NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 04: Head coach Bobby Petrino of the Arkansas Razorbacks looks down in the third quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. According to sources on April 10, 2012, Bobby Petrino will not return as head coach of Arkansas following a scandal involving a motorcycle crash on April 1. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
If you thought that the Bobby Petrino affair had already run out of bombshells, Arkansas Athletics Director Jeff Long dropped a nuclear warhead during his press conference announcing the firing of Petrino: The Arkansas head coach had given mistress Jessica Dorrell a $20,000 gift at some point in their relationship. And at that point, you could kind of feel Petrino losing his remaining support among the Arkansas fan base.
And just like that, the career of one of the most controversial coaches in the SEC, if not the nation, came crashing to an end. And a program that seemed like a darkhorse national title contender a week ago was left trying to pick up the pieces.
There are almost too many questions right now to list them all. Will Arkansas go with an interim coach now or try to get a new head coach in before the fall? What does this do to Arkansas' dreams of finally winning an SEC Championship? In short, what happens next?
For Long, it was clearly a difficult press conference about a difficult decision. He choked up when recounting what he had told the players about his decision and was clearly shaken by the experience. He also probably knew that there will be a backlash from some parts of the fan base, even with all the details that have now emerged.
"Our expectations in character and integrity in our employees can be no less than what we expect of our students," Jeff Long said. "No single individual is bigger than the team."
If there was one overarching failure that caused Petrino's career to come to this kind of an end, that was it. Not just thinking that he was bigger than the program -- there are a lot of coaches that think the same thing about their programs -- but the fact that Petrino's sense that he was larger than Arkansas turned into a feeling of invincibility and a belief that the rules no longer applied to him.
If he ever thought they did to begin with.