The Chronicles of Bobby Petrino

First, it must be said that we at the Lighthouse really do not really care who Auburn hires as their next head coach.  I mean, as long as it isn’t Nick Saban then all is right with the Bama Nation world, right? 

But, the Lighthouse does want to cast a very bright and revealing light on the career of one Bobby Petrino for anyone who might want to hire him(cough-cough, Auburn, cough-cough).  While a Lighthouse can be a beautiful landmark on the horizon, it’s true purpose is to alert ships and their crew to imminent danger.  So, if your school is considering hiring Mr Petrino, then it is the Bama Lighthouse’s duty to let you know what you are getting yourselves into.  In the immortal words of the Lost in Space robot, “Danger Will Robinson, Danger!”  Here are the Chronicles of Bobby Petrino as he has created a land of ruin during his career path which can be better described as a path of destruction.  Pay heed before your school becomes, dare we say, Lost in Space…

  • At Louisville, in 2003, Petrino secretly interviewed for the Auburn job under the cover of darkness.  Taking the job would have meant stabbing the man (Tuberville) in the back who resurrected his career and hired him at Auburn as an offensive coordinator – but Petrino was obviously more than cool with that.
  • In 2004, Louisville twice renegotiated his contract after Petrino met with LSU and turned down the Oakland Raiders, giving him huge raises in the hopes of keeping him.  Each time he received a raise, Petrino promised Louisville no, really, this time I’ll stop looking for another job.  For real this time…
  • On 7/13/06, Petrino signed a 10 yr, 25.6 million dollar contract with Louisville.  He then lied to the Louisville AD about leaving and then summarily took the Atlanta Falcons job on 1/7/07.  This was far more despicable than what Saban did to Miami and was poorly received nationally.
  • On 12/11/07, Petrino then lied to Arthur Blank, the owner of the Falcons, and he left the Falcons with three games left in his first (and only) season with the team.  You may remember this was the Michael Vick dog killing year so the going got tough for the Falcons and Petrino got going, and quickly.  Prior to Petrino taking the Arkansas job, the Falcons GM  denied Petrino permission to talk to the Hogs but of course that didn’t stop him.  The day before Petrino took the Arkansas job, in an hour-long meeting with Falcons owner Arthur Blank, Petrino insisted to Blank he was staying.  The next day he then left the team a note and took off for Arkansas.  The Atlanta players officially found out when Petrino held a late night press conference in Fayetteville and then they found the note in their lockers the next day.  Arthur Blank said the best way to describe Petrino’s departure is betrayal.  Grady Jackson said the whole episode “showed Petrino’s true colors, like a coward with a yellow stripe down his back.”  When Petrino took the Arkansas job and addressed the media, Falcons QB Joey Harrington said, “He preached team and he preached family and then he quit on us.  To have him talk about family, about team, about commitment, then come in here and have a form letter at your locker, that’s not a man’s act.  That’s how a coward acts.”

And now, here’s the timeline of the entire Jessica Dorrell incident which took place at Arkansas this year:

  • March 28, 2012:  Petrino announced the hiring of Jessica Dorrell.  He, pardon the pun, ram-rodded this hire thru the committee and chose her over far more qualified candidates.  Now we know why.   
  • April 1, 2012:  Bobby was involved in a single vehicle (motorcycle) accident.  In a statement to his boss (the AD), Petrino stated that the accident involved no other individuals.  The Arkansas AD Jeff Long asked if Petrino was SURE there is nothing more to this story.  Petrino said there was nothing more to the story.  The AD then issued an official statement from the University of Arkansas stating the accident “involved no other individuals.”     
  • April 5, 2012:  Four days later, we learned that Petrino was not alone on the motorcycle.  Turned out, he was accompanied on his motorcycle by Dorrell, the woman he just hired a week ago.  Oh, and she was engaged.  Suddenly the statement that Arkansas issued on Monday is called into question.  Was it a cover-up by the AD?  By the University?  Why was it announced by the school that there were no other individuals involved?    
  • April 5, 2012:  Later that evening, the Arky AD threw together a press conference that Petrino didn’t attend.  There, in a written statement, Petrino admitted to an inappropriate relationship with Dorrell.  The AD said he’d placed Bobby on administrative leave while he investigated the crash and his relationship with Dorrell.  At this point, no one had tied together her hiring by Bobby and the fact he was banging her.  The AD asked Bobby, is there anything else you need to tell me?  Nope.  Once the Arkansas media latched on to the story, the details came pouring out, making Long look like a fool.  He had no choice but to fire the man who’d lied to him at every turn.
  • Petrino lied to the AD when he hired Dorrell.  He lied to the AD when he had the crash.  He then lied to the AD the next day when Long visited Petrino in the hospital.  He hid the affair and a 20K Christmas gift when she was hired and, of course, this made Arkansas vulnerable to a sexual harassment suit.  Thanks Bobby.
  • Petrino lied to his boss about the crash, then about his relationship to Dorrell and eventually it all came out when the media began looking into it.  Petrino has lied to every single boss he’s ever had and has never, ever been a man of his word – to his employers or to his family.

Then, there’s this little nugget taken from a 9/24/12 article from’s Eric Crawford after Petrino was fired from Arkansas:

Away from the lines, Petrino was never a warm and fuzzy presence. Players interacted largely with their position coaches. Fear was a powerful motivator. Petrino was known for violent outbursts of temper, and his criticism, while constructive, was painfully, brutally honest.

At the same time, there were rumblings after Petrino’s departure (from Louisville) that the coach had been too lax when it came to taking action on positive drug tests. The first positive test got you sent to drug counseling. The second got you a one-game suspension. The third got you a four-game suspension. Some later alleged that if there was a first, there usually was no testing done to risk a second or third. But attempts to get even aggregate records were not successful. Under Kragthorpe, players had a three-strike policy. First offense garnered a one-game suspension, counseling and mandatory testing for one year. The second positive got a 4-game suspension and enrollment in a treatment program, and a third got you dismissed.

Players started being dismissed in high numbers, including some who had people around the school scratching their heads, because they’d been otherwise good citizens. Nobody could divulge the real reason for many of the dismissals, though one source close to the program said, “They chose pot over their football futures.”

As a coach, Petrino has always won with an exciting high-octane offense, but at both Louisville and at Arkansas, he was unable to build a complete program–almost totally neglecting the defensive side of the ball–and he was unable to recruit well enough to create the depth that a team needs to sustain success year after year after year.  These deficiencies immediately bubbled to the surface after he left Louisville and when he was dismissed from Arkansas. You have to wonder if he had stayed at Louisville or Arkansas for a couple more years, would the neglection of key aspects of his program have caused his teams to crumble?  I guess we’ll never know.  What we do know is that when Petrino leaves a program, instead of erecting a statue they’ll have to resurrect his former program from ruin.


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