bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Bobby Petrino fails his players

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During the heart of the Tiger Woods drama of a couple of years ago, I wrote about the fact that I was pretty uninterested in the personal lives of professional athletes. The same goes for coaches in professional sports. I am not totally immune to the off-the-field stuff, of course. I am prone to disliking players who are simply bad teammates (see Terrell Owens) or coaches who lose their minds on a very regular basis (see Brian Kelly), but, for the most part, I look for results. Amateur sports, on the other hand, are a different story. College coaches, for example, have a very different kind of responsibility than pro coaches. Parents have entrusted their 18-year-old kids to these people, so college coaches need to hold themselves to a higher standard, whether that means their in-game demeanor or their off-the-field behavior. Of course, winning usually trumps the bad stuff, which is why a lot of these guys manage to end up in top jobs. The latest offender is University of Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino, who found himself in hot water this week after injuring himself and another person in a motorcycle crash.

The story that has been circulated is that Petrino was riding his motorcycle in the Fayetteville area with a passenger when he lost control of the bike and crashed, sliding off the road into a ditch. Petrino suffered numerous injuries, including a broken vertebra. The passenger was Jessica Dorrell, a 25-year-old former volleyball player whom Petrino had recently hired to a position with the football team. I have not read specifics of her injuries, but it appears that they were less serious than those of the coach. Rather than calling 911, Petrino called a local police officer who also worked for Petrino doing security. He then lied to the university about the details of the accident, only changing his story when he found out that the police report would be made public.

So let’s review the details here. This 51-year-old married father of four was having an affair (yes, he has admitted that) with a woman half his age, whom he had just hired to come work for him at the university. He was riding a motorcycle with her on the back and with no helmet on. After crashing, he tried desperately to cover up what had occurred, including lying to his employer. The most amazing thing about this is that he has not yet been fired. Instead, the school has put him on administrative leave. Are they waiting for him to display more incredibly bad judgment? What more does he need to do?

Petrino was no angel before this, as you can imagine, although his previous offenses centered mostly around being an untrustworthy employee. Shortly after insisting that the University of Louisville, where he was head coach from 2003 to 2006, add a clause to his contract extension requiring a large payment from him if he were to leave (to prove how serious he was about staying), he jumped ship and headed to the NFL to coach the Atlanta Falcons. He then bailed on the Falcons after less than a full season, leaving a 3-10 team to take the job at Arkansas before his first season was even over.

I hate the fact that guys like this keep getting hired at the college level. A college football coach needs to set an example for his players, whether it be by demonstrating a strong work ethic, stressing academics, or by being a decent person. Most of all, they need to have good judgment. I have two girls about to head to college, and although neither one is an athlete, I can still identify with the parents who send their kids to play for some college coach. A professional athlete is responsible for himself, but a college kid is a kid. Sure, it is the parents who have the ultimate responsibility for setting the right example, but these coaches have such enormous significance to these kids, influencing them in every facet of their lives during their time at school. The University of Arkansas can not retain Bobby Petrino if it wants to have any credibility as an institution of higher learning.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Detroit Lions defensive lineman and recent first-round pick Nick Fairley was arrested on Tuesday for possession of marijuana. He is the second Lion to be arrested on that charge in recent days, following running back Mikel Leshoure’s arrest a few weeks ago.

3) Stephen Gant, a high school pitcher from Tennessee who was expected to be a high pick in the next amateur draft, was found dead by a roadside this week. It is believed that he committed suicide. He was supposed to head to Vanderbilt this fall.

4) A linebacker from the University of Minnesota was found dead in his apartment on Friday. Gary Tinsley was 22 years old. The cause of death has not yet been determined.

5) One of my favorite sports memories involves a time when I got to watch the annual regatta between Cambridge and Oxford on the Thames back in 1987. It was a fantastic experience, and quite unlike most other sporting events I have attended in my life. On Saturday, this year’s race was interrupted by some moron who jumped into the water and swam between the two boats, causing the whole thing to be held up for 31 minutes while they fished him out and got him out of harm’s way.

6) Miami Marlins head coach Ozzie Guillen has managed to prove, yet again, that he should not be allowed to speak to the media unless it’s absolutely necessary. This time, while talking to Time Magazine, Guillen actually uttered this bit of genius:

“I love Fidel Castro … I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last sixty years but that [expletive] is still there.”

I have no idea why the magazine was asking him about Castro, so yes, I am clearly taking this quote out of context. That said……what??  In your first week as the head coach of a team in Miami, of all places, you are going to praise Castro? Wow. I am guessing this will not ingratiate him to many of the people that the team has been trying to bring to its new stadium in South Florida.

7) Some fans were so excited about Kentucky’s win over Kansas in Monday’s national title basketball game that they started shooting each other.

8) The Baltimore Orioles finished their exhibition season on Tuesday by losing to a community college.  Awesome.

Good sports:

1) The Baylor women’s basketball team capped off a perfect 40-0 season by defeating Notre Dame in the national championship game on Tuesday. Star center Brittney Griner is a pretty fantastic player, and at 6’8 and very athletic, she is extremely difficult to stop.

2) The final day of The Masters was a great one on Sunday. It began with an incredibly rare double eagle by Louis Oosthuizen, who managed to hole out from 253 yards away on his second shot at the par-5 second hole. It ended on the second hole of a playoff between Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson, with Watson making a par to take the green jacket. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, the two favorites coming into the tournament, were non-factors.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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One Response to “Bad sports, good sports: Bobby Petrino fails his players”

  1. Alan, once again, good post and thanks for sharing.

    Re:Bad Sport #8, as a staffer at a community college here, in West Texas, I think you should ALSO post it under Good Sports … I’m tippin’ my cap to the Manatees of State College of Florida-Sarasota.

    Re:Good Sport #2, a lot of interest in the Masters this year. I really liked a Tweet from West Texas author and preacher Max Lucado, who observed “Unbelievable shoot out at Augusta!” then suggested “Shouldn’t a ‘Bubba’ win in Georgia?”

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