April 10, 2012
You might have heard that Arkansas Football Head Coach Bobby Petrino was fired on Tuesday. At least, I'll just assume you have because the state is getting more attention than when our governor turned president. It hasn't been the good kind of attention though...until Tuesday.
Let me say, first, that I am and have been a Razorback fan since the days of Ken Hatfield. I've called the Hogs all across the country; even some places where I'm sure very few people had any idea what I was doing. I feel quite comfortable saying that had I been born on another planet full of green-blooded creatures, I'd still bleed Razorback red.
Like many of us, on Tuesday evening I turned to the Internet to gauge reaction to Athletic Director Jeff Long's decision to fire Petrino. Overall, I'd say the majority of what I saw was in support of Long. Let's face it. He made a very tough decision, that was unfortunately and undoubtedly the right decision.
The buzz word at Monday's rally to "save Petrino" was "forgiveness." I'm all for forgiveness. In fact, I believe in second chances and third chances and making sure that those who need it and genuinely deserve it get the forgiveness they seek. However, I also believe that very few - if any - of the fans in attendance at Monday's rally would take their own advice when faced with a similar decision to Long's when they went back to work on Tuesday.
Disagree with me? Let's step away and look at it from Long's perspective. Jeff Long visited his head football coach in the hospital, who then lied to him about the accident that put him there. Then Long's employee, Bobby Petrino, left the hospital and lied to everyone else except authorities who would have charged him with a crime had he decided to lie to them.
Petrino lied to every person in Arkansas, America, the media and anyone who was capable of hearing the words he was saying. He lied. People lie though, right? None of us are perfect – myself strongly included – but he lied to his boss and got caught...as publicly as possible.
What's worse, Petrino manipulated the hiring of a University of Arkansas employee - overlooking more than 150 other applicants. 150+ people who, presumably, were doing things the right way in hopes they would land a job at the University of Arkansas. 150+ people who also now have an arguably legitimate legal beef with the school.
Did I mention the woman Petrino hired, and with whom he had an "inappropriate relationship" was also engaged to another coach at the school? Petrino is dishonest and if one of your employees acted in the same manner, I think you'd fire that employee. If one of your friends acted that way, I think you'd reconsider how closely you held that relationship.
We all know we obtained our esteemed Coach Petrino amidst some shady dealings on his part. Three games left in the season and he left the Falcons to become a Razorback. He apologized and said goodbye to his team with a letter. He, once again, opted for the letter approach on Tuesday after the announcement he'd been fired. Bobby Petrino is that guy that breaks up with his girlfriend with a note. He's that girl who ends a relationship with a text message. Given the chance, he just can't stand up and take his licks.
I believe that Mr. Petrino does deserve to be forgiven. I believe he deserves a second chance. I don't believe he deserves it here though. I want the Razorbacks to have another winning season. I want my Alma Mater to become a powerhouse. I want my fellow fans to be happy, but not at the cost of the rest of the world seeing us just letting things slide.
Jeff Long made a tough decision, but I feel in my heart that it was the right decision. We're Razorback fans. We know how to take our lumps. We've had ups and downs, we'll have ups and downs - but I'm proud I bleed Razorback red and Jeff Long made me a little prouder.