Dear Coach Petrino,
Godspeed on a quick and complete recovery of your physical injuries regardless of what happens. It was not your time, and it was not worse. For those we have wonderful reasons to be grateful.
In the vast majority of circumstances your marriage is no one’s business, and many would contend that it is not so now. While many aspects of your marriage are not for anyone else, most unfortunately, you’ve placed one critical part of your marriage vows into the public discussion – fidelity. The problem is that when you came to Arkansas, your critics decried that you had no fidelity to any place or any job. The attacks were professional for the most part, but some extrapolated your professional conduct into commentary on how you were personally, or even innately.
You were hired despite the outcry, and to that end, this space has tried to explore the circumstances around your supposed transgressions while ignoring the obvious that college coaching is probably one of the least faithful professions in existence. The basic ideas were not difficult to fathom. Your talent, desire, and expertise is placed best in college football, and you wanted to challenge your coaching abilities against the best of the best in college football, the SEC. You wanted to do so because you are one of the best college football coaches in the country. The University of Arkansas always appeared to be one of the potential destinations of your coaching career.
When the crossroads that the Pat Fordes of the world warned us “poor saps” in Razorback Nation came as Urban Meyer left the University of Florida, you already proved your worth as a head coach by taking the Razorbacks to the Sugar Bowl. You were mentioned as a Gator candidate while Arkansas faced the issues of not having any agreement that you would not go to an SEC East school and competing for your services against a Florida a program that has clout, money and blue chip athletes in great supply. However, you silenced your critics who decried you as unfaithful and proved that your commitment to Arkansas was solid by reaching a long-term contract with the University of Arkansas with a decreasing $18,000,000 buyout clause. No sports commentator or athletic administrator would ever float your name in the near future as a potential job candidate elsewhere without being labeled as financially ignorant or crazy. When your name has been mentioned because of some other coach’s actions in leaving a place, that one black and white agreement has put the issue to rest.
If no one has come out and said it, then here it is — these circumstances hurt, even when the moral aspects are completely left between you and God.
Simply by your own characterization of your relationship with Ms. Dorrell as “inappropriate,” you’ve given new life to those who contended that your “wandering eye” was part of you and not part of a decided professional path. It hurts to have to “take” that from your detractors or those who use it as one more reason to look down on Arkansas.
The circumstances hurt because they renew old wounds and embarrassment from recent history of the University of Arkansas coaching and administration. Conceivably, you have concentrated so much on your job and bringing Arkansas Razorbacks Football up to your standards that you only understand bits and pieces of what the Razorback Family has gone through coaching-and-administration wise since 2000. You would not be alone. In his press conference Director Long declined to place your circumstances in perspective with recent coaching history and specifically pointed out that he wasn’t here. Neither of you are responsible for the past, but as a Fan, it’s part of what you came into when you took the job here, and it hurts to have additional entries in a history we’d rather forget.
Right now, the uncertainty of it all hurts. When potentially severe damage to all that you’ve built over years is the potential consequence, why would you give the stability of your accomplishments to an “inappropriate” confidant’s trust or to the tenuous world of secrecy to hold if you weren’t willing to sacrifice it all? The uncertainty of what Jeff Long finds about whether there are any implications to the University of Arkansas is concerning. But most of all, am I as a Fan going to get shafted if I side with you once again? Do I want to take that risk? Do you really want to be the Head Football Coach at the University of Arkansas?
All of this must be immensely difficult to deal with on top of the injuries that you have, but the resolution to this situation is something you can’t simply delegate to your agent Russ Campbell or to an attorney. The representatives can only deal with any possible discipline of the situation. As a Fan, this isn’t a matter of “terms,” and if they get to that point, as a Fan I would want to see that they are fairly measured. They can’t answer what I really want to know.
Until the last few weeks, everything that you have done from your contract, to your interaction with Arkansans, to your substantial donation to Arkansas Children’s Hospital has shown that you were 100% resolute in your commitment to the University of Arkansas and the State of Arkansas.
I know what you’ve said in your statement regarding the revelations last week, but that’s not what I want to know.
I need to know that your Heart and Appropriate Professionalism are into being the Arkansas Razorbacks’ Head Football Coach for today and in the future.
Quite simply, are you a Razorback or not?
I sincerely hope that you will provide the assurance in words and deeds.
Wishing you the best,
Sharp “Tusk” Williams
The above is my own and not necessarily reflective of any of my friends on Hog Database or my sponsor below. — Sharp
Bobby Petrino’s First Interview After He Was Fired From the University of Arkansas
Bobby Petrino emotional, regretful
Joe Schad [ARCHIVE]
August 9, 2012
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HELENA, Mont. — Bobby Petrino, speaking for the first time since being fired in April by the University of Arkansas following a motorcycle accident and subsequent revelation of an affair with a woman who worked for him, said he wakes up each morning wondering why he did what he did.
Breaking down several times in an interview with ESPN near the childhood home where his parents still reside, Petrino opened up about the fallout from his relationship with a 25-year-old former Arkansas athlete he hired into the football office.
The former coach was emotional while discussing a conversation with his parents, Robert and Patricia.
“How could I put what we had in jeopardy?” Petrino said. “This is what I wake up early every morning thinking about, what I lay in bed thinking about. Why?”
He added, with tears in his eyes: “I just don’t understand how I could do it. You put energy into the people that love you, that count on you.”
Petrino lost $21 million in potential earnings and what he calls his “dream job.” But worse, Petrino says, is having put the relationship with his wife and children in jeopardy. The hardest moment, he said, was sitting down with his wife, Becky, and admitting he had been unfaithful.
“Looking at the look in her eyes,” Petrino said, “how I could possibly do something like this, to hurt her. The anger. The feeling of, ‘How could you possibly do this to me?’ ”
He then told his four children.
“It’s hard for them to understand how I could do this, how I could hurt their mother,” he said.
Jessica Dorrell, the former volleyball player turned football recruiting organizer who is half Petrino’s age, was on the back of that motorcycle, the one Petrino put into a ditch alongside an Arkansas road. It was early on a Sunday evening in April and Petrino lost control — of the bike and his life.
“I’ve gone over it a number of times in my mind,” Petrino said. “How did I end up off the road? I’m still not exactly sure. I don’t know how I ended up in that ditch.”
Petrino said that in the moments after the crash, he knew his world would eventually come crashing down on him and, that sooner or later, he would be forced to admit his sins.
“I had an affair,” Petrino said. “I cheated on my wife. I knew there were consequences that were going to happen. I knew that I had this facing me. That I had to tell my wife, I had to tell my boss.”
Petrino said that all along he intended to tell his wife and Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long. Petrino said at first he was too injured and incoherent to do so. He said he intended to tell them three days after the crash, but Long sent a text that morning to say he was leaving town for a while.
Petrino said he thought he would talk to the two Friday morning, but that a police report listing Dorrell as a passenger was released a day earlier than he had been told, forcing him to have a conversation with Long by phone. He also briefed his wife shortly before Dorrell’s name became public.
“I really wanted to do it in the right order and in person, but the timeline just got away,” he said.
Petrino says a university-issued statement that cited no other individuals involved in the crash was crafted by the school after consultation with his agents.
“I had nothing to do with that statement,” he said.
On all other accounts, Petrino accepts responsibility. For example, he does not dispute how wrong it was to recommend Dorrell be hired into his office — over scores of other applicants — when they had been in a relationship.
“There is no justification,” Petrino said. “There is no excuse for having her in the interview pool, hiring her, having her on the back of the motorcycle. I look back on it and there is no good answer. I wasn’t thinking and I wasn’t acting correctly.
“That’s not how I was raised. That’s not how I raised my children. I take responsibility for it and I am really sorry. I have played it over and over in my head a million times. How could I do this? How could this happen? And not just the hiring. Or that day. But my actions, my behavior — for months it was just wrong.”
Petrino said he and Becky are in counseling.
“I’m working hard to save my marriage,” he said. “I’m working one day at a time. I want to stay married. That’s my main priority right now. Making things right with my family.”
Petrino said that time to think has also led him to believe he would approach certain aspects of coaching differently, given the opportunity.
“I’ve made mistakes and I’m going to be a better person for it,” he said. “I’m going to keep my life in better balance. And I really feel I’ll be a better coach because this happened, because now I know that I’m going to coach the person as much as the player and help the person who has made mistakes, help him understand that he is not going to be defined by the mistakes he has made but how he reacts to it and overcomes it.”
Petrino said he regretted not being able to say goodbye to his Arkansas players. In a phone call, running back Knile Davis told Petrino, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
Petrino became emotional when relaying this conversation. Portrayed at times as unfeeling, he now appears more capable of expressing emotion, sometimes at unpredictable moments.
“I never got a chance to apologize to the team,” he said. “I never got a chance to tell them how sorry I am. I broke one of our cardinal rules, which was to know the difference between right and wrong and to choose to do what’s right.”
Petrino is not naïve to the perception that he has been disloyal and untrustworthy in his previous jobs. He covertly interviewed for the Auburn job while the coach at Louisville and he left the NFL’s Falcons for the Arkansas job in 2007 before his first season in Atlanta was complete.
But while Petrino might point to extenuating or unknown circumstances in those situations, he does not when it comes to how his Arkansas tenure ended.
“It’s hard for me to say what other people think of me,” Petrino said. “I do know that the Atlanta and Louisville situations are completely different than this. I was at Arkansas for four years and I felt like I was going to finish my career there. This one is all on me. This is something that I did. I made the mistakes and unfortunately I have to be able to live with the consequences.”
Those consequences include not coaching a Razorbacks team considered a legitimate national championship contender entering this season. Arkansas was 21-5 over the past two seasons.
“It’s going to be really hard this fall,” Petrino said. “It’s going to be a really painful reminder of the consequences for my actions when I have to watch the Razorbacks play on TV, the guys I recruited and helped develop. Instead of standing on the sideline with them, I’m going to be sitting on the living room couch, watching them. And I just can’t believe I screwed up so bad.”
During a portion of the interview on the field at Carroll College, where his father Robert coached and where he played quarterback and began his own coaching career, Petrino said it has occurred to him that while he might attend a few college games this season — not likely Arkansas — he won’t be on any field during games.
“I’m going to miss so much about it,” he said. “The preparation. The camaraderie. The chemistry that you try to build as a team. Watching the players smile. And the look in their eyes when they do well. It’s going to be really tough, really different.”
Petrino has a proven record as a head coach, play-caller, quarterback developer and offensive mastermind. He’s won 74 percent of his games as a college head coach, a better showing than those of Nick Saban, Les Miles, Steve Spurrier and Mack Brown.
Petrino’s offense was among the top three in the SEC in each of the past three years. And his offense at Louisville was among the top 10 in the nation for four consecutive years. And yet he understands that there are no guarantees that he’ll ever get to run another program.
Does he need to coach again? “I think I do,” he said.
Does he think he’ll ever coach in a high-profile situation again? “I don’t know that right now,” he said.
Since being dismissed by Arkansas, schools such as Cal and NFL teams such as the Tennessee Titans have asked him to visit with their coaching staffs. He has done so and might continue to.
Petrino won’t coach this season but hopes someone gives him at least one more chance.
“I would like to be able to explain the mistakes that I made,” he said. “I think I’ve got to take this one day at a time, continue to improve as a person and as a husband. I’m also going to continue to work on football. And I just hope and pray that I get that opportunity again.”
Text of Interview
Petrino: “I went over it a number of times in my mind. How did I end up off the road? I’m not exactly sure how that happened. I don’t know exactly how I ended up in the ditch.”
Schad: What do you remember thinking as this was happening?
“I think that the whole thing came down to the fact that I had an affair and I cheated on my wife and I knew that there were consequences that were going to happen. It’s hard to say what everything I was thinking. But I did know that I had this facing me that I had to tell my wife. I had to tell my family. I had to tell my boss what happened.”
Why did you recommend that a woman that you were having a relationship with be hired into the football office?
“There’s no justification. There’s no excuse for having her in the interview pool. Hiring her. Having her on the back of the motorcycle. When I look back on it, there is no good answer. I take responsibility for it. And I really am sorry. I played it over in my head a million times. How could I do this? How could this happen? And not just the hiring or that day. But my actions and my behavior for months was just wrong.”
How would you describe the singular most difficult moment through all of this?
“Sitting down and telling Becky. And looking at the look in her eyes of how I possibly could do something like this to hurt her. Something I guess anybody who has hurt their loved ones or lost their dream job can relate to how that is.”
What would you tell a college or university athletic director or president or an NFL head coach or a team owner who said I believe you’re a good coach, but why should I trust you?
“Well I just hope and pray that I get the chance to sit down in front of the person that is making the decision like that and be able to explain the mistakes I’ve made. How I’ve become a better person. A better father. A better husband. Like I said, I know I’m going to be a better coach because I know I’m going to spend more time coaching the person. Not just the player.”
Q: How would you describe your emotional state right now?
Well, it’s a little bit two-fold being here in Montana. It’s great to come back home and, you know, be back where everything started. It’s a lot of great memories here. My father and my mother have been a tremendous influence on my life and so supportive in everything that I’ve done from my early days until my coaching days. But it’s also hard, too. (chokes up) It’s hard to come home and feel these emotions and how I hurt them.”
What did you tell them?
Just that I don’t understand how I could do it.”
How do you think the person that sits before me right now compares to the person four or five months ago?
“I have a better understanding of what life really is about. Keep your priorities straight. Put your energy into people that love you. People that count on you (chokes up again). I’m working hard to save my marriage. I’m working one day at a time. I want to stay married. That’s my main priorities is making things right with my family.”
[An early segement ran on the Noon sports center. It’s included below].
Former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino reached out to Razorback players and coaches last month. Now he’s ready to make his apology public.
Petrino granted a one-on-one interview with ESPN reporter Joe Schad that is airing throughout the day on SportsCenter. They filmed the interview in Montana, where Petrino grew up and still has family.
ESPN said the interview will air on the 5 p.m CT SportsCenter, but portions are running throughout the day.
Petrino, who has been doing consulting work for the Tennessee Titans and Cal Bears, is described by Schad (on Twitter) as “remorseful” and “apologetic.” He was fired in April after a motorcycle accident involving a female member of his football staff.
How did this relationship with another woman come about?
“I’m trying to put my finger on the why. I somehow drifted away from what’s always been so important to me, what I’ve been defined as. Which is my family and we’ve got to figure it out.”
Why did you recommend that a woman you were having a relationship with be hired into the football office?
“There is no justification. There is no excuse for having her in the interview pool, hiring her, having her on the back of the motorcycle. When I look back on it there is no good answer. All I know is that I wasn’t thinking and I wasn’t acting correctly. That’s not how I was raised. That’s not how I raised my children. I take responsibility for it and I really am sorry. I have played it over in my head a million times. How could I do this? How could this happen? And not just the hiring or that day. But my actions. And my behavior. For months. It was just wrong.”
What do you think was your biggest mistake?
“It’s hard to say the biggest mistake, but it all comes back to the fact I had an affair and I cheated on my wife.”
Biggest weakness as a person?
[Pause] “That’s a tough question right there. In this situation it’s came down to how could I possible do this? How could I drift away from what is so important to me. I do know this: I made mistakes. I’m going to be a better person becuse of it. I’m going to keep my life in better balance, the balance of my family, my faith and my profession. I really feel like I’ll be a better coach because this happened. I now know that I’m going to coach the person as much as the player and help the person when he has made mistakes and help him understand that he’s not going to be defined by the mistakes he’s made and how he reacts to it and overcomes it.”
How would you describe the singular most difficult moment through all of this?
“Sitting down and telling Becky. And looking at the look in her eyes of how I possibly could do something like this to hurt her. It’s just something I guess anybody that’s ever hurt their loved ones or lost their dream job, can relate to how that is.”
How do you think the person that sits before me right now compares to the person five months ago?
“I have a better understanding of what life really is about. You keep your priorities straight you put your energy into the people that love you [breaking down] count on you. I’m working hard to save my marriage I’m working one day at a time. I want to stay married. That’s mainly my main priorities, making things right with my family.”