JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Razorback fans in Northeast Arkansas have closely watched any developments from Fayetteville about Bobby Petrino, the head football coach.
Jeff Long, the Arkansas athletic director, placed Petrino on paid administrative leave Thursday after learning he was not alone during his motorcycle accident Sunday. Petrino was with Jessica Dorrell, a 25-year-old recently hired as the student-athlete development coordinator for the football team. The head coach admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with her.
Not disclosing that information obviously concerned Petrino's boss, who said he had no timeline in determining the coach's future with the Razorbacks.
That uncertainty has sparked worry from fans, some of whom wrestle with what they consider a personal issue on one hand and a willingness to lie on the other.
"It's kind of like the old saying – practice what you preach," said Brent Martin, a lifelong Razorback fan. "He's kind of not really living up to that. He seems like he wants to be a real business-type person on the field, but obviously that's not all true."
Martin, a graduate of Arkansas State University, says he is unsure if Petrino will keep his job after lying to his boss and admitting infidelity.
"Being in the South with an SEC school, I don't know if he will or not," Martin noted. "I mean, I'm not condoning saying that's okay for him to do that just because he's done that, but I really don't know what's going to happen."
What Razorback fans do know is that Petrino remains suspended. The athletic director has promised to review the incident, and some fans, like Dexter Ward, say a personal issue should have little effect on the decision to keep Petrino on staff.
"I definitely hope that he continues to be the head coach at Arkansas, for sure," Ward said. "As far as I'm concerned, I think his personal life is his personal life. That doesn't involve us. That's between him and his wife and his kids. That's between them, to me."
The rumor mill has already begun churning out possible replacements if Petrino is fired. Several online sites, including SportingNews.com and CBSSports.com, cited Gus Malzahn, the new ASU football coach, as a potential successor.
"There would be public outcry, maybe riots in the street," said Rylan Williams, an ASU student, "but I doubt that would honestly happen."
With rumors swirling about Malzahn heading to Fayetteville, Region 8 News reached out to the ASU Athletic Department. The assistant athletic director said it would be "inappropriate" to release a statement regarding speculation at this time.