It didn’t take long for Arkansas football fans to turn on head coach Houston Nutt when allegations of an affair surfaced in 2006.
Now Razorbacks head coach Bobby Petrino is under fire for an admitted ”inappropriate relationship” with a recently-hired employee — and fans are rallying to his defense.
Ah, what winning will get you in Southeastern Conference football.
A Facebook group calling itself “Team Petrino” has organized a rally in support of the embattled coach to be held Monday night on campus. The objective: to “save our coach.” By 11:30 a.m. Monday, the group had more than 8,800 members.
But as details of Petrino’s motorcycle crash last week continue to surface, his future prospects in Fayetteville are becoming increasingly bleak.
Petrino, 51, crashed his motorcycle on the night of Sunday, April 1 in Madison County, Ark. But only days later, after police reports were made public, did he acknowledge 25-year-old Jessica Dorrell was with him on the bike. On Thursday, Petrino — who is married with four children — was placed on paid administrative leave by the school and admitted a “previous inappropriate relationship” with Dorrell, a former Arkansas volleyball player and recent hire by the athletic department.
On Friday, more details of the accident emerged. According to state police reports, Petrino and Dorrell told a passer-by not to call 911, and instead caught a ride back to Fayetteville. There, Dorrell was dropped off at her own car and Petrino was driven to a hospital by Capt. Lance King, a police officer who serves as Petrino’s personal security guard during the season, where he was treated for broken ribs and a cracked vertebra.
“While the inquiries have no direct correlation to the investigations of the motor vehicle crash, the questions are legitimate and worthy of answers,” state police spokesman Bill Sadler said. He added that King has been asked to detail “his involvement with Coach Petrino and other individuals who’ve been identified within the crash investigation.”
Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long has not offered a timetable for the conclusion of his review of Petrino’s conduct and whether or not the coach will be allowed to return for the 2012 season. Taver Johnson is serving as the interim head coach as the Razorbacks continue their spring practices.
The team finished 11-2 in 2011 including a Cotton Bowl victory and its two losses came against national championship game contenders Alabama and LSU. With several key players returning, the Razorbacks appeared poised to contend in the SEC in 2012 and rank No. 11 in an ESPN preseason poll.
Will be Petrino be on the sideline this fall? And more importantly, does he deserve to be?
She the People: Petrino should have learned from Bill Clinton