Updated: Bobby Petrino placed on administrative leave

65 Comments

What began as a one-man motorcycle accident has turned into a full-fledged scandal with Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino.

The result of that scandal — for now — has resulted in Petrino being placed on paid administrative leave while his future with the program rests in the hands of his boss, athletic director Jeff Long.

Long called a press conference at just before 10 p.m. this evening to address the new details surrounding Petrino’s motorcycle accident on Sunday, which include the revelation that a female passenger, UA football employee Jennifer Dorrell, was on the bike during the accident.

Previous statements by both Petrino and UA claimed the coach was the only person involved in the incident. Dorrell was previously a volleyball player for UA and later worked for the Razorbacks Foundation. She was promoted student-athlete development coordinator for football late last month.

In a statement released this evening, Petrino acknowledged a “previously inappropriate relationship”, but didn’t expand much beyond that.

Below is Petrino’s statement in its entirety. Petrino was not present at the press conference and was seen leaving campus earlier this evening.

“The state police report provides an accurate description of my accident, which includes details that had not publicly come to light prior to the report being issued. I regret that I have not publicly acknowledged a passenger on the vehicle. I have been in constant pain, medicated and the circumstances involving the wreck have come out in bits and pieces. That said I certainly had a concern about Jessica Dorrell’s name being revealed. In my press conference, I referred to her simply as “a lady.” My concern was to protect my family and a previous inappropriate relationship from becoming public. In hindsight, I showed a serious mistake in judgment when I chose not to be more specific about those details. Today, I’ve acknowledged this previous inappropriate relationship with my family and those within the athletic department administration.

“I apologize to my wife, Becky, and our four children, Chancellor (David) Gearhart, Jeff Long, the Board of Trustees, University administration, my coaching staff, student-athletes and the entire state of Arkansas. I have been humbled by the outpouring of concern and get well wishes. I apologize to the Razorback Nation for the attention my actions have brought to the University of Arkansas and our program. I will fully cooperate with the University throughout this process and my hope is to repair my relationships with my family, my Athletic Direction, the Razorback Nation and remain the head coach of the Razorbacks.”

That last line will be determined after Long finishes an internal review of the matter. Long said this evening he received a phone call from coach Petrino at around 3:12 this afternoon with “information he had not previously shared. That information was that there was another passenger on the motorcycle” which was identified to be Dorrell.

Long then said he met with Petrino at about 7:15 this evening, during which time Petrino admitted he had not been completely forthcoming with all the information regarding the Sunday accident. At about 8:30, Long explained that he placed Petrino on paid administrative leave until the review is completed. Assistant coach Taver Johnson will be the program’s interim coach.

“We have high expectations for our coaches… certainly I’m disappointed,” Long said. “I brought him [Petrino] here.”

The AD admitted he was “surprised” that Petrino had not been completely forthcoming about the details of the motorcycle accident. Whether that surprise results in Petrino’s termination remains to be seen. There is a part of Petrino’s contract that specifies the coach could be terminated or punished for “engaging in conduct, as solely determined by the University, which is clearly contrary to the character and responsibilities of a person occupying the position of Head Football Coach or which negatively or adversely affects the reputation of the University or UAF’s athletics programs in any way.”

Based on that language, Petrino could have been fired four years ago for the way he left the Atlanta Falcons.

“Trust is important in any relationship,” Long said.

And Petrino has compromised the trust of many on a personal and professional level with this latest lie.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts uses photo of Clemson celebrating title win as motivational phone background

Getty Images
1 Comment

Nick Saban said last week that the loss to Clemson in the the national championship game earlier this year is one that he’ll never get over, although he didn’t go so far as to compare it to a death in the family. One playing member of Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team is taking to steps to ensure that he never forgets, either.

Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s talented true freshman starting quarterback who helped lead ‘Bama into the title game and, with a 30-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left, gave his team a 31-28 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Deshaun Watson led his Tigers on an epic 88-yard drive that was capped by his two-yard touchdown pass with just one tick left on the clock for the 35-31 win.

The stunning last-second loss is something that Hurts makes a conscious effort to remind himself of daily as the rising sophomore, as the background on his smartphone, has a picture of Clemson players celebrating their win.

“We’re obviously all on our phones all the time,” Hurts said according to al.com after this past weekend’s spring game. “Every time I unlock it, it’s kind of a reminder. It kind of humbles me and keeps me motivated. …

“It’s not a grudge at all. It’s just something that keeps it on the back of your shoulder like, yeah, it’s still there. Remember why you’re doing it because at the end of the day, the goal for this team is to win the national championship.

Father of former Florida State WR Travis Rudolph killed in accidental shooting

Getty Images
1 Comment

The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.

The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.

“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

Getty Images
1 Comment

LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.