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Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino missing 'class'

Petrino is the poster child for brazen. Hiring your girlfriend for a job in the football program is bad enough, but when you're married and she's engaged, it's much worse.
by Berry Tramel Published: April 8, 2012
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Bobby Petrino has made a mess of things at Arkansas.

Do you know how much of a screwup you have to be to win big at a football-crazy school, steer clear of NCAA scandal and still lose your job?

That fate could befall Petrino, who would already be gone had his Razorbacks not gone 21-5 the last two seasons, the best two-year record in the Ozarks since Ken Hatfield went 20-4 in 1988-89.

Petrino is the poster child for brazen. Hiring your girlfriend for a job in the football program is bad enough, but when you're married and she's engaged, it's much worse.

Of course, ride a motorcycle without a helmet, and you're a thrill-seeker of some sort anyway.

When Petrino crashed his cycle with 25-year-old Jessica Dorrell aboard, a week after giving her a job in the program, he jeopardized his career.

Even success-starved fan bases — Petrino last season produced the Razorbacks' first top-five national finish in 33 years and the year before that produced the Hogs' first major bowl trip in 23 years — have their limits.

Getting away with stuff seems to be standard behavior with Petrino. To his credit, I suppose, that hasn't translated into NCAA investigations.

But lying to your boss, embarrassing your school, embarrassing your state, all of which Petrino accomplished last week, seem to be no less outrageous.

No one from Petrino's previous stops — Auburn, Louisville, the NFL Falcons — is too surprised. After all, while head coach at Louisville, Petrino interviewed for the Auburn job, even though the Auburn job wasn't open. He left the Falcons before their 2007 season was over, without telling his players.

Scruples are not a strong point for Petrino.

Petrino has compromised the integrity of Arkansas hiring practices and its chain of command. Universities long ago gave in on the incredulous salaries of football coaches (Petrino makes $3.6 million a year), but they haven't necessarily given in on the most basic requirements of behavior.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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