Like just about every other cover-up, the bits and pieces of the Bobby Petrino story keep surfacing.
What started as a one-man accident turned into a two-person accident, the other person being 25-year-old Jessica Dorrell, who works in Arkansas’ football offices. That turned into further curiosity surrounding police officer Lance King, who transported Petrino to the hospital that day and works security during football season.
Now, there are questions surrounding the individuals who transported Petrino and Dorrell from the accident scene to an intersection where Dorrell left in her own vehicle and King picked up Petrino.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is said to have eight reporters — eight — working on the Petrino story. In Saturday’s online addition of the paper, the ADG uncovered a few more details of the accident. It’s behind a paywall, and Chris Bahn of ArkansasSports360 provides a couple of blurbs.
They are as follows:
*A state trooper that was dispatched to the accident scene was scheduled to do a fugitive pickup. He dropped that to go to an accident scene that we now know included a wrecked motorcycle, but not the people who wrecked.
*Initially, the couple that transported Petrino and Dorrell from the scene — to a rendezvous point with State Police Capt. Lance King — told reporters that Petrino was alone. Only after seeing the accident report did they admit Dorrell was in the car. Family members are now acting as spokespeople for the couple, who seem to have gone into hiding.
By all accounts, the details of the aftermath of the accident are still a bit muddled, but here’s what the story means so far:
- The questioning of Capt. King is important for two reasons. One, and more obviously, he was directly involved in transporting Petrino to the hospital. Was he called by Petrino? Did King know Dorrell was with him? If so, why wasn’t Dorrell included in the initial police statement on Monday? Did King know of any prior inappropriate relationship or quid pro quo? Two, and more indirectly, there is, at minimum, a prior connection between Long and Petrino because of King’s job in security for UA.
- As far as the people who drove Petrino and Dorrell from the accident are concerned, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to think Petrino told them they never saw Dorrell. The 911 call released Friday mentioned both Petrino and Dorrell asked that 911 not be called. Or, maybe the couple kept quiet on their own. That’s possible too.
- The idea that Petrino could be having an affair with a coworker is compelling, but as many of you have mentioned, that’s his private life. True, but Petrino made his private life public when he went for a ride Sunday evening with Dorrell. And, as is usually the case, the cover-up is what gets the attention.
- If Petrino did have a previous inappropriate relationship with Dorrell, that’s not really grounds for termination by itself. What could is lying to athletic director Jeff Long because Arkansas released a statement with inaccurate information, and if a police officer is involved, it only magnifies the lie. If the police report hadn’t been released, we may not have ever known about Dorrell because I can’t think of one person who’d believe Petrino would have said a thing.
- Which leads me to this: if you’re Jeff Long, you have to swallow the fact that your employee withheld information from you* and potentially hired someone with whom he was already having an inappropriate relationship. All in a week. And was okay with it — at least okay with it enough not to say anything until he had to. That’s a lot of distrust and it’s not like Petrino came to Fayetteville with a squeaky-clean record. The fact of the matter is that while potential infidelity only affects Petrino, Dorrell and their respective families, the cover-up had a greater ripple effect that has carried over into the professional lives of others.
- That said, firing Petrino isn’t the only option. He can be suspended without pay, so Long doesn’t necessarily have to make an all-or-nothing decision. But, if I was Long, I’d fire Petrino for putting myself and UA in the situation we’re in right now.
- I also don’t have the obligation of maintaining a winning football program with boosters breathing down my neck. So there’s that.
(*there have been retorts that Petrino was drugged up/in shock after his accident, so his initial account could have been compromised. Very possible, but he came down well enough to give a Tuesday press conference… where he also withheld information.)