The Petrino betrayal

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 89 views 

It's as classic as a Hollywood plot line.

A popular public figure secretly takes up with a young woman betraying his wife, family and loyal followers. Through happenstance, an accident sets off a chain of events that ultimately reveals deception, lies, and a cover-up.

The storyline always has that twist.

University of Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino's motorcycle accident has unraveled into a tale that even his worst enemies couldn't have predicted.

For a disciplinarian who preaches against distraction, he's created an enormous one, perhaps an insurmountable one.

UA Athletic Director Jeff Long has a Solomon's task if he wants to keep the successful coach. He'll need the patience of Job if he dismisses him and starts from scratch.

The conundrum for Long, Petrino, the University of Arkansas, and the Razorback Nation is that Petrino staying or leaving offers negative consequences.

If Petrino goes, the state psyche is yet bruised again with a restored football program that has been a source of tremendous pride for a state known for its low self-esteem.

If he stays, a fractured fan base likely remains. We've seen how that works with morale in the recent past.

I'm not passing judgment on Petrino's "previous inappropriate relationship.” People do things that defy explanation at times. How Petrino, his wife and family choose to reconcile his transgressions is a private matter to me.

But there are elements to this story that require public judgment.

The lack of full disclosure; Misleading your superiors; Misleading the public. And there is also the potential liability to which he may have exposed the University of Arkansas.

Petrino's problems could present legal repercussions for him based on school policies. Long's "review" will certainly thoroughly delve into this aspect of the ordeal.

However, Petrino's biggest problem will be his credibility. With his players, recruits and their parents. With his boss. With the public. It’s the lifeblood of his livelihood.

We've forgiven young men and women, who in their youth have committed indiscretions owing to their age and maturity.

Should a 51-year old man near the absolute pinnacle of success and at the height of responsibility for a state investment in money, lives and spirit have the same second chance?

Petrino hurt a lot of people — including himself — both physically and emotionally. But his credibility and leadership may be irreparably harmed.