Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Petrino still coaching, cussing, fussing
Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino speaks during a news conference in Fayetteville on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, after being released from a hospital.
FAYETTEVILLE - Last week’s Sports Illustrated article on Bobby Petrino is less an indictment on Petrino’s lack of character than on a lack of character pervading college athletics and its sponsoring universities.
Petrino simply is what he is — an offensive football genius and a bully. Bullies generally take the max allowed them. As a college head football coach at Louisville, Arkansas, Western Kentucky and now Louisville, again, Bobby Petrino was, and apparently still is, allowed plenty.
The plenty includes routinely inflicting verbal abuse with the mother of all F-bombs. During his Arkansas tenure, the article states that among themselves some working in Razorbacks football related endeavors referred to the coach by the initials “BMFP.”
The MF initialed between Bobby and Petrino seems self explanatory.
Petrino’s Arkansas bosses looked away just like his Louisville bosses did years ago and likely do now. A winning football coach’s transgressions tend to be ignored and or excused.
CBS was at fault in 2011, Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long said then, for showing Petrino screaming the MF-word at LSU Coach Les Miles near the end of LSU’s resounding victory.
Frankly, better that these coaching divas drop F-bombs upon each other than upon office staff and food service staff not in economic position to retort.
At Arkansas, Petrino’s bosses ceased looking away only when Petrino’s conduct became too publicly egregious, outed by crashing his motorcycle with the woman aboard later learned to be his mistress whom he had recently hired to a position on the football staff.
Violating UA policy by hiring your mistress to a staff position over far more qualified applicants after giving her a $20,000 gift just can’t be swept under the rug, even one woven in success.
It is an indictment of college football’s win-at-nearly-any-cost state that some canonized Long for his no-choice Petrino firing.
In 2013, Western Kentucky ignored the egregious. It rented Petrino’s 1-year return.
Now it’s Louisville, where Petrino first won big and first left in a shambles to bolt to the Atlanta Falcons, from where he bolted for Arkansas, invites him back.
“College sports are a business first and foremost,” University of Louisville Board of Trustees member Jonathan Blue told SI of rubber-stamping Petrino’s Louisville return.
If indeed “college sports are a business first and foremost,” then truly treat them and their coaching divas like business.
There always will be a certain locker room latitude unique to athletics correction and motivation, but how many businesses would daily tolerate an employee routinely barraging students and other employees with MF-bombs?
Football coaches tend to be a university’s highest-paid employee, and if they are really successful, they make universities the most revenue.
But they are not remotely a university’s biggest asset to mankind.
Med school researchers work on cures for cancer. Their agriculture researchers work on feeding an overpopulated planet. Against all odds, in our twits-who-tweet society, university instructors teach students that using Internet slang gets you a term paper F today and a job resume F tomorrow.
Yet from all these truly important folks we demand and expect civility as we should.
It’s the least we should demand and expect from a football coach.