Updated: Statements issued after Petrino fired from Arkansas

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UPDATED 10:34 p.m. ET: Here are Jeff Long’s opening remarks transcribed in their entirety, courtesy of The Times-Record:

“Last Thursday night, I met with you to share information that I had learned just hours earlier that Coach Petrino had not been forthcoming with me and with you about the circumstances of this motorcycle accident.

As you know, I placed Coach Petrino on administrative leave while I reviewed his contract related to the accident. I assured him and all of you that I would approach this task fairly and thoroughly. Since that time, I have spoken with key individuals that were involved in the accident and in what occurred afterwards, his passenger on the motorcycle, the individuals who transported him to Fayetteville and to the hospital, and several people who spoke with Coach Petrino before and after the accident.

I reviewed the manner, timing, and extend to which Coach Petrino shared information about the accident, both with men and with others, and to whom he was accountable. That includes among others, the members of the football program, our supporters, student-athletes, faculty, staff, and alumni of the university, and the public at large.

My review raised several concerns which led me to look beyond the accident itself. That included the professional and personal relationship he had with his passenger, Jessica Dorrell, the process and circumstances that influenced his decision to hire her as a direct report member of his staff and his candor and behavior of my staff.

Here are the key findings of my review:

Coach Petrino knowingly misled the athletics department and university about the circumstance related to this accident. He had multiple opportunities over a four day period to be forthcoming with me. He chose not to. He treated the news media and the general public in a similar manner. Coach Petrino’s relationship with Ms. Dorrell gave her an unfair and undisclosed advantage for a position on Coach Petrino’s football staff. She was one of 159 applicants for the job and Coach Petrino himself participated in the review and selection process without disclosing his relationship with her and that constitutes a conflict of interest under university policy.

During my review of this matter, Coach Petrino informed me that he give a large sum of cash, some $20,000 to Ms. Dorrell. Coach Petrino, however, failed to disclose this information to me prior to his recommendation to hire her into the football program.

Coach Petrino’s conduct regarding his account of the accident jeopardized the integrity of the football program. He made a choice to return to practice on Tuesday, to hold a press conference, and to demonstrate his physical resiliency and command of his program, all the time failing to correct his initial report that he was the only person involved in the accident. He made a conscious decision to speak and mislead the public on Tuesday. In doing so, he negatively and adversely affected the reputation of the University of Arkansas and our football program.

By itself, Coach Petrino’s consensual relationship with Ms. Dorrell prior to her joining the football staff was not against university policy. By itself, it is a matter between individuals and their families. However, in this case, Coach Petrino abused his authority when over the past few weeks, he made a staff decision and personal choices that benefited himself and jeopardized the integrity of the football program. In short, Coach Petrino engaged in a pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior designed to deceive me and members or the athletics’ staff both before and after the motorcycle accident.

He used athletic department funds to hire for his staff a person whom he had an inappropriate relationship. He engaged in reckless and unacceptable behavior and put his relationship in the national spotlight. Coach Petrino’s conduct was contrary to character and responsibilities we demand of our head football coach. In fact, that is the very language that is included in his contract that he signed as the University of Arkansas

Consequently, this afternoon, I informed Coach Petrino that his employment with the university was being terminated immediately.”

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UPDATED 10:05 p.m. ET: Bobby Petrino has released the following statement through his agent:

I was informed in writing today at 5:45 p.m. that I was being terminated as head football coach at the University of Arkansas.

The simplest response I have is: I’m sorry. These two words seem very inadequate. But that is my heart. All I have been able to think about is the number of people I’ve let down by making selfish decisions. I’ve taken a lot of criticism in the past. Some deserved, some not deserved. This time, I have no one to blame but myself.

I chose to engage in an improper relationship. I also made several poor decisions following the end of that relationship and in the aftermath of the accident. I accept full responsibility for what has happened.

I’m sure you heard Jeff Long’s reasons for termination. There was a lot of information shared. Given the decision that has been made, this is not the place to debate Jeff’s view of what happened. In the end, I put him in the position of having to sort through my mistakes and that is my fault.

I have hurt my wife Becky and our four children. I’ve let down the University of Arkansas, my team, coaching staff and everyone associated with the Razorback football program. As a result of my personal mistakes, we will not get to finish our goal of building a championship program. I wish that I had been given the opportunity to meet with the players and staff prior to this evening’s press conference and hope that I will be given the opportunity to give my apologies and say my goodbyes in person. We have left the program in better shape than we found it and I want the Razorback Nation to know that it is my hope that the program achieves the success it deserves.

My sole focus at this point is trying to repair the damage I’ve done to my family. They did not ask for any of this and deserve better. I am committed to being a better husband, father and human being as a result of this and will work each and every day to prove that to my family, friends and others.

I love football. I love coaching. I of course hope I can find my way back to the profession I love. In the meantime, I will do everything I can to heal the wounds I have created.

I want to thank Chancellor Gearhart, Jeff Long, the Board of Trustees, the University administration, faculty, staff, students, alumni and fans for the opportunity to serve as the head football coach at the University of Arkansas for the past 4 years. I was not given an opportunity to continue in that position. I wish that had been the case, but that was not my decision. I wish nothing but the best for the Razorback football program, the University and the entire Razorback Nation.

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After nearly a week of debating, we have our answer.

Multiple reports broke the news earlier this evening, but athletic director Jeff Long confirmed in a press conference that Bobby Petrino would no longer be the head coach of Arkansas effective immediately. Long cited a long and deliberate review in which he discovered coach Petrino had “knowingly misled the athletic department about the circumstances of the [motorcycle] accident.”

Additionally, Long said Petrino gave football employee Jessica Dorrell an “unfair and undisclosed advantage” for her new job. According to Long, nearly 160 people applied for Ms. Dorrell’s position, and only three were interviewed. Long said Petrino failed to disclose his relationship with Dorrell, which apparently was going on for a “significant period of time.”

Petrino and Dorrell also confirmed to Long that Dorrell received $20,000 in cash from Petrino. Long later told a local news outlet that the payment was not made with university money.

“Coach Petrino abused his authority and made choices that benefited him while hurting the program,” Long said. “No single individual is bigger than the team.”

Long added that he made the decision to fire Petrino on his own. He denied reports that Petrino was offered an opportunity to stay, and insisted Petrino was not given the chance to plead his case.

Long said Petrino was terminated with cause.

Petrino was in what was initially reported to be a one-man motorcycle accident last Sunday. However, a police report last Thursday confirmed that Dorrell was on the motorcycle with Petrino when it crashed. Dorrell works in the football offices at Arkansas as the student-athlete development coordinator and began her current job on March 28, just days before the accident.

Petrino had a 34-17 record in four seasons with the Razorbacks. A search for a new head coach will begin immediately.

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Florida taking advantage of Tennessee mistakes

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Tennessee isn’t going to be good in Jeremy Pruitt‘s first year of his effort to excavate the program from the rubble of all of Butch Jones‘s bricks, but one has to wonder how good the Vols might be if they could just get out of their own way.

A chorus of miscues have staked Florida to a 26-3 halftime lead in Knoxville.

The mistakes started immediately for Tennessee. On the Vols’ first drive of the game, Jarrett Guarantano was sacked and fumbled, which Florida’s David Reese II recovered and returned to the UT 21. Felepie Franks put the Gators up 7-0 four plays later when he hit R.J. Raymond for a 1-yard toss.

On Tennessee’s next possession, Guarantano was intercepted by Luke Ancrum at his own 12, which he returned to the 7. Franks rushed in from one yard out two plays later, handing Florida a 14-0 lead.

Dear reader, this was just the beginning.

A safety handed Florida a 16-3 and, after the free kick, Franks found Freddie Swan for a 65-yard score, effectively ending the game at 23-3 with 10:42 to play in the second quarter.

Tennessee appeared to be in position to pull back within two scores when, on a 4th-and-1 from their own 45, Guarantano found a wide open tight end Austin Pope for a 51-yard connection. But as Pope leaped to avoid a tackle near the goal line, he lost control of the ball, which then rolled out of the end zone, turning a 1st-and-goal into a touchback.

Florida punted on the ensuing possession and Tennessee again moved into scoring territory, facing a 3rd-and-11 at the Florida 23, but a botched shotgun snap ended a second straight promising drive in a fumble.

Florida drove 66 yards at the close of the half to add a 25-yard Evan McPherson field goal to close the first half with a 26-3 lead.

Are they back now? Texas snaps four-game losing streak to TCU

Associated Press
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Before the 2018 season began, many were pondering what’s been an annual question of late: “Is Texas back?” A road loss to an embattled Maryland in the opener suggested no.  The last two weeks, however, might say otherwise.

Trailing 13-10 at the half, and then 16-10 in the middle of the third, Texas ripped off 21 straight points to secure a huge 31-16 win over No. 17 TCU in the Big 12 opener for both schools.  The win snapped the Longhorns’ four-game losing streak to the Horned Frogs.

Sam Ehlinger passed for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns while rushing for another score in a winning effort.  Tre Watson led all rushers with a game-high 58 yards.

Defensively, the Longhorns forced four turnovers — three interceptions, one fumble recovery.  Texas was able to turn those turnovers into 14 points.

Combine this impressive win with a 23-point win over then-No. 22 USC the week before, and we’re right back to…

Of course, the answer to the question won’t be definitively answered for another two weeks as, after a road trip to Kansas State, Texas will play host to No. 5 Oklahoma.  And, even then, we may not get answer.

Old Dominion stuns No. 13 Virginia Tech for first-ever Power Five win

Associated Press
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Since returning to the FBS level, Old Dominion had been 0-9 against Power Five teams, with eight of those losses coming to schools from the ACC.  And then Saturday afternoon/evening happened.

Coming in as a 27.5-point underdog, Old Dominion left Foreman Stadium with a stunning 49-35 upset over No. 13 Virginia Tech.  The Monarchs had been 0-3 entering the game — losses to Liberty, FIU and Charlotte — while the Hokies were a perfect 2-0.

Tech had allowed just two touchdowns in two games; ODU had four in the fourth quarter alone and seven total in the game.

The two teams traded the lead six times, while it was tied on another six occasions.  The Monarchs took its first lead of the game with just under 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, only to see the Hokies tied it up nearly three minutes later.

With 5:11 left in the contest, ODU took the lead for good on a tremendous one-handed catch by Jonathan Duhart on the back-end of a 29-yard touchdown pass from Blake LaRussa.

Both teams ended the game with their backups quarterbacks on the field.  LaRussa passed for 495 yards and four touchdowns after he replaced the starter before the second offensive series, while Ryan Willis went eight-of-15 for 115 yards and a touchdown in place of the injured Josh Jackson (8-16, two touchdowns, one interception).

 

Tech was the second ranked ACC team to go down in defeat at the hands of a previously-winless squad.  Earlier in the day, No. 23 Boston College was railroaded 30-13 by a Purdue team came in 0-3.

Tua remains flawless as No. 1 Alabama slays No. 22 Texas A&M

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No. 1 Alabama and its Heisman candidate quarterback Tua Tagovailoa cruised through their first three games, but Saturday was supposed to be different. No. 22 Texas A&M was coming to Tuscaloosa, and for the first time this season, the defending national champions would face a team that would match them athlete for athlete, coach for coach, and dollar for dollar.

Or so we thought.

Texas A&M threw its best bunch at college football’s crimson bully, but in the end Alabama accepted that blow and landed a torrent of haymakers back, cruising to a 45-23 win that wasn’t as close as the final score.

The game opened with a quick interception by Alabama’s Mack Wilson and an even quicker touchdown pass, as Devonta Smith hauled in a 30-yard score one play later to give the Tide a lead just 50 seconds into the game.

The next sequence was the best for Texas A&M (2-2, 0-1 SEC): after Alabama downed a punt at the Texas A&M 1, the Aggies marched the length of the field to tie the game. The key play on a 54-yard quarterback draw by Kellen Mond, then a 15-yard strike to tight end Jace Sternberger. It was the first 99-yard drive surrendered by Alabama since Houston did it in 1997.

But, in typical Alabama (4-0, 2-0 SEC) fashion, the euphoria of legitimately challenging the Tide was short lived. Tagovailoa moved the Tide 75 yards in nine plays, scoring on a 1-yard keeper, to give Alabama a lead it would not relinquish.

Seth Small put the Aggies within 14-10 at the 8:50 mark of the second quarter, but Alabama put the game away with 17 points over the final half of the second frame: a 23-yard strike to Hale Henteges, a 6-yard toss to Henteges and a 47-yard Joseph Bulovas field goal to stake Alabama to a 31-13 lead.

Josh Jacobs scored on a 3-yard rush to push the lead to 38-13, and Henry Ruggs III took a ball 57 yards to the house to add the capper at the 2:01 mark of the third quarter.

Trayveon Williams added the final score of the day, a 1-yard rush, with 12:55 to play in the game.

Tagovailoa added to his Heisman resume with perhaps his best game yet: 22-of-30 for 387 yards and four touchdowns while adding another on the ground. Damien Harris and Najee Harris combined to run 15 times for 95 yards.

On the other end, Mond endured a number of sacks to still rush for a game-high 98 yards while throwing for 196 more, but the bulk of those were in garbage time, and two interceptions were backbreakers for the Aggies.

The win moved Nick Saban to 13-0 against his former assistants, though Jimbo Fisher‘s 22-point loss was ahead of Saban’s average margin of victory of 27 points.