Thursday, April 12, 2012

Midlife Crises in Arkansas

So Bobby Petrino is out at Arkansas after A)Gary Busey-ing it all over the asphalt B)with a young lady who was on his staff, not his wife, and a participant in an "inappropriate relationship" C)which he then proceeded to try to cover up. For my part, I'm fairly unsurprised that Petrino went down like this; he's always been about as upright as a turnip, with the moral fiber of same. And really, this is just the same midlife crisis story that we've seen so many times before with coaches - anyone remember Larry Eustachy's starring role in "Basketball Coaches Gone Wild"? Fast vehicle, younger woman, abuse of authority/star power - add a nightmare descent into drugs and booze and it's any episode of VH1's Behind The Music, ever.
The interesting thing is, it got him fired. And it got him fired over the will of what is apparently a fair-sized contingent of folks who were rallying to save him because he won football games. Sure, what he did - cheating on his wife, wiping out and lying about it and so forth - was bad, but it had nothing to do with football.
Nothing to do with football. That's the key. Remember, these are the same fans who ran Houston Nutt out of town on a rail, subpoenaing his phone records as a state employee over a message board post, and raising the issue to the university trustees because someone thought he was making moofky-foofky with a local newscaster - and mucking with a favored son QB. He wasn't winning enough games, so suddenly the peccadilloes became relevant enough for the FOIAs to come out.
But Petrino won football games. And this had nothing to do with football, more or less, so it was OK, at least for some.
Maybe it shouldn't have mattered. Anyone looking to Petrino for any kind of moral backbone is better off looking for the Loch Ness Monster, and more likely to be successful. The last defense of a guy who pulls the job-hunting shenanigans that Petrino did is always "I was looking out for my family", and its hard to square that with a 25-year old strapping her hands across his (motorcycle) engines. Frankly, I've never been one to get too worked up about whom public figures were canoodling with so long as everyone involved was a consenting adult. That stuff, ultimately, is between Petrino, his family, and his dalliance(s), and whatever arrangement they come to, they come to. It shouldn't matter.
Except, of course, that it did matter with the guy who didn't get Arkansas to a BCS game, and so it should matter now, all of it. You don't get to pick and choose that stuff, or at least you shouldn't. You've got a problem with the coach who wins a few games screwing around, you should have a problem with the coach who wins a few more doing the same thing. Or, you should have a problem with neither, and, if it really is just about wins and losses, wait until the games count to start weighing in.

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