Unlike most reporters, I like Bobby Petrino. I really do. I had very good rapport with him in his year as Auburn's offensive coordinator. On the day he left for Louisville, I was the only reporter to whom he talked. After he went to Arkansas, I was the first reporter to have a one-on-one interview with him in his office, even before anyone from the state of Arkansas.
Senior Editor Phillip Marshall
But it has become clear over the past decade that Petrino has a problem with the truth.
When the trip by a group of Auburn trustees administrators in 2003 to talk to Petrino, then he head coach at Louisville, about the possibility of replacing Tommy Tuberville was exposed, Petrino looked Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich in the eye and told him it didn't happen. He lied.
He followed his ego to the NFL and left the Atlanta Falcons before his first and only season was over.
And now this.
Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident Sunday, suffering broken ribs and abrasions. He was fortunate to survive. What Petrino didn't say was that a 25-year-old female athletic department employee who answered directly to him was on the motorcycle with him. He lied to reporters, which is something we come to expect. But he also lied to Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long just like he lied to Jurich nine years ago.
Amazingly, Petrino must have thought he'd get away with it. But once the accident report was released, it was right there in black and white for all to see.
Petrino, married and a father of four, issued a statement Thursday night apologizing and admitting an "inappropriate relationship" with Jessica Dorrell, who is engaged to another athletic department employee. Long put him on administrative leave and said he would decide what action to take after a close examination of the facts.
Long is an extraordinarily difficult spot.
Petrino has taken Arkansas football to unprecedented heights in the Southeastern Conference. The Razorbacks are considered a legitimate national championship contender for next season.
But the suspended coach is now an admitted liar and philanderer. How does he talk to his players about using good judgment when he has displayed the worst kind of judgment both in an "inappropriate relationship" with a lady young enough to be his daughter and then lying about it?
Long said it will be his call, but it's not realistic to believe he will make it without consulting the power brokers in Arkansas athletics. Do they have the courage to do the right thing and tell Petrino his services are no longer needed?
It'll be fascinating to watch.