OK, so here in the Atlanta area, the story of University of Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino’s motorcycle accident is getting a lot of play. Other than in the state of Arkansas, where the story has obvious interest, folks here in Atlanta are following the details with great glee, a sort of Southern schadenfreude, as the man is universally reviled here.
Among the details to emerge are:
• He was not alone; a young woman, 25-year-old Jessica Dorrell—a former Arkansas volleyball player recently hired by Petrino to a $50,000-a-year job at the university to do some recruiting coordinating (actually, it was a job created just for her)—was riding with him;
• They were having an “inappropriate relationship”;
• She is engaged to the Univ. of Arkansas swimming and diving coach (or, at least, she was).
But all is not lost for Petrino, as fans of the school’s football team held a rally on Monday to show support for the coach who has turned the team’s fortunes around. There is a Facebook page called Team Save Coach Petrino and has some 21,000
sheep supporters and counting. The group posted this message to UofA athletic director Jeff Long:
Arkansas Football: It’s the players running through the A, Hog Hats. It’s more than 70,000 fans calling, “WOO PIG SOOIE!”
Arkansas Football: It’s the State of Arkansas banding together behind one team, and a mascot like no other. Those select few who put on the jersey are, chosen. They wear the colors, they pay the price, and they succeed. They are exceptionable, they are Razorbacks.
Together we stand as tall as the tower of Old Main. Our memories are etched in stone like names on Senior Walk. And our blood flows Razorbacks Red. For 100 years we’ve been Hogwild, and today we continue the tradition.
We are, Arkansas Razorbacks!
SAVE OUR COACH!”
Why is Petrino so hated in Georgia, you ask? Well, Petrino was brought in to coach the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 primarily to make star quarterback Michael Vick into a more complete quarterback. He took the job after signing a huge contract extension at the University of Louisville, where he was head football coach. (They still hate him in Louisville, too.)
However, before Petrino’s first training camp, it emerged that Vick had bankrolled an illegal dog fighting operation. For all intents and purposes, the Falcons’ 2007 season ended when Vick was arraigned on federal dog fighting charges on July 26. The terms of Vick’s bail barred him from leaving Virginia before the Nov. 26 trial, nixing his season. Without its starting quarterback, the Falcons stunk up the join that year.
In December, with the Falcons at 3-10 and with three games to go, Petrino resigned his position in Atlanta the day after pledging his commitment to owner Arthur Blank. Instead, he flew off to Arkansas to take the head coaching job there. Petrino informed his players of his decision to resign via four-sentence laminated note left at the locker of each player.
So, in case you missed the story, Petrino, who has led the Razorbacks to several winning seasons and a No. 5 ranking at the end of last season, was in a one-motorcycle accident the other day. He left the scene, getting a lift to the hospital from so passersby. He told his story to the investigating police and to university official but, like all cover-ups, the real truth eventually came out.
A song about the Petrino’s current mess, called “The Ballad of Bobby Petrino (The Girl in the Athletic Department in the Volleyball shorts)” is getting a lot of air time this morning: