Tuesday, April 10, 2012

And that's the end

A decision has been made:

Bobby Petrino will not return as head football coach at Arkansas, multiples sources have told ESPN.com's Chris Low.

The university has called an 8:15 p.m. ET press conference, at which time athletic director Jeff Long will announce Petrino will not be back.

There's some vagueness there* that makes it sound as if Petrino might have technically resigned; it doesn't really matter. Long (the guy looking very uncomfortable in the picture at the top of this post) apparently decided the PR crapfest wasn't worth keeping the guy I called "the best coach Arkansas has had since Frank Broyles" a couple days ago. I will now reiterate my stance that the affair was overblown and largely unimportant in the big picture compared to the hiring-of-an-unqualified-mistress thing. I'm curious whether Long saw it the same way and thought the punishment was deserved or simply necessary given what this story has turned into (not that it matters, really).

So ... Taver Johnson will presumably be handed the interim job for the season, a season in which Arkansas had some massively high expectations that will now have to lowered just a tad. There's a reason Petrino is/was making $3.5 million a year: He's one of the better passing-game coaches in the country. I feel fairly confident saying that Paul Petrino (in his first year back at Arkansas) is not his equal in that regard.

A potentially useful tidbit about Johnson (and Petrino, I guess) from my post the other day:

He's also never been as much as a coordinator, which isn't a guarantee of failure but isn't a typical road to awesomeness either. It's highly unlikely he'll end up with the permanent job under any circumstances other than a Petrino firing followed by a BCS(-ish) season. The relevance of that is extremely debatable given that he might not ever coach a game at Arkansas; it's an observation that you can absorb/ignore as you like. The point is that there's no definitively capable replacement for Petrino as coach or O-coordinator, so Arkansas's status is heavily dependent on his.

Yeah. That. Petrino has a pretty-dang-impressive 75-26 career record and went 30-10 at Arkansas (in the SEC West!) after a relatively crappy 5-7 performance in his first year. An equal and available replacement there is not unless Johnson turns out to be Brady Hoke.

The good news: Jeff Long has about an eight-month head start on the search for a permanent dude. Also ... umm ... yeah, that's about it as far as good news for Arkansas. Not good times.

What a typically stupid ending to a Bobby Petrino coaching stop.

*Update: It was officially announced as a firing at the news conference because of a "pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior designed to deceive me and members of the athletic staff." Ouch.


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