Bobby Petrino is a great football coach, and despite his ignominious background and unceremonious ouster from the University of Arkansas, he will find a job somewhere else- and sooner rather than later. But Petrino is not unique, as countless coaches have found themselves on the wrong end of a scandal in the last few years. He is also not unique in his affair, as men in power sleeping with attractive young women is almost a cliché in today’s society. No, Petrino’s crime, aside from lying to his boss, family, and the public, goes far deeper than that. It is the very thing that put Jessica Dorrell on the staff in the first place.
She was named Player Development Coordinator for the football team just a month ago, in front of 160 applicants for the position in an abbreviated hiring process (great SI story here on the details) that was spurred on by ex-Coach Petrino. He fast-tracked his mistress into a job that literally hundreds wanted because she was sleeping with him. This may not seem like a big deal on the outset, but in today’s economy the hiring process must be more sacrosanct than ever. There is no place for nepotism, for cronyism, for filling the ranks of your staff with friends and girlfriends when qualified people are waiting in the wings.
I am sure everyone reading this knows someone who is out of a job, someone who is looking for a job and would have loved the kind of position that Ms. Dorrell had gift-wrapped at her doorstep. Now, I will not use this as a forum to attack Ms. Dorrell. If I was job hunting, I would love it if a friend or colleague would tell me they know the hiring manager and will make a call on my behalf, or help me out in some other way. As the applicant I would look for any possible advantage. If someone straight offered me a job I would jump at it. The onus is not on me or Ms. Dorrell to ensure the integrity of the process, it’s whoever is in charge- in this case, Bobby Petrino.
It is this sort of callous behavior that shows that Petrino is not only out of touch with his familial obligations and the basic morality of being true to your wife and family, but that he has a disregard for the men and women of Arkansas who are struggling with a lower-than-average but still high 7.6% unemployment rate. I know it is only one job, but Petrino has used up any benefit of the doubt from his past positions.
This is the same man who bailed on the Atlanta Falcons 13 games into the season with barely so much as a goodbye, a 78-word note that hardly did his team justice. This is not the kind of man who stands by his obligations to anyone. Look, I do not call out anyone who wants to make a career move to find his best fit in this world and to advance from one position to another. But he has a duty to at least finish the season. Even if that could be overlooked, this can not be.
At the end of the day he did lie- to the public, to his boss, to his family, and anyone else who would listen. He stood at that first press conference after the accident like a victim, smiling and believing in his heart that he would never be called out. But he wins games, and that will be enough for some school that desperately need to turn things around. When he does it will be simply transactional, there will be no trust. Petrino has yet to show he has what it takes to earn it.