5 at 10: Petrino's gone and Braves win

5 at 10: Petrino's gone and Braves win

April 11th, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Don't forget about Friday's mailbag, we still have a couple of spots open.

From the "Talks Too Much Studios" here we go.

Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino walks to the sideline as the Razorbacks took on Mississippi State during an NCAA college football game in Little Rock, Ark. Arkansas fired coach Petrino on Tuesday, April 10, 2012, publicly dressing him down for unfairly hiring his mistress and intentionally misleading his boss about everything from their relationship to her presence at the motorcycle accident that ultimately cost him his job. (AP Photo/El Dorado News-Times, Michael Orrell)

Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino walks to the...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Bye-bye Bobby

Arkansas canned Bobby Petrino on Tuesday. It's hard to disagree with Razorbacks athletic director Jeff Long's decision, too, after Petrino's off-the-field actions. (Background: Petrino had an affair with a 25-year-old former Arkansas volleyball player, helped her get a job within the Arkansas football offices, lied about said relationship, reportedly gave her $20K, was involved in a single-motorcycle accident in which his mistress was involved and lied to everyone within ear shot in an effort to cover it up. Caught up? Side note: There were questions about why we assumed there likely would be a sexual harassment suit at some point, and to put it plainly, if/when the affair ended - and it would have ended badly - there's always at least grounds/claims whether they are real or perceived for sexual harassment when the relationship involves superiors and subordinates. Always.)

Well, apparently Long and the Razorbacks said this was it, and good for them. Long, who looked noticeably worn down during the news conference, delivered the message clearly and cleanly about Petrino. In the end, the fractured trust between Petrino and a growing number of folks inside the Arkansas athletic department was too much to ignore. And with that, the book was closed on Bobby Petrino at Arkansas, a wildly successful ride ended in part by a wildly sketchy motorcycle ride, and all that is left this morning are more questions. Let's try to cover a few of them.

1) Who's next for Arkansas? Gus Malzahn's name has been tossed out. So has Butch Davis' and Garrick McGee's, although those last two seem like tough calls considering their recent troubles abiding within the rules/laws would be less than an ideal fit in the current state of the Arkansas program. If we were Jeff Long, we'd call Charlie Strong first and make him say no. Then we'd call Kirby Smart. There are going to be a lot of mentions of a slew of names - do they just go ahead and call Houston Nutt and get this over with? What about Tommy Tuberville in his run through the SEC West? Regardless who is the next coach, that's going to be a tough job. Think of it this way, even a pretty good hire drops them to the bottom half of the nation's toughest division. It's a tough spot for sure.

2) What's next for Petrino, the coach? Wow, it's hard to think that less than four months after leading the Hogs to a Cotton Bowl win and a No. 5 national ranking that Petrino is all-but-unhirable right now. But he is. It's hard to think that arguably the guy with the second-most secure coaching gig in the SEC and maybe the country is out of work. But he is. Dude can flat-out coach, there is no doubt, but combine the Jet-Gate thing a few years ago, the normal lies he told to Louisville's administration, the way he skipped out on the Falcons in the middle of the night after 13 games and leaving notes on the players' lockers, and now this. Petrino is the coaching version of Nixon. He's untouchable.

3) What's next for Petrino, the man? He's got some serious 'splain' to do. He's 51, married and has four kids, and he was messing around with someone half his age in what has become the biggest affair scandal in Arkansas history not involving Bill Clinton. He lost a job that was going to pay him seven-figures for as long as he wanted it. Dude has dug himself a hole so deep he's about to see China.

4) Is there a message in this for the sport as a whole? OK, we don't know many times we need to say this but we'll keep doing it. Gang, tell the truth. Period. Tell the truth. If Jim Tressel had told the truth he would have been disciplined but likely would still be the coach at THE Ohio State. Same goes for Bruce Pearl. And almost any other high-profile coach that was sacked recently. Here's saying if Bobby Petrino had stood up at the news conference after the motorcycle crash and spilled the beans, he'd still be the coach. He'd likely be getting a divorce of course, but he'd still have a job.

5) What's the lesson? When you ignore history, you're doomed to repeat it. Several Falcons players said after Petrino tippy-toed off into the night that the man was a liar and classless. Here is what then Falcons running back Warrick Dunn said in December 2007 when Petrino left. "I guess Arkansas should be worried. Any family or any kid he recruits should worry. Do you really buy into what a guy says when he did the same thing to Louisville to come to Atlanta? He did the same thing to Atlanta to go to Arkansas. I think his history and rep speaks for itself." And there you go. (Side note: In Petrino's apology statement released to the media, he lamented the fact that he did not have the chance to meet with his players face-to-face before his firing became known. Digest that one.)


Turning the page

If anything good is to come from this Petrino mess, it's this: College football coaches other than Nick Saban will soon come to grips that they are not bigger than the program. This day of reckoning is starting to take shape and there will be a stark and swift turn on this in the very near future.

Let's look at the downfalls of some of the true monster names in recent years for various things that had little to do with football.

Pete Carroll re-built USC into a power and had to skadoodle because of Reggie Bush and Co.

Jim Tressel had THE Ohio State among THE nation's elite and was foiled by tattoos and trinket traders.

Joe Pa, well, that was so surreal and gross, let's just move along.

Now, Bobby Petrino, who in truth had Arkansas poised to contend in the SEC West, which is saying something.

The other positive thing that has evolved from these scandals is some perspective in regard to NCAA violations. Case in point: Lane Kiffin was harangued for a few secondary violations that included mentioning a recruit by name to a reporter when he was Tennessee. That doesn't really seem like that big of a deal anymore, huh? Not with cover-ups and payoffs and scandals with child molestation and the seedy stuff that went on at Miami.

The NCAA needs to hurry up and restructure their rule book while the pendulum of perspective is swinging into some area of consciousness.


Atlanta Braves' Jason Heyward, left, slides safely across home plate to score as Houston Astros catcher Chris Snyder (18) waits for the throw during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 10, 2012, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Atlanta Braves' Jason Heyward, left, slides safely across...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Braves win, Braves win

See, we told you as soon as Chipper Jones returned, all would be right with the Braves' world.

We're kidding of course, but Jones did go 2-for-4 with a homer in his season debut and Atlanta recorded its first win. In fact, at this pace Jones will win a batting crown (he's on pace to hit .500 this year, which would be a record) and have the greatest swan song season in sports history.

Of course, it's baseball and it's a long season and you have to trust it.

Two other Braves related matters:

1) Jordan Schafer had three hits and three stolen bases against the Braves on Tuesday. Here's saying the former five-star Braves prospect and current Astros centerfielder will be one of those guys that tortures the Braves for years to come. A Brett Butler for this generation if you will.

2) On the other end of the spectrum, former Braves' first-round pick Joey Devine continues to battle arm troubles. Devine missed 2009 and 2010 recovering from Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of this season for another Tommy John surgery. Devine was a first-round pick by Atlanta in 2005 and was believed to be the closer of the future. Now his future in the game is in doubt.


This and that

- Paul Azinger said Tiger Woods' profanity-laced rants and club-throwing-and-kicking actions made Woods look like the "south-end half of a northbound mule." This may be the strongest testament to how much the golf world has changed its view on Woods. When he acted like a horse's patootie before, everyone kind of turned the other way and pretended it didn't happen. And if any of the regular golf media folks said anything about it Woods would have stonewalled them. Now, Paul Azinger is delivering zingers.

- Former Auburn linebacker Kurt Crain was found dead in his home earlier this week. He was one of our favorites during his time at Auburn. Dude would flat-out hit you.

- The Falcons do not have a first-round pick this April (and we still contend it was a good deal to get Julio Jones, and here's saying the Browns would trade that first-round pick for Julio right now without blinking an eye). Still, from the files of bad news for our enemies is still somewhat good news, the recent developments of the Saints and the soap opera that is "The Young and the Petrino" have a slew of Falcons fans we know grinning and whistling while they work.

- The Celtics looked great against the Heat last night. It was an enjoyable game to watch.

- College basketball's favorite will be shaped when a few high school studs pick their college of choice today. Kentucky is a finalist for two of the biggest unhooked fish on the board. Here's saying the Wildcats land at least one of the two and maybe both.


Today's question

What's your thought on the Bobby Petrino situation?

And beyond that, was firing him the right call? And beyond that, do you believe Petrino could have kept his job if he just told the truth about the sordid situation from the start last week?

And beyond that, put yourself in Johnny Razorbacks Fan's seat. Let's say this happened to Saban or Chizik or whoever is the coach at your school, do you want them fired knowing the football team is going to take suffer?