Thursday, April 12, 2012
Bobby Petrino's phone records released
By Edward Aschoff
Former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino's phone records indicate that he and Jessica Dorrell communicated frequently over the past seven months.
Hundreds of pages of records released under a Freedom of Information Act request Wednesday showed that the two exchanged more than 4,300 text messages and nearly 300 phone calls. Some of those messages also appeared to be picture and video messages.
This came a day after Petrino was fired for failing to disclose his relationship with Dorrell.
The volume of communication between Petrino, who is a married father of four, and Dorrell, who was hired by Petrino without him disclosing his obvious conflict of interest, is startling, but some of the times at which these two communicated are just baffling.
The two exchanged 91 texts on Sept. 13 and 84 texts over five hours the day before a game at Vanderbilt -- a game in which the Razorbacks just squeaked by. The day Arkansas beat Troy 38-28, the two exchanged 70 text messages. Twenty-six more were exchanged the day Arkansas beat Mississippi State, and they exchanged a whopping 55 texts the day before the LSU game.
The week of the Alabama game, records indicate that Petrino's mind was elsewhere too, as he made phone calls to Dorrell at very odd times. Over four consecutive days during that week, Petrino called Dorrell at 5:52 a.m., 6:35 a.m., 5:49 a.m. and 7:55 a.m. The Razorbacks eventually lost to Alabama 38-14.
Phone records also show that the two remained in close contact after the April 1 motorcycle accident.
The tremendous amount of text messages and phone calls exchanged between the two show an absurd amount of arrogance on Petrino's part. A clause in Petrino's contract clearly stated that athletic director Jeff Long had the right to suspend or fire the coach for conduct that "negatively or adversely affects the reputation of the (university's) athletics programs in any way."
What Petrino had been doing since September clearly did that -- and he knew it. Failing to be honest with his boss about everything the moment after his motorcycle accident can be thrown in there as well.
This shows just how much Petrino felt he was above the law. Petrino isn't the first coach to have an inappropriate relationship with an employee, and he won't be the last, but the frequency with which the two communicated dating back to Sept. 12 shows Petrino felt he was invincible. He was doing something he knew violated his contract and he kept doing it -- a lot.
Keeping information from Long embarrassed Petrino's boss and the University of Arkansas. Maintaining his improper relationship with Dorrell, whom Petrino once paid $20,000, embarrassed Petrino's family. Everything made public leading up to Petrino's firing was a major slap in the face to his family, those inside Arkansas' program and those who support it.
But the phone records provide a much bigger, more painful slap; one that won't heal quickly at all. It was an obvious misuse of power by Petrino and it showed that he felt invulnerable and impervious to the rules and consequences.
However, unlike Petrino, Long showed the utmost integrity when it came to making a tough decision. Long decided that winning wasn't everything at Arkansas. He decided that Petrino's 34-17 record at Arkansas (21-5 over the past two seasons) wasn't enough to save Petrino.
Long decided that Arkansas deserved better, and it does. This team is equipped with the personnel to compete for an SEC West title and maybe more. Petrino thought so, but he won't have the honor of leading this team in 2012 because he failed to show honor in his job.