Jeff Pearlman

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Bobby Petrino and the Angel of Death

Even though they are usually big and strong and fast and manly and, outwardly, confident, college football players are still boys.

They’re kids—18-, 19-, 20-, 21-years old. They know nothing of the world, or how it works.  Thus far in their lives, they’ve been educated, primarily, via books and conversation. They have seen little; understand little. Hell, this isn’t reserved to athletes. Back when I was at the University of Delaware, I thought I knew everything—writing, women, the world. Truth is, I understood shit. Less than shit. Why? Because 99% of what I knew was stuff I’d been told. By teachers. By parents. By friends. By my brother. To truly grasp something, one needs to delve and undergo and feel and touch. It comes with rejection and success and embarrassment and euphoria.

Again, college football players are boys.

There is talk, with increased frequency, that Bobby Petrino will still be back coaching in the SEC. In particular, Auburn boosters are speaking loudly on his behalf; insisting the former Louisville and Arkansas (and Atlanta Falcons) head coach is the right man to revive an admittedly sad-sack program. Since winning the nation title two years ago, the Tigers have, to be blunt, sucked. They went 3-9 in 2012 (including a humbling 49-0 loss to No. 2 Alabam), and a so-so 8-5 the year before. As a result, coach Gene Chizik was canned.

Now, many supporters pine for Petrino.

Here’s the thing: Bobby Petrino is scum. No, he’s not merely scum. He’s scum beneath your shoe, mixed in with grime and old bubble gum and a couple of wads of bloody snot. He’s a used car salesman, fired, then re-named “Lenny” and hired to operate a shell game on the corner of 110th and Broadway. He’s a man you wouldn’t trust to babysit your kids; to walk your dog; to open your refrigerator without stealing an extra Dr. Pepper. He is—in a profession of slimes who have no problem getting rich off the blood and sweat of young, used, poorly educated minorities—the worst of the worst of the worst. Quite literally, were I sitting in a Starbucks and in need of a bathroom, I would not trust Bobby Petrino to watch my laptop for three minutes.

In case you’re uneducated in the ways of Petrino:

On December 10, 2007, a mere 13 games into his first season coaching the Atanta Falcons, Petrino quit to accept the Arkansas job. He informed his players via a four-sentence laminated note left at their lockers. Said Joey Harrington, the team’s backup quarterback at the time: “He preached team and he preached family and then he quit on us. That’s not what a man does. He lied to us. After that Monday night game, he told us we all need to go home and take a look in the mirror and see what we can do to make this organization better.”

• In April 2012, Petrino—coaching the Razorbacks—was involved in a motorcycle crash. Sitting on the back of his bike was Jessica Dorrell, a former star volleyball player at the school who worked as the team’s student-athlete development coordinator. Petrino had hired Dorrell for the job, even though she was, at best, moderately qualified. Petrino initially lied and said he was alone on the bike—then ultimately admitted that Dorrell was a passenger. And, oh, he was cheating on his wife with her. And, oh, she was engaged. And, oh, he had repeatedly lied about their relationship. (Former Falcons cornerback Lawyer Milloy called it all “karma.”)

Petrino later told ESPN that he “takes responsibility for his actions,” which translates—in scumbag coach speak—to, “Flippin’ fuck, I was caught, my career is down the shitter and I need to do something.”

The college or university that hires Bobby Petrino as a coach is saying, bluntly, “All we care about is winning. Not education, not character—winning. Only winning.”

That is not a school I’d ever want to be associated with.

  • Zeke

    Excellent synopsis of what I’ve been saying for a long, LONG time. If you hire Bobby Petrino, you will soon be a programmatic mess and sorry.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life