College football's offseason. The final frontier. These are the musings of Free Form Friday. It's mission: to boldly make light of a situation that, when you get right down to it, isn't really very funny at all. [Theremin solo!!!!].
But because tragedy is when I cut my finger and comedy is when you fall through a sewer grate and die, we'll kill some time until the start of football season by examining the pigskin scandal du jour: Bobby Petrino reprising the Kelly McGillis motorcycle ride scene from Top Gun with disastrous results. Enjoy.
Maestro, cue the theme music for all the SEC football coaches and athletic department support staff who are in the midst of a very, very bad day. If that's you, here's whatcha gotta do, whether on a motorcycle twisting through the back roads of Arkansas or twisting in the wind while your Athletic Director considers whether a trip to the Sugar Bowl every once in a while is really worth all this*:
So here's the deal. Up until this point it's been a pretty quiet offseason in the SEC. Gene Chizik said some funny stuff about Will Muschamp. Nick Saban got a contract that made Mike Hampton take a break from icing his elbow long enough to say "Holy crap! That guy may be getting paid more than he's worth.**" But all in all, not a lot happening. Until Bobby Petrino decided to take a little Sunday afternoon motorcycle ride. Like some beady-eyed Paul Revere of northwest Arkansas, the Head Hawg set out on his Hawg, intent on enjoying the rhythmic thumping of the road before returning to his various responsibilities.
Then everything went really wrong. And now the people who are paying the greatest price are, as usual, completely innocent of wrongdoing. Petrino's wife and children. Dorrell's fiance and family. Let this be a lesson to you, potential philanderers of the Natural State. The only safe way to go is a padded room with no cameras in an abandoned mental hospital which you arrive at separately. I know it's kind of a mood killer, but given the extremes of weather and poor road quality you have to contend with, it's really the only way to keep from having to give a joint statement to the police. Oh, and wear a helmet, Coach. Safety first.
I have to admit something here: I've long suspected Bobby Petrino of being a bit of a dick. There. I said it. One of us opining on this particular interpersonal train wreck needed to. From entertaining overtures regarding the Auburn job while it was still filled, leaving Atlanta in the middle of the night and leaving only a note in players' lockers, to getting pissy at Les Miles for doing the most Bobby Petrino thing ever, there's a certain pattern of behavior which I have come to associate with the guy. And while it's impossible to really say you dislike someone whom you've never met, I feel confident enough in saying that Bobby Petrino seems like the type of shiftless asshat who would be easy not to like. I think that's part of the reason this thing has sprouted legs and run through the blogosphere like Joe Adams on a skinny post.
All that having been said, with no further ado, I present the exhaustive compendium of jokes, observations, and double entendres which ran through my head and Twitter feed in the past 24 hours regarding Bobby Petrino's midnight ride, presented as a sort of cathartic power point, after which I will hopefully never speak of this incident again:
- This is easily the most Arkansas scandal ever. Clint Stoerner and Matt Jones would totally approve of Bobby Petrino taking Arkansas to the brink of SEC football relevance only to stumble over his own . . .feet.
The whole thing would have been a lot more fun if Petrino had former UCLA coach Karl Dorrell riding around on his bike. The guys at Bruin Nation would have kicked the damned thing over themselves, and probably lit it on fire. No witnesses. No evidence. No accident. Just Bobby Petrino wondering up to a farmhouse bleeding and telling a disjointed and flimsy story about a coyote attack. So, so much simpler.
- Other possible Free Form musical selections this week: "Midnight Rider", "Ticket To Ride", and the entire soudtrack of "Easy Rider." Really it was like shooting fish in a barrel.
- The affair itself is not the big issue for Arkansas AD Jeff Long. The big issue is that Bobby Petrino is admitting to an "inappropriate relationship" with a young woman who may have been a university student when the thing started (Dorrell received her U of A MBA in 2010 and undergrad degree in 2008), and whom Petrino recently hired to work for the football program. That is inappropriate in most any workplace. Additionally there's the fact that Petrino is only now owning up to the fact that there was a passenger with him. Lying to the cops is always bad, but lying to your employer and allowing them to go live with a totally inaccurate press release as a result isn't a whole lot better. It's never the crime that gets you, it's the scheme to cover it up. #Watergate'd, #Lewinsky'd, #Tressel'd, #PonyExpress'd . . . .
- Would you look at that! SB Nation's Jason Kirk just happens to have the University of Arkansas employment handbook's section on "quid pro quo sexual harrasment" right here. He's like a wizard that way. A wizard whose only weakness is the inability to help the Braves conjure a shred of offense.
- Odds that the "unknown persons" who happened by and picked Petrino and Dorrell up on the side of the road before the cops arrived are University of Arkansas boosters? 3:2. Odds that one of them looks and sounds exactly like Buddy Garrity? 5:2. How would such an individual be identified? If only there were a way to find out who state employees call on their state-issued cellphones. Wait a sec . .
- How long until some of those famously inquisitive Arkansas boosters start sending Open Records requests for Petrino and Dorrell's cellphone records? Or is that treatment reserved for allegedly philandering coaches who only win 8 games for the Razorbacks?
- Comparisons to Rick Pitino's situation are, in my mind, "inappropriate" in a different way. Did Pitino have an illicit relationship? It would appear so. But not with a direct subordinate. Especially not one recently hired by Pitino who is half his age. Fairly or not, those variables are a huge key here.
- Marion Campbell and Dan Henning also habitually refer to their time with the Falcons as "an inappropriate relationship." Jerry Glanville on the other hand just jerks his thumb over his shoulder toward his Maui beachhouse which is an exact replica of Graceland.
- Jessica Dorrell's fiance deserves all the bourbon you can buy him right now. I don't know what Mrs. Petrino's poison is, but you should pick one up for her, too.
- Petrino of course did not appear at the University's late night press conference, instead offering a written statement then leaving campus. I for one am shocked that former Falcons coach Bobby Petrino of all people would take the chickenshit way out of an uncomfortable position. Totally didn't see that coming. I've heard that he may have been a no show because of embarrassing facial injuries. BS, if I've learned one thing as a lawyer it's that people who show up to the proceedings looking like they went 3 rounds with a sausage grinder generally get a bit of a pass. He could have just read his statement and refused to take questions. That would have been marginally understandable given the fluctuating situation. But to simply provide a written statement was, behind running up the score, the second most Petrino thing ever.
- While Hawg-gate was unfolding, the news also dropped that 3 more TCU football players are being formally charged as part of a drug distribution investigation by Fort Worth police. This means that the 2012 Fulmer Cup is essentially over, unless and until simply being Bobby Petrino becomes punishable under the Geneva Convention.
- Also, the fact that I flipped through all 5,289 ESPN channels I have in my cable package and still couldn't find the press conference is mind-boggling. Right up there with the WWL getting scooped by CNN on the Paterno resignation. Instead, I was treated to college baseball and Frozen Four highlights. Again ESPN loves their own original programming way more than they care about covering actual sports news.
Feel free to discuss your gnawing case of Hawgenfreude in the comments. Or choose your own topics if you've already OD'ed on the whole spectacle. The choice is yours. Until later . . .
*By the way if this is the first time you've heard Alabama Shakes, rest assured it won't be the last. They've been out on the road supporting the Drive-By Truckers, Nico Case is a big fan, and their debut album came out yesterday. Give 'em a listen if they come to your town, and buy their music if you have some cash to spare. You won't be disappointed.
*Totally not true. Mike Hampton thinks Starbucks baristas make $200k a year and tips the teenager who cuts his lawn with Range Rovers. If you were a Braves season ticket holder from 2004-2009, little Billy Gynezcki thanks you.