Jeff Long

Making the case to keep Bobby Petrino


Tomorrow — or, if you’re reading this Sunday morning, today — marks one week since Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino was in a motorcycle accident with UA football employee Jessica Dorrell. And for the past few days since a police report exposed what points to being an affair with Dorrell, there have been numerous calls for Petrino’s resignation/firing.

Some think Petrino didn’t uphold a moral or ethical standard that’s expected of him, but the consensus is that the more significant crime is the cover up that spilled over to the workplace. Petrino lied to his boss, athletic director Jeff Long (pictured), by withholding information about Dorrell and put UA in an HR bind by possibly committing a quid pro quo with Dorrell, who was hired to her current job on March 28.

That sounds like beyond reasonable grounds for termination to me, but admittedly, I’m sitting behind a computer screen in Texas. If the decision to fire Petrino was that easy, it would have been done by now.

Long said Thursday night when he placed Petrino on paid administrative leave that he would go through a deliberate review of the situation before making a conclusion. On Saturday, a UA spokesperson released a statement from Long, which states the following:

“The [Petrino] review is ongoing and will continue throughout the weekend.”

So, what’s Long thinking about? Take a look at an article by Chris Bahn of ArkansasSports360 (Here’s a link)It might be the most spot-on glance to date into what Long is considering as he deliberates whether he should can Petrino or not.

This goes beyond the $3.56 million Arkansas has invested in Petrino annually until 2017. That’s pocket change compared to the other financials that have to be considered.

Even without actually winning a BCS bowl, the SEC or the SEC West, Petrino has managed to increase fan buy-in, something that has helped the Razorback football program see a 59-percent increase in value since 2009. Forbes estimated last year that Arkansas football is valued at $89 million.

Don’t forget the substantial investment Long and Arkansas have in Petrino’s football operations center. Shortly after being hired Petrino began asking for a new facility, one that began with a $20 million estimate, but has now grown to $40 million (and climbing).

Construction has begun on the 80,000-square foot facility. Fundraising is ongoing.

Keep this in mind: just because money is pledged for the facility doesn’t mean the UA has the cash in hand. Bonds were purchased so construction could begin, but the debt for the building isn’t totally covered.

Petrino’s value to the program is more than just 8.5 wins per year in the toughest division in college football. It’s the wealth of everything that goes along with those wins.

But does that give Petrino freedom to do what he wants?

As a boss, it has to be a disheartening feeling to know your employee lied/withheld important information from you — yes, it was important; see Arkansas’ release on Monday — and was perfectly content doing so. It has to be equally frustrating to think Petrino would hire someone he was possibly fooling around with.

That’s a lot of dishonesty at one time. If Long could get rid of Petrino and not lose a beat in fundraising efforts while being simultaneously guaranteed a capable replacement to lead the Hogs into the future, there’s no doubt he would.

It’s not that simple.

Long is facing a business decision, and while Petrino’s actions have more than merited a firing, doing so without considering the cost of the alternative would be an emotional decision. Last time someone at UA made an emotional decision, he and his 25-year-old subordinate got in a motorcycle accident.

So what Long has to weigh is the worth of success vs. the worth of trust. I don’t know the answer, but I sure as hell know I do not envy Long for being forced to figure it out.

Senior vote to determine SEC Championship status for suspended Gators WR Demarcus Robinson

Demarcus Robinson
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Just hours before kicking off against in-state rival Florida State, Florida announced wide receiver Demarcus Robinson had been suspended for the game for a violation of a unspecified team rule. Now, as the Gators prepare to take on Alabama in this week’s SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, the status of Robinson has yet to be determined. Florida head coach Jim McElwain says he will leave Robinson’s fate in the hands of his teammates, or at least the seniors.

“I’m going to visit with the seniors. They’ll determine which direction we’ll go,” McElwain said Monday, according to The Gainesville Sun.

“Look, he made a choice, OK. He made a choice,” McElwain said. “You know what, our family needs to make this decision and those guys are the leaders of our family.”

McElwain’s leaving a player’s fate up to the team is certainly not unprecedented. Les Miles of LSU was criticized at length for allowing the fate of players be handled by a team vote. There are pros and cons to allowing such decisions be handled in such a manner, and there may be no right way to go about it. On one hand, a coach allowing players to make these types of decisions may show trust in a team’s leaders, which can be good for morale and establishing trust. On the other hand, it may lead to players having their way and being disgruntled with a coach’s decision if they do not get a say. Of course, McElwian already stepped his foot down for the Florida State game.

Robinson is Florida’s second-leading receiver with 505 yards and two touchdowns this season.

UCF hires Oregon OC Scott Frost to be head coach

Chip Kelly, Scott Frost

Tuesday morning will start with one fewer coaching vacancy to fill. Multiple reports Tuesday morning say UCF will hire Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost to fill its role as head coach of the Knights.

Frost was a part of two national championship teams as a player for Nebraska under Tom Osborne. His coaching career began in 2002 with the Huskers as a graduate assistant and continued as a graduate assistant four years later at Kansas State. After two seasons as an assistant coach with Northern Iowa, Frost joined Chip Kelly’s coaching staff at Oregon as a wide receivers coach. He has worked and played for a number of football-rich minds like Bill Walsh, Osborne, Bill Parcells, Bill Bellichick, Jon Gruden and Chip Kelly. After Kelly left Oregon for the NFL in 2013, Frost was given a promotion to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after Mark Helfrich received a promotion to head coach in Eugene. This will be Frost’s first job as a head coach, but he has been a rising name among coordinators and it was only a matter of time before he landed a head coaching job.

Frost will be taking over a UCF program coming off a season with a record of 0-12, but the potential for a quick rebuild is in place with the kind of talent pool UCF can tap into in the state of Florida. Remember, UCF won a Fiesta Bowl just two seasons ago, which is evidence you can win meaningful games with the program. With Frost bringing Oregon’s offensive flair into the state of Florida, UCF could become dangerous quite quickly, and that could easily lead to UCF being a top contender in the Group of Five, if not just the American Athletic Conference.

That Orlando bar may not have to be giving away too many more free beers in 2016, although here’s hoping they come up with a nice little advertising campaign for some Frosty beverages.

UPDATE (9:34 a.m.): UCF has made the official announcement to introduce Frost as its new head coach.

Bud Foster says he is too invested in Virginia Tech to leave Hokies

Bud Foster

For years there was a thought that Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster would one day be the successor to longtime head coach Frank Beamer. With Beamer announcing his decision to retire at the end of the season, there was never any word about Foster being handed the keys to the program. Instead, Virginia Tech has found a coach with an offensive identity in the hiring of Justin Fuente from Memphis. Given the way coaching changes can tend to go, nobody would have blamed Foster for being a tad miffed at not getting the job in Blacksburg, but he will remain the defensive coordinator of the Hokies as a key member of Fuente’s new staff. He says he has put in too much work to leave now.

“I’m rooted in here. We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears in this place,” Foster said Monday. “It wasn’t hard. I wouldn’t have stayed here for as long as I’ve had if I didn’t feel like we had the opportunity to win at the highest level. I feel that more than ever right now.”

Fuente being able to keep Foster on the staff is a huge advantage. Foster not only ensures Fuente will have a dependable coach managing the defense, which should remain one of the top defensive units in the ACC as long as he stays put. Keeping Foster on the staff also allows for some tremendous stability during the transition, which can always be key when a coach with no previous ties to the university takes over a program. Foster can help Fuente get acclimated to his new surroundings and also keep valuable recruiting ties alive and well during the change.

Foster acknowledged he would love to one day be a head coach, and that dream will continue, but for now he is more interested in contributing at Virginia Tech.

“I always wanted to be a head coach. This would be a dream job. I’m happy with where I am. I’ll never be bitter. I won’t cry myself to sleep wishing “what-ifs” and they type of thing. My goal is to be the best football coach I can possibly be. I want to help this program be the best football program it can possibly be.”

Maryland wasting no time getting in touch with Mark Richt

Mark Richt

On Monday morning Georgia head coach Mark Richt said he was absolutely going to continue coaching even though his days at Georgia are coming to an end. If that is the case, Maryland would like to make that a reality for Richt.

According to a report from Inside MD Sports, Maryland has made first contact with Richt and a meeting could come as soon as tomorrow. Maryland is looking to fill a head coaching vacancy after firing Randy Edsall during the season. Richt will not be the only potential candidate to interview for the Maryland job. The Washington Post reported Monday interim head coach Mike Locksley was also given a chance to interview for the job on a permanent basis. That interview was reportedly set to happen Monday.

It would make sense for Maryland to make a call to Richt. With Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank looking to help build the Maryland program, there are sufficient funds to make a splashy hire for the program, which is showing signs of a well-structured future with plans to improve the football program. The Maryland job has some good potential in the long-term and competes in the same division as some tough opponents. That would include at least two coaches Richt is very familiar with; Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Penn State’s James Franklin. Richt faced Meyer when the Buckeyes head coach was at Florida, and Franklin of course coached at Vanderbilt. All three were in the same SEC East Division down south. Could they be reunited in the Big Ten East in 2016?

Whatever the case may be, if Maryland can land Richt as its next head coach, it would be a tremendous hire for the Terrapins. Heck, he already has the attire for it.