Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Would you want your son to play football for him?

Petrino's been down this road before … and likely will again

The new University of Arkansas Head Football Coach is Bobby Petrino. So who cares, right? That is where you are wrong. You need to understand the background to understand why this story is significant at all.

On July 13, 2006, Petrino signed a 10-year contract worth up to $25 million dollars to continue as the University of Louisville's Head Football Coach. That season, his team went 12-1 (12 wins, 1 loss) and Petrino was being talked about as one of the top College Football coaches. He had gone to a school that many would never figure could have a successful Football program. High School football players were now looking at the University of Louisville seriously.

But only 6 months after signing that astronomical 10 year, 25 million dollar contract, Petrino found a new job. That's right, after signing a 10-year contract after building the school's football program in 4 years, Petrino was leaving. Petrino would sign a 5 year, 24 million dollar contract with the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL). Petrino was getting his "big shot" at the "big show". Petrino would tell his University of Louisville players that the Falcons' head coaching position was "the best job in the National Football League."

Well, over the next 11 months, "the best job" in the NFL turned into a nightmare. The team's star player, Quarterback Michael Vick, would be charged and make plea deal for Dog Abuse charges stemming from a Dog Fighting operation that occurred on Vick's property. Petrino was now forced to coach a team without the player that the team was built to complement. But team owner Arthur Blank talked to the media about how the team would work to build a team to compliment their new coach, Bobby Petrino.

But Petrino had other ideas. The day after his Falcons team lost their 10th game of the season (1 more loss than Petrino had in four years at Louisville), Petrino resigned as the Falcons Head Football Coach. Petrino would the next day after the loss sign a deal with the University of Arkansas to be their Head Football Coach. The contract is reportedly for 5 years at $2.85 million per year.

Now, this is the third commitment Petrino has made to a football team (2 collegiate, 1 Professional) in a span of 17 months. His salaries for these jobs (respectively in chronological order) is approximately 2.5 million per year, 4.8 million per year, and now 2.85 million per year. Even the measly 2.5 million per year looks good to you doesn't it? What Petrino does not seem to care about is that a "contract" is a commitment saying, "I will be here working for you". He has already "broken" two contacts/commitments in less than a year. What kind of example is that for young people? These collegiate coaches are supposed to be leaders and role models for young athletes. But if a college athlete wants to transfer from one school to another, he must sit out one year before playing again. If a high school graduate made a previous "commitment" to go to College A and decides instead to go to College B, the media and others will put the young person down and complain how they "broke their word" and how this person is not loyal.

Why the double standard? The fact is that Bobby Petrino has betrayed the University of Louisville and the Atlanta Falcons. He signed top notch contracts with both for what many in sports call "long term deals", meaning the school and professional organization made "long term commitments" to Petrino to be their Head Coach. He has abandoned both, very unscrupulously. The University of Louisville made a 10-year commitment to Petrino. He left after the first year of that deal. The Atlanta Falcons made a 5-year commitment to Petrino. He left with 3 games left in the season.

Now he is at the University of Arkansas and I ask all parents out there this question: is this the man you want your sons playing football for while attending college? How do you feel about Petrino's moral ineptitude? If he does well coaching at Arkansas should not overshadow the fact that he is a man who breaks promises and is deceptive. Not the kind of person I want coaching my child, that is for sure. We as a society need to hold such people, like Petrino, accountable for his unscrupulous behavior. We also need to uplift coaches and players, in all sports, who are loyal, good guys who our kids can look up to.

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