Bobby Petrino is someone who I have absolutely no respect for, and this predates his tenure at Arkansas, one reason why I never rooted for them. Let us not forget that he took over a Falcons team that had recently been decimated by the loss of Michael Vick to prison; if he had ridden out the season, tendered his resignation, and gone off the green grass of big time college football, nobody would have faulted him that: he was supposed to make Vick a well-rounded quarterback, not stumble through the season with a Vick-less squad (akin, in many respects, to the Colts this past year without Peyton Manning). No one would begrudged him leaving that situation… except that he didn’t ride out the season, rather submitting his resignation by paper in the middle of the night after week 13 (with a record of 3-10), not saying goodbye to his players in Atlanta, and promptly accepting the job at Arkansas. Talk about a brainless coward.
Jump ahead to his motorcycle excursion: he showed two faults of a man trying to regain his youth: having a fling with a younger woman, riding a motorcycle; he is the biggest kid in the locker room. He took a struggling Arkansas program and made it relevant because of his enthusiasm and recruiting ability. However, he was bitten by the question that plagues NFL teams year after year: where is character in the world that revolves around winning above all else?
It is the most difficult question to answer in sports, but this is one case where you can make a strong argument that character overrides the success; even if you try to defend Coach, excuse me, ex-Coach Petrino, one must argue that lying about being with your mistress on a motorcycle, while your wife and four kids are at home, is not as bad as it sounds; quite a difficult sell. Oh, you also have to defend him hiring her at Arkansas.
He had to lose his job; he had to. I’m going to spare the whole “it’s good for the players” argument, or the “role model” argument; the players are young men, they are already hard-wired on how they’ll behave in similar circumstances to their coach, excuse me again, ex-Coach. The reason he had to lose his job is that it would damage Arkansas’s reputation, beyond football, if he remained there. As opposed to professional football, where there are substantially fewer options for players, college football has hundreds of options, and a program led by a tarnished coach is far less attractive than a program lead by a coach with integrity, such as Texas’s Mack Brown.
I suppose the real question is: who will hire him? It certainly won’t be an NFL team, at least in a head coaching capacity, since his little stunt with the Falcons left a lot of bad feelings out there; perhaps he could settle down at an FCS school, rebuild his reputation, sort his personal life out, and make himself appealing to an FBS school after enough time has passed. However, this doesn’t change the fact that prior to him being hired by the Falcons, he had a reputation as a vagabound, holding many different jobs in fifteen years.
His personal life, is well, personal, so I won’t go there. His business life is a mess, and that will require the right move to fix it.