Bobby Petrino insists he’s a changed man.
Not the scoundrel who secretly interviewed for someone else’s coaching job without telling his bosses, who abandoned the Atlanta Falcons with three games left in the season, who wrecked his motorcycle with his mistress aboard and lied about the sordid affair as long as he could.
We’re supposed to believe he’s not that guy anymore.
In the latest sign that college athletics spews a lot of high-minded malarkey but is never about anything more than wins and losses, Louisville re-introduced Petrino as its head coach this week — pairing him with another member of the Morally Bankrupt Hall of Fame — men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino. You remember, before the NCAA championship, the intimate relations with someone other than his wife on a restaurant table.
The news conference Thursday was downright sickening, with all the expected nonsense about Petrino suddenly turning into a decent human being and the Cardinals being persuaded that he’s just the right guy to turns boys into men.
A tiger doesn’t suddenly change his stripes. History suggests this guy won’t either.
A brief review:
• “It’s a great fit for me,” he said after being hired in 2002 by Louisville the first time.
Less than a year later, he slips off to a clandestine airport meeting with Auburn officials, neither side giving Louisville the courtesy of a phone call or apparently fazed that the Tigers still have a coach, Tommy Tuberville. Petrino apologizes and stays with the Cardinals.
After three years at Louisville, Petrino signs a 10-year contract worth at least $25.5 million in the summer of 2006, a deal he says is designed to send a message.
Less than six months later, he leaves to coach the Atlanta Falcons.
• “I believe this is truly the best football job in the NFL,” Petrino says after being hired by the Falcons in January 2007. But quarterback Michael Vick never plays for the new coach, sent to prison for running a dogfighting ring, and the Falcons lose 10 of their first 13 games.
Just hours after assuring Atlanta owner Arthur Blank he has no plans to leave, Petrino submits his resignation and takes the Arkansas job. Blank feels “betrayed,” and the players are even more bitter when they arrive the next day to find a form letter at their lockers, signed by Petrino. It starts “Out of my respect for you” — utterly laughable — and ends with “while my desire would have been to finish out what has been a difficult season for us all, circumstances did not allow me to do so.”
“I feel like I’ve been sleeping with the enemy,” safety Lawyer Milloy says.
• Then, in April 2012, Petrino shows up with four broken ribs and wearing a neck brace after a motorcycle crash. “When I came out of the ditch, there was a lady there that had flagged down a car,” he says, not bothering to mention she was his mistress and a women less than half his age, former Arkansas volleyball player Jessica Dorrell.
With a police report about to be released, Petrino is forced to come clean about Dorrell, such as giving her a $20,000 gift and hiring her to work in the football office over candidates who are surely more qualified.
But this time, we’re supposed to believe Petrino has changed.
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