Originally written on Player Perspective  |  Last updated 4/9/12

I might be the only Atlanta Falcons fan on earth that still has somewhat of a soft spot for Bobby Petrino. Yes, I think his cowardly ditch of the Falcons when Michael Vick was carted off to face dogfighting charges was epically wrong. But Petrino entertains me with his slick (slimy?) ways–even his press conferences can be things to remember. You know, the kinda things that get people fired and ****.

The feeling across much of the media and blogosphere is that there’s just no way Arkansas can let Petrino fly on this one. Not only did he lie to police and made the school unwitting accomplices to his story, he compromised the athletic program’s integrity–if there is such a thing in NCAA sports–by hiring his alleged mistress and doing it all under the nose of her groom-to-be. This story has layers of filth on it but there’s no guarantee Petrino gets his due.

I’ve heard some men say that the trouble a woman causes in your life must not exceed her beauty relative to that. I think in sports we see a similar thing where there are some guys who are so talented people forgive them anything. Whether it’s Nick Saban or Rick Pitino or our precious Petino who sports such hubris he takes his side chick around on a town where he’s a super star on his motorcycle without wearing a helmet. That takes a lot of balls and narcissism.

Petrino has admitted to a previous inappropriate relationship with the woman (which stretches the limits of the definition of “previous”) and has been placed on administrative leave while the Hogs sort out the slop.

What happens from here we don’t know but because of how far talent seems to take men in sports it’s hard to imagine Petrino being fired. I think Andy Staples gets it right here:

Under normal circumstances, the job security of the Arkansas athletic director depends upon only three things. 1) Does his football coach win? 2) Does his basketball coach win? 3) Does his football coach win?

Jeff Long’s decision to fire Petrino could put his own job at risk. What happens if Arkansas fires Petrino and goes on to lose the next 2 or 3 seasons. That puts Long’s job in jeopardy as well as others. That’s the thing about NCAA sports. The coach is just one Jenga block–albeit an important one. But when you slide that block out the whole thing can come crumbling down. By firing Petrino, Long would just be making some statement about AR’s rules and standards, he’d be risking his career to hold them up.

With everyone in an athletic department–and in many cases, the school in its entirety– so intrinsically dependent on the success of the football team, standing up to Bobby Petrino can essentially involve sitting on everyone else. Remember this: Petrino came to Arkansas with Georgia clay dirt on his hands and Jeff Long was the one that wiped them clean with cold hard cash.

I think Petrino deserved to be fired before we even knew who the woman involved was, but this could go either way. It’s really hard to kick a player out of the game when they’re holding so many chips.

 

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