John Clay: Karma comes calling for Arkansas' Petrino

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistApril 7, 2012 

Just when the Big Blue Nation didn't think the week could get any better, Bobby Petrino runs his motorcycle, and his career, into a ditch.

Petrino is Arkansas' head football coach. He guided the Razorbacks to the Sugar Bowl two years ago. Arkansas won 11 games last season. Before that, he was wildly successful at Louisville.

As a football coach, Bobby Petrino is brilliant. As a person, not so much.

Actually, it's inaccurate to say Petrino is Arkansas' head football coach. As of Thursday night, he's on paid administrative leave. The reason is lying. The person he lied to was his boss, Arkansas Athletics Director Jeff Long. The circumstance was Petrino's Sunday night bike ride in which the coach ended up with four broken ribs, a cracked vertebrae in his neck and red-faced embarrassment.

Reason: On the back of his motorcycle was a 25-year-old woman, a former Arkansas volleyball player named Jessica Dorrell who does not happen to be the 51-year-old Petrino's wife. He already has one of those. For now.

Instead, Dorrell is an Arkansas football staff member, hired on March 28, four days before she rode Bobby's bike. Ought oh.

Only Petrino didn't tell his boss he had a passenger, at least not until Thursday, and not until it was released in the official police report. Only then did he come clean, issuing a public apology to his wife and four children, admitting that he had a "previous inappropriate relationship" and saying he hoped to remain as coach.

Thing is, it's not the first "previous inappropriate relationship" of Double-Cross Bob's career.

In 2003, during his first season as head coach at Louisville, he infamously met in a clandestine interview with Auburn officials about the school's head coaching job. Only Auburn still had a head coach at the time in Tommy Tuberville. The same Tuberville who had hired Petrino to be his offensive coordinator at Auburn before Petrino left for U of L. Petrino first lied about the interview, then fessed up after Auburn admitted to the meeting.

After apologizing to his boss, U of L AD Tom Jurich, the man who gave him his first head-coaching job, Petrino reportedly entertained secret job discussions with Notre Dame, Florida, Ole Miss and LSU.

Five months after signing a 10-year contract with U of L in 2006, Petrino left to coach the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. Thirteen games into his first 16-game season, Petrino infamously left a four-sentence note in each of his players' lockers telling them he was resigning to become the head coach at Arkansas.

Former U of L football player Ryan Holifield sued Petrino alleging the coach failed to make good on a scholarship offer after Holifield paid his way for a year as a walk-on. Petrino had a history of offering scholarships to recruits, only to pull the offer if a better prospect came along.

Saturday's New York Times contained a quintessential Petrino anecdote in which Louisville Seneca Coach Louis Dover recounted the time the U of L coach tried to persuade a former Dover player to skip a friend's funeral, in which he was a pallbearer, to attend practice.

"He's one of the elite minds," Dover told the Times, "Personally, well, he's a good coach."

Good coach, bad guy.

Kentucky fans know that first-hand.

They remember the 2003 UK-U of L football game at Commonwealth Stadium. It was Petrino's first game as the Cards' coach. It was Rich Brooks' first game as the Cats' coach. Louisville led 33-24 with under 30 seconds to go, ball deep in Kentucky territory, when everyone expected the Cards to take a knee. Instead, Petrino took a timeout. And then scored a rub-it-in touchdown, sparking a Big Blue outcry.

A year later, when Louisville beat UK at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, the Cardinals did in fact take a knee at game's end.

"I thought that's what they wanted," snarked Petrino.

His April Fools' Day motorcycle ride has surely given plenty of Petrino's detractors what they wanted.

What goes around, comes around.

Karma is a ditch.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: jclay@herald-leader.com.Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com

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