage it quite this way, though.

No, Petrino was supposed to tell Arkansas fans and his boss and his players how much he loved coaching the Razorbacks as the Hogs began to win regularly, and then one night about four years into his UA tenure, he’d slip out only to be named the coach at Texas or Tennessee or some other program perceived to be on a higher level than Arkansas.

(I even had a bet with a good friend, another worldly-wise and college football-wise former Razorback, who was adamant in the fall of 2008 that Petrino wouldn’t be the coach at Arkansas in four years; now I owe him dinner.)



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