Making the case to keep Bobby Petrino

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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.

SEC releases 2019 schedule

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We’re only a quarter of the way into the 2018 season, but who wants to break down the SEC’s 2019 schedule?

Okay, we’re not going to do that, because that would be insane, a waste of time, and an insane waste of time. But we will note that it has been released, and the full thing can be found here.

Considering the SEC refuses to budge from its inane 6-1-1 scheduling model, really the only thing to note is the one (1) rotating crossover game each team plays. The league rotates the home and away venues, and all the East teams will be at home in 2019:

  • Alabama at South Carolina (Sept. 14)
  • LSU at Vanderbilt (Sept. 21)
  • Auburn at Florida (Oct. 5)
  • Arkansas at Kentucky (Oct. 12)
  • Ole Miss at Missouri (Oct. 12)
  • Mississippi State at Tennessee (Oct. 12)
  • Texas A&M at Georgia (Nov. 23)

A few other observations, in no particular order:

– Texas A&M makes visits to Clemson (Sept. 7) and Georgia, in addition to playing its regular SEC West schedule. The Aggies are slated to play half of the current AP Top 10 in 2019.

– While not SEC games, notable SEC non-conference games in addition to Texas A&M at Clemson on Sept. 7: Alabama vs. Duke in Atlanta (Aug. 31), Auburn vs. Oregon in Dallas (Aug. 31), Florida vs. Miami in Orlando (Aug. 31), Ole Miss at Memphis (Aug. 31), South Carolina vs. North Carolina in Charlotte (Aug. 31), BYU at Tennessee (Sept. 7), West Virginia at Missouri (Sept. 7), LSU at Texas (Sept. 7), Vanderbilt at Purdue (Sept. 7) and Notre Dame at Georgia (Sept. 21).

– Missouri plays five consecutive home games from Sept. 7 through Oct. 12. The Tigers open at Wyoming on Aug. 31 and will not leave Columbia again until an Oct. 19 trip to Vanderbilt.

– Georgia plays five games in November: vs. Florida in Jacksonville, vs. Missouri, at Auburn, vs. Texas A&M and at Georgia Tech.

– Florida plays a four-game stretch that includes Auburn, LSU, South Carolina and Georgia (after a bye), the final three away from Gainesville.

– Alabama continues to catch breaks from the scheduling department. The Tide play Texas A&M and LSU after byes and Auburn after playing Western Carolina.

– As such, every team across college football will have two byes in 2019, as there are 14 Saturdays between Labor Day weekend and the first Saturday in December instead of 13.

The SEC Championship will be Dec. 7 in Atlanta.

South Alabama’s season-opening starting QB, Cole Gavin, arrested for being drunk in public

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Arizona Bowl - South Alabama v Air Force
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Yet again, it’s time for an in-season resetting of the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker.

The latest to trigger a move back to double zeroes is Cole Gavin, with the South Alabama quarterback arrested early Friday on a charge of public intoxication. No details of what led up to the arrest and charges have been divulged.

The football program has, though, confirmed that Gavin has been indefinitely suspended from the team as a result of the arrest.

Last season, Gavin started seven games as he split time with Dallas Davis, who transferred to UAB this past offseason. Gavin started the season opener as well against Louisiana Tech before giving way to backup Evan Orth, who started the Week 2 loss to Oklahoma State.

For the season, Gavin is 10-of-22 passing for 64 yards, one touchdown and a pair of interceptions. Gavin didn’t play in the Week 3 win over Texas State, a game that kicked off a little over 24 hours after his arrest.

A year ago, Gavin had the same number of touchdowns as interceptions (seven) as well as 1,490 yards as he completed under 53 percent of his 232 passes.

Brian Polendey’s season-ending surgery leaves Miami with the two healthy scholarship TEs

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Already a concern entering the season, Miami’s depth at the tight end position has been chipped away yet again.

The U announced Tuesday that Brian Polendey (pictured, No. 88) suffered an unspecified injury to his right knee and be sidelined for the remainder of the 2018 season.  The release didn’t state how the injury occurred.

The sophomore will undergo surgery on an unspecified date to repair the damage.

Polendey, a three-star 2017 signee, played in six games as a true freshman.  He caught his first career pass, for 14 yards, in a 77-0 win over FCS Savannah State in Week 2.

In early August, Michael Irvin II suffered an MCL injury in his right knee and will be out for up to four months.  The injuries sustained by Irvin II and Polendey leave the Hurricanes with just two healthy scholarship tight ends — Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory, who are both true freshmen.

Jordan’s two receiving touchdowns are tied for the team lead, while his seven receptions are tied for second.

Arkansas pulls trigger on another change at QB

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 01 Eastern Illinois at Arkansas
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With Arkansas set to open up SEC play this coming weekend, Chad Morris has made a change under center for the Razorbacks.  Again.

The first-year head coach confirmed Monday that Ty Storey will start at quarterback this Saturday against No. 9 Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium.  Storey will replace Cole Kelley, who started the Week 1 win over FCS Eastern Illinois as well as the Week 3 loss to North Texas.

Storey had also replaced Kelley as the starter for the Week 2 loss to Colorado State.

“Regardless of the practice, regardless of the way things go,” Morris said of the decision to move back to Storey, “I wanted him to know straight up from [Sunday] that, ‘Look, we’re going to go with you, and let’s respond. Now instead of putting you in to where you’re in a tough situation with the momentum not in our favor, how would you respond?’”

This season, Storey has completed 17 of his 30 passes for 297 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.  In his other start, the first of his career, Storey went just five-of-13 for 36 yards and both of his picks before being yanked in favor of Kelley.

Through three games, the Razorbacks are 100th nationally in team pass efficiency (119.46).  Only one of the 129 teams at the FBS level (New Mexico State, nine) have thrown more interceptions than Arkansas’ eight.