LITTLE ROCK, AR - NOVEMBER 19: Head Coach Bobby Petrino and the Arkansas Razorbacks watches his team warm up before a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at War Memorial Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Bulldogs 44-17. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
The news came out of the blue.
I received Joe Schad's tweet while sitting in Terminal B of Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport, waiting to board a flight back to Little Rock after an anniversary trip with my wife. After months of silence, Bobby Petrino was finally ready to open up and bare his soul regarding the events of April 2012 and prior that led to his dismissal as head football coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Naturally, the Arkansas Twittersphere exploded, and I saw my timeline dominated with information and opinions about Petrino, his motivation for the interview and sincerity during being two of the most popular topics. I read tweet after tweet that described how emotional he was during the interview. I understand he even cried.
I didn't watch. Still have not watched. I have honestly tried, but I just cannot bring myself to care.Upon our arrival in Little Rock, I made the mistake of tuning in to the local sportstalk radio station, where I was inundated with caller after caller compelled to weigh in with the opinion that Bobby Petrino had suffered enough. That he was really, truly sorry, and for that reason he deserved to be considered fit to take the reins back from John L. Smith following the 2012 season. Or heck, even sooner. That somehow his tearful on camera mea culpa should absolve him from the consequences of his prior actions. We'd better snatch him back up, Randy and Rick, before Tennessee grabs him. Or worse, Texas!
Can we please put this to bed? Once and for all? Bobby Petrino will not coach again at Arkansas. Period.
Jeff Long has on numerous occasions stated during interviews that Bobby Petrino will not be considered a candidate for head coach in the future. That there is no scenario out there for his return. There is no option on the table whatsoever. In fact, Long has been so explicit on this issue that it really stands in contrast to stances Long has taken on other divisive matters he has tackled, from football uniforms to John Pelphrey's job performance to the opponents slated to compete against the Razorbacks in War Memorial Stadium. In all these instances, Long remained circumspect, giving an honest opinion while being careful not to box himself in. With regards to Bobby Petrino, Long has slammed the door and left no wiggle room.
Bobby Petrino is not coming back to Arkansas. Ever. It's time to move on.
Please do not mistake my insistence that Arkansas move past the Bobby Petrino Era for anything resembling a lack of satisfaction with or appreciation for the job that Petrino did while at Arkansas. He is one of the best minds in the game, a master of preparation with a relentless thirst for perfection. He inherited a program that was absolutely in shambles in late 2007, and within four years turned it into one nipping at the heels of the elite. I very much wish he had not made the mistakes that he made in early 2012, and that he was still the coach at Arkansas.
But he did. And he's not. It's over. Splitsville. Population: Us.
It's quite maddening the sheer volume who refuse to take the first step in moving on. It seems since the final seconds ticked off the clock in Cowboys Stadium in early January, everything that could possibly go wrong for our program has gone wrong. Why anyone would want to tease themselves with a proposition that is misguided at best, and delusional at worst, is beyond me. Continuing to stoke the fires of this fantasy only prolongs the misery of this giant Citadel of an offseason. Who wants to subject themselves to that?
Not me. I refuse. I refuse to waste any more time thinking about a man who will not be on the field at Razorback Stadium on September 1 or any subsequent Saturday. Not when there is so much else to be paying attention to. Since we last played, our backup quarterback is now a wide receiver. Our best defensive end is now a linebacker. Our bruising fullback also a linebacker. And our new coach is everyone's favorite crazy uncle, complete with financial difficulties, sock-accompanied sandals, and a theory for what you should do with your piss.
I hope that last Thursday's interview proved cathartic for some. That it gave them some closure and will allow them to enjoy this season to its fullest. I fear for others it will only serve to aggravate a wound that they are not yet ready to allow to heal. Others still will somehow find hope in Petrino's words, and will trust Jeff Long to deem him rehabilitated and ready to return to the Hogs. The only thing I feel regarding the nterview is relief that it was released early enough during fall camp so as not to serve as too big of a distraction. Friday's breaking news of the Honey Badger's demise should only further diminish discussion of the story.
In the end, Bobby Petrino will get the mileage out of his carefully choreographed interview that he desires. He'll appear in the public eye a few more times over the course of the season, and by the end of 2012, I imagine his image will be repaired to the point that his football genius will outshine the PR hit for the program that decides to bring him aboard. As long as that program isn't a member of the Southeastern Conference, I will wish him well. If that program IS a member of the Southeastern Conference, I will still appreciate what he built at Arkansas.
Either way, I don't intend on spending very much time in the future being concerned with what Bobby Petrino is doing or saying. I anxiously wait for the rest of the state to join me in that sentiment, but after watching many Hog fans around me hold onto a grudge against Houston Nutt for four years, I'm not holding my breath after only four months.