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To this day, there might be only one press conference that comes to mind when you bring up some of the craziest stories in the Southeastern Conference. I know there have been some classics, but what we witnessed out of Fayetteville following the infamous Bobby Petrino motorcycle crash will live on forever. I don’t think many folks will forget hearing about the former Arkansas coach taking spill on the back roads, which led to his firing and the ‘neck brace’ presser.
We were all worried about the Razorbacks head coach when word started trickling out about a motorcycle crash on April 1st, 2012. What we didn’t expect were the details to be wild enough for the school to end up firing the coach.
The school released a statement the following day, saying no other individuals were involved in the incident. That turned out to be a lie. Then the coach would make one of the biggest mistakes in public relations history by having a press conference, still wearing a neck brace, and looking like he went three rounds with Mike Tyson. Petrino looked beaten up, and his press conference was streamed live.
Deciding to return to practice only two days after the accident was one thing, but standing up on that podium and lying to folks was another. He did have someone else on that motorcycle, and it wasn’t his wife. His ride or die was Jessica Dorrell, who had been hired as the ‘Student Athlete Development Coordinator’ only a few days prior to the accident.
On April 5th, after word started to spread that Petrino had a companion on the motorcycle, AD Jeff Long announced that Petrino had been put on administrative leave with pay. The school was looking into the relationship between Dorrell and the head football coach. It was also on this day that Petrino released a statement where he admitted to having a ‘previous inappropriate relationship,’ adding more fuel to the already burning fire.
It was five days later on April 10th, that AD Jeff Long put an end to this PR nightmare and fired Bobby Petrino with ’cause’, ending one of the craziest weeks in college football history.
Almost immediately after the announcement of his firing, Petrino released a statement of his own, admitting fault in the situation.
“I chose to engage in an improper relationship. I also made several poor decisions following the end of that relationship and in the aftermath of the accident. I accept full responsibility for what has happened.”
The story will live on forever around this part of the country. It’s regularly brought up when someone has a rough outing with press. It’s called ‘Pulling a Petrino,’ and it will never be forgotten or duplicated.
Happy ‘Bobby Petrino’ Day to all you SEC fans.
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