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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 22, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

Former Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino and his mistress, 25-year old Jessica Dorrall (inset).

In Sports Commentary

Former Milwaukee Panthers coach Bruce Pearl won games, but was still fired at Tennessee over an off-court scandal.

One expensive joyride


Two weeks ago, Bobby Petrino was far and away the most popular man in Arkansas. Today, he's out on the street, perhaps never to be head coach of a major program ever again.

One month ago, Sean Payton was thought of as one of the most above-board and respected coaches in the NFL. Today, he is a disgraced symbol of a league that had never suspended a head coach for an entire season before.

One year ago, Joe Paterno was the most beloved man imaginable in college sports. Today, he is dead after one of the most stunning and complete falls from grace in history.

What it is about the powerful and respected that sometimes goes so shockingly wrong so quickly? Is it that that they have had to lie for so long as a motivational and recruiting tool that they cannot discern what is true and what is not?

In Petrino's case, his sin was ultimately hiring his 25-year old mistress and lying about it.

In Payton's case, it was being told to stop a suspected practice that was endangering the health of opponents; only to then lie about it and then continue it.

In Paterno's case it was sweeping under the rug the sins of a monster for fear it would bring disrepute upon his cherished kingdom.

Certainly there is a tight rope that coaches – in particular college football coaches – have to walk. Not only are they responsible for recruiting well and winning games, they have to make sure over 100 young men aged 18-22 obey the law, go to class, do their homework, hit the weight room, eat properly, and generally represent the university in a positive light.

Evidence will tell you that accomplishing all of these goals is an impossible task. And yet the ultimate responsibility falls on the guy at the front of the room. He gets the credit; he gets the blame; he takes the fall.

Of course all of these leaders of men are compensated extremely well for being the most recognized figure on their respective college campuses.

Wisconsin's Bret Bielema makes more than $2.5 million per year. But that's peanuts compared to other coaches around the country – some far less accomplished.

Florida's Will Muschamp made more than $3.2 million last season. Michigan's Brady Hoke pulled in almost $3.3 million. Iowa's Kirk Ferentz makes almost $3.8 million.

At Arkansas, Petrino raked in a cool $3.635 million. No wonder few noticed when he wrote out a check to Jessica Dorrell for $20,000.

We may never know the full extent of Petrino's relationship with Dorrell, but it is not unreasonable to speculate that the 25-year old stunner caught the old man's eye and he let his libido make the decisions for him. After all, theirs appears to be a relationship of convenience for both of them. He gets a hot young thing and she gets a big promotion and some spending money from her sugar daddy.

It is obvious why Petrino would want to lie about it. After all, he is married with four children. Then again, it is entirely possible that Petrino and his wife had an understanding as some couples do. After all, some of the most famous and otherwise strong women have tolerated their husband's philandering. Jackie Kennedy, Hilary Clinton, Coretta Scott King, and Princess Diana are just a few wives in history who put up with their husbands humiliating them for years, even decades.

But even if a wife will look the other way in the face of demonstrable infidelity, the equation often changes when it becomes a matter for public consumption. The simple fact is that the vast majority of society considers having a mistress on the side as an unscrupulous thing.

That she is less than half his age makes it even worse. That she is his employee and he had a direct hand in her hiring over 158 other applicants further complicates matters. That Petrino's mistress was herself engaged to be married in June to another university athletic department employee just makes your skin crawl.

But yet, Apr. 1 there they were, riding on the same motorcycle; the mid-life crisis coach and his side-piece cruising around the Arkansas countryside without a care in the world.

But here is what I don't get. How could the most recognizable man in an entire state be riding around – without a helmet – with a tall young blonde wrapped around his waist and not think something could go horrifically wrong?

The word is hubris.

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Talkbacks

HeySuburbia | April 11, 2012 at 4:37 p.m. (report)

You have her name spelled wrong. It's Dorrell with an e, not an a.

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