Archived Story

Should Auburn have hired Bobby Petrino?

Published 9:35am Wednesday, December 5, 2012

By Andy Graham | Sportz Blitz

To hire Bobby Petrino or not to hire Bobby Petrino: that is the question.
In fact, it appears to be the seminal question dividing the Auburn fan base.  There are plenty of other candidates being considered and everyone has their favorite; however, all Auburn fans seem to fall into one of two broad categories with hardly any middle ground: pro-Petrino or anti-Petrino.
I’m not certain anyone really knows for sure, but I don’t believe either faction has a vast majority.  Former Auburn player Terry Henley came out in support of Petrino Monday.  Former Auburn President Ed Richardson spoke out against hiring Petrino the week before.
There are, of course, compelling reasons to justify one’s position no matter what side of the fence they fall upon.
It is a fact that Bobby Petrino is the most qualified and proven head coach available at the moment.
Not that it would be a problem, but everyone else the Tigers are considering already has a job or much less experience.
It’s also a proven fact that Bobby Petrino wins football games.  He has coached at two different FBS schools (Louisville and Arkansas) in three different conferences (Conf. USA, Big East & SEC) and has a better career winning percentage (74.2%) than Nick Saban.
Unfortunately, the reasons against hiring Petrino have nothing to do with X’s and O’s, but are just as substantial.
Obviously there is the fiasco that happened in Fayetteville which began with an ill-fated ride on a motorcycle.  On second thought, that’s not exactly true.  The series of bad decisions began long before that now infamous moment.
The accident just brought everything to light.  I’m not going to rehash the saga of what went on, but suffice it to say, there are character issues to consider.
One other little episode that gives many Auburn fans pause is the not too soon forgotten “jetgate” scandal.  While Auburn University shoulders the majority of the blame, Petrino was complicit in trying to unseat Tommy Tuberville behind his back under the cover of darkness.
Again, the issue of character must be considered.
I personally believe it would be a mistake to hire Bobby Petrino at Auburn University.
I strongly feel that way for the same reason he was fired at Arkansas.
He is untrustworthy.
Petrino was not fired because of infidelity.  He was fired because he lied to the president of the University and that has been an established pattern of behavior throughout his career.
After his ill-advised flirtation with Auburn in 2003, Louisville took him back and eventually offered him a 10 year contract in 2006 which he gladly signed with an expression of commitment.
Less than six months later, he jilted the Cardinals to become the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.  Petrino signed a five-year contract with the Falcons which lasted less than a full season when he jumped at the chance to go to Arkansas.
He informed his players via Post-it note on their lockers.
I believe in second chances.
I even believe in third and fourth chances, but I also believe those chances must be earned.
If Auburn University stands for truthfulness, it cannot pick and choose when to exercise that attribute.
I want Auburn to win football games as much or more than anyone else, but I hope it will be unwilling to compromise its integrity to do it.
Graham is a columnist for Sportz Blitz.