Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 11/9/12
It’s no secret that Illinois Fighting Illini fans weren’t the happiest with the hire of Tim Beckman as college football coach. And Athletic Director Mike Thomas didn’t exactly “win the news conference” when Beckman was introduced either. Beckman didn’t come off as extremely polished and ready for prime time in that presser, so Illini Nation remains restless. The 2-7 start, with most of those 7 being blowouts, has fueled rumors that Beckman should/could be fired. Yes, after just one season. An abysmal season indeed. That, coupled with the Arkansas Razorbacks firing of Bobby Petrino in the wake of his scandalous affair with fellow employee Jessica Dorrell, led a lot of Illini fans to tweet about the idea of replacing Beckman with Petrino. They were half-kidding, right? Maybe not. Seriously, swapping Petrino for Beckman is crazy, right? (For more pics of Jessica Dorrell go here) Now this move would be extremely controversial to say the least, and it wouldn’t be the fair, right or just thing to do. Especially to Tim Beckman. But it might make good business sense in the long run, and this is a business more than it’s a game. Football is played on a green rectangle. You know what else are green rectangles? Dollars. Beckman has a 5 year, $9 million contract. That’s a serious buyout for a program already paying three coaches not to coach. Now I’m certainly not saying this should happen, and I doubt it’s warranted any consideration, but the idea is out there, and people are talking about it. Petrino has shown no interest in the open Kentucky job. The Illini just had a Petrino coaching the team, offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, who left after Ron Zook was fired. His first year was a rousing success, his second year a major flop. So those mixed results are something for the University to consider. We are talking about bloodlines here. More important however, is the fact that the more high profile Petrino hired his mistress for a job instead of 159 other applicants, gave her $20,000 for God knows what, and lied to cover it all up. He wasn’t fired for committing adultery with a subordinate, an engaged subordinate at that. He was fired for misallocation of state resources and lying to his superiors about it. I asked Los Angeles-based trial attorney, broadcast analyst Debra Opri by email what type of criminal charges, if any, could both Jessica Dorrell and Bobby Petrino face? Will there be possible significant monetary losses in any future civil cases? “There are various civil cases that can come of this including civil damages, which I believe is likely. A more apparent civil suit is the emotional suffering Ms. Dorrell endured, which put immense pressure on her to keep the consensual relationship alive in fear of losing her job,” Opri responded. Somebody will hire Petrino eventually, and with that there will be PR baggage, but what about his legal baggage carrying over? “Once this case is settled there’s not much that can be done by a future school willing to hire Petrino, although anytime you’re involved in a sexual harassment matter it’s a MAJOR red flag,” said Opri. “In the near future, the NCAA might sanction Petrino in some way.” So there’s a ton of baggage in hiring Petrino. And in tossing Beckman out after just one year. Yes, even though it’s been an extremely dismal year. Of course Arkansas knew what Petrino was/is, the Atlanta Falcons knew too. Football teams keep hiring him even though his name is mud. And this time he truly smeared his own name even further. But he wins games! And he got the Razorbacks to the highest point the program has seen in decades. If Illinois wants to win, he’s a viable option. Win at some cost obviously, but it’s still winning. Between Petrino and Urban Meyer at Ohio State, you’d have a lot of slimy reputation flowing through the Big Ten, but you’d also have some more top ranked teams. But before Petrino can move on to his next gig, he has to clean up his own mess first. Had all this occurred at a private institution instead of a state college, Opri assures me “it might have been a much quieter settlement!” The scandal dominated headlines, and there’s plenty of public blowback. Dorrell had to shut down her online wedding guestbook and registry due to defacing. Her fiance Josh Morgan is no longer with the school. The scandal even has it’s own theme song, a YouTube sensation. No wonder Dorrell isn’t talking to the media. And if the University of Illinois pulled the trigger on hiring Petrino, you’d have some public blowback in Champaign too. Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, MSN and Fox Sports A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.
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