Wednesday, April 11, 2012

An(other) Open Letter to Jeff Long

Mr. Long,

I wanted so badly for Bobby Petrino to stay.

He was my football coach. I do not care who he rode motorcycles with. I do not care who he slept with. I do not care who he played gin rummy with. Quite honestly, I don't care who he hired. He failed to follow University policy in reporting a conflict of interest when he sought to hire someone state law deems a "paramour", but even that on its face I don't consider automatic grounds for termination. Not for someone so indispensable. Someone whose presence seems so responsible for the current trajectory of not only Razorback football, but Razorback athletics in general.

I do care that you, after promising to Bobby Petrino and the world that you would conduct a thorough, expeditious review, found that, in your opinion, Coach Petrino saw himself as bigger than the program he ran. At the end of the day, that was ultimate reason he had to be fired. The only reason.

In your measured review, it must have surprised you that the coach whose edge, for four seasons, has been so fine, whose focus so singular, could fall prey to carelessness so precipitously. That he could suspend his meticulous nature to allow disastrous personal decisions to beget disastrous professional ones. That, in forging deeper and deeper down an ill-advised path with Jessica Dorrell, he continued to throw into double-coverage, weaving a web of lies and deceit so easily unraveled that it seems baffling a cover-up so feeble could come from someone who always seemed so prepared.

I can't imagine your horror at the realization that the man so precise in the control he wielded over his program had lost the battle for that control with his own ego. None of the facts of the Bobby Petrino saga of the past two weeks were able to convince me that he needed to be terminated. Then you took the podium last night, and grappled with your emotions as you explained to us all what you found. I was convinced at once. The hurt, anger, disappointment, and finally resolve, told me everything I needed to know. You had to do it.

It is my hope that you will exercise the patience you promised in your search for our next coach. You were able to hire Bobby Petrino in large part because he wanted a position in the Southeastern Conference, and we fit that criterion. I hope you keep in mind throughout the process that Coach Petrino's career plan is not unique. There are great coaches in this country who desire to coach in the Southeastern Conference, and we are at the moment the only empty seat at the table. We are in an unenviable position, but that does NOT mean it is a desperate one. I trust you do all that you can to turn our setback into an advantageous circumstance. I trust you.

Bobby Petrino's job at Arkansas was to win football games, and he was wildly successful at it. Your job at Arkansas is to protect the athletic department. I believe you performed brilliantly in that capacity last night, and I would like to express my gratitude. Thank you, Mr. Long. Stay loyal and true.

Woo Pig Sooie,


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