Jeff Long the one getting cheated in Petrino scandal

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Sitting in front of rolling cameras and eager reporters tweeting away on their mobile devices, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long held what had to be the toughest press conference of his four years in Fayetteville.

His coach… his big hire… Bobby Petrino, had flat-out lied to him.

Petrino was involved in what was reported to be a one-man motorcycle accident on Sunday evening. A statement released by the university Monday assured the incident “involved no other individuals.” As we found out yesterday, that wasn’t the case. A police report mentioned that a female passenger by the name of Jessica Dorrell was on the motorcycle with Petrino when it crashed at approximately 6:45 on that fateful Sunday.

As far as anyone can infer, Dorrell flagged down help and Petrino was eventually admitted to a hospital while she was dropped off at her car so that she could leave, unharmed.

But what Dorrell lacked in bumps and bruises, Petrino more than made up for when he failed to inform Long or the media of Dorrell’s presence at the scene of the accident. In a few days, the focus shifted from relief that Petrino was going to be okay, to interest in new details not previously known.

And, so, Long called a press conference for 9:45 on Thursday night to address what couldn’t wait until morning. He walked in the room, sat down and clearly stated what he had heard from Petrino just hours before: that there was someone else, that the coach had not been completely forthcoming earlier in the week. Long didn’t make bad jokes wishing Petrino wouldn’t fire him, nor did he make excuses. He answered questions, but didn’t jump to conclusions about Petrino’s future. Instead, Long promised a deliberate review of the situation while Petrino was placed on paid administrative leave.

In short, Long handled it like a pro. That’s certainly more than you can say for Petrino, who has placed a wall of lies between him and his superior. And Petrino’s on the wrong side. Again.

Long deserves better than that, especially for facing the music when an employee could not. “Certainly I’m disappointed,” Long said. “I brought him [Petrino] here.”

He can ask the coach to leave too. Petrino’s contract with the University of Arkansas states the coach could be fired 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.”

But this is where the situation gets murky. Face value tells us Petrino violated some ethical conduct code by doing what many of us assume he’s doing — cheating on his wife with Dorrell. We don’t know that for sure — not yet, anyway — and Petrino has only referenced a “previous inappropriate relationship” that leaves a thing or two to the imagination, but it’s the details of “previous” and “relationship” that could get Petrino fired.

As ArkansasSports360 pointed out today, Dorrell, a former UA volleyball player, was hired as the new student-athlete development coordinator for football on March 28, four days before the April Fools’ Day motorcycle accident, and a week before Long sat at a podium realizing the prank had been played on him.

Long had been lied to by his coach and a woman with whom Petrino had a “previous inappropriate relationship” now had a job within the football program.

That’s cold. That’s “clearly contrary to the character and responsibilities of a person occupying the position of Head Football Coach.” That “negatively or adversely affects the reputation of the University.”

And, for that, Petrino probably should be fired.

Jim Tressel? Fired because he lied. Bruce Pearl? Fired because he lied. And just think: those coaches had leashes. Long hired Petrino in 2007 as the coach was evading verbal — and, perhaps in some cases, actual — Molotov cocktails on his way out of Atlanta and the Falcons organization.

Now, the other stuff? The “inappropriate” part of the relationship? It’s deplorable if true, but in no way does it affect Petrino’s ability to coach his players. Bobby Petrino was hired to do two things — three if you include staying out of NCAA trouble — win games and graduate his players. So far he’s done both.

Nowhere in Petrino’s contract does it state he has to be a good husband (and keep in mind, I’m not saying he did anything to break the sanctity of his marriage), or even be a good person. A former NFL player whose name escapes me now once said this about character:

“There are two kinds of character. Your off-the-field character, and the character you have with your teammates and coaches.”

There have been plenty of comments over the past day about what is “expected” of Petrino. First of all, if you “expected” anything from Petrino from an ethics standpoint to begin with, I’d check the magnets in your moral compass. But this isn’t about how Petrino acts in his private life, or whether he practices what he preaches. Rather, it’s about what is expected of him in a business environment.

“We have high expectations for our coaches,” Long explained.

Those are the expectations Petrino failed to meet for an athletic director who stuck his neck out and made a highly controversial hire early in his tenure.

Now, it’s Long who has to decide if success is enough to keep Petrino employed. It’s Long who has to contemplate if he can ever trust Petrino again.

It’s Long who’s getting cheated.

Adam Schefter: ‘strong conviction’ among people in the sport there will be college football this season

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It appears a pair of highly-criticized college football coaches have some company. Anonymous company, but company nonetheless.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy was roundly criticized when he argued that college coaches should get back to the business of football May 1, with players following shortly thereafter. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney took numerous shots when he very boldly claimed there’s no doubt the college football season would start on time.

OSU was forced to publicly address the kerfuffle kicked up by Gundy. An unapologetic Swinney, meanwhile, defended his faith-based opinion.

Thursday, however, an ESPN NFL insider offered additional optimism. In a tweet, Adam Schefter wrote that “there is a ‘strong conviction’ there will be college football this season.”

Below is the full text of Schefter’s tweet:

Speaking to people in and around college football this week, there is “strong conviction” there will be college football this season. Uncertainty about when – multiple scenarios being debated – but they sound certain there still will be college football this season.

As is the case will of these types of opinions, though, there’s no timeline attached to it.  Nor should there be, at least at this point.

At this point, it’s decidedly uncertain when the 2020 college football season will start. Or if it will even start, despite Schefter’s positive missive. There’s chatter that it could start in October, although one Bay Area health official doesn’t expect sports to return until at least Thanksgiving. January has been floated as a possibility as well. So has the spring of next year.

Playing games with no fans has also been tossed around. More than one prominent athletic director, though, has tossed cold water on such a plan. Fan-less games would very likely be an absolute, utter Hail Mary of a last resort to salvage some semblance of a season.

We’ve said myriad times before and we’ll continue to say it: The only certainty in all of this is that everyone involved in the sport will go to extreme lengths to ensure that a season is played in some form or fashion. Head coaches, though, will be far down on the list of people who will determine when a season starts. Or even if it does.

Justin Fields takes veiled shot at ex rival Tate Martell

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Justin Fields hasn’t said much about Tate Martell since enrolling at Ohio State. Actions speak louder than words, after all, and 51 touchdowns says plenty all on its own. But that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten.

Martell, of course, was an Ohio State quarterback before Fields, and all but challenged Fields’ manhood to come in and try to take the job Martell viewed was his.

“[W]ord of advice: don’t swing and miss… especially not your second time,” Martell tweeted on Dec. 22, 2018.

“Why would I leave for somebody who hasn’t put a single second into this program yet?” Martell later said. “I’ve put two years of working my ass off into something that I’ve been praying for and dreaming of my whole life. To just run from somebody that hasn’t put a single second into workouts or anything like that and doesn’t know what the program is all about, there’s not a chance.”

Two weeks later, Martell was in the transfer portal.

So, yes, Fields hasn’t said much, because he hasn’t had to. Fields led Ohio State to a Big Ten title and a College Football Playoff berth in 2019; Martell led Miami to seven passing yards.

But, on Tuesday, Fields reminded Martell that he still remembers that since-deleted tweet.

Fields won the battle with Martell a long time ago. Won it before it even began, actually. But Tuesday’s tweet was a nice victory lap, 15 and a half months in the making.

Louisville assesses pay cuts for all head coaches, senior athletics staff

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On Thursday, Louisville followed Iowa State’s lead in implementing pay cuts for all 21 of its head coaches plus its senior athletics department staff.

AD Vince Tyra told WDRB the cuts are necessary to make up for $2.1 million in lost revenue from the canceled ACC and NCAA tournaments, plus anticipated losses from the football season.

“We’re looking at everything,” Tyra said. “There’s nothing that’s not on the table to me. You have to (look at every expense). When I got into this job (in 2017) I had no idea I was going to have to use my business skills as much as I have.”

WDRB reported Louisville’s four highest-paid coaches agreed to salary cuts on Friday. The head coaches plus Tyra and 12 senior staffers will say goodbye to 10 percent of their salaries. For head Cardinal football coach Scott Satterfield, that means a drop of $325,000 from his $3.25 million salary.

Tyra will slash $85,000 off his $850,000 salary. He’ll also forgo bonuses due to him both this and next June.

Tyra also said the department is looking to cut its budget by bussing to games eight hours or fewer from campus, which figures to affect other sports more than football. Peering ahead to Louisville’s 2020 schedule, that could mean bus trips to Clemson on Sept. 12 (a 7-hour drive, per Google Maps), Virginia on Nov. 7 (7 hours, 30 minutes) and Notre Dame on Nov. 21 (4 hours), though that may prove to be one of those things where Tyra is talking to other U of L head coaches more than Satterfield.

Louisville is implementing such efforts to avoid cutting any of its 21 sports. One aspect not helping see-saw the budget in the right direction, according to Tyra: the $14 million buyout the school owes Bobby Petrino.

Colorado State losing LB Trey Sutton to transfer portal

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If you had Colorado State as the next participant in the spinning of “Ye Olde College Football Transfer Portal Wheel of Future Fortune,” collect your winnings. Which is essentially a cyber pat on ye olde back.  Congrats?

As most of the cool transfers are doing these days, Trey Sutton utilized Twitter to announce he’s made the first move in leaving the Colorado State football team by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database. The linebacker stated that he will be leaving the Rams as a graduate transfer.

That means Sutton would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school immediately in 2020. He also claims he will have another season of eligibility he could use in 2021 as well.

That, of course, means he was granted a sixth season of eligibility at some point by the NCAA.

Sutton was a three-star member of the Colorado State football Class of 2016. The Florida product took a redshirt for his true freshman season.

After playing in four games in 2017, Sutton saw action in a career-high 12 the following year. He started three of those contests. Those were the only starts of his collegiate career thus far.

Interestingly, Sutton didn’t see the field at all in 2019.

Colorado State will be under new leadership this fall as Steve Addazio was hired as the program’s new head football coach. Addazio replaces Mike Bobo, who was fired earlier that month.