The college football coach's life revolves around imperfect data. Heights and weights of recruits, release times of quarterbacks, strength gains of defensive linemen, third-down tendencies of play callers, final scores of football games. X hours spent watching film per day. Texts to recruits during permitted recruiting periods. Imperfect men rifle through mountains of imperfect data even as they keep adding to it by living their lives.
We now know fired Arkansas Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino shared thousands of texts and dozens of phone calls with Jessica Dorrell, his 25-year-old mistress, between Sept. 12 and April 5. That's 20-something texts and a phone call or two every day. These included calls before and after the motorcycle wreck, along with a call while the police report was going public.
A scandal that damaged at least two families, told via nothing but data. The only biography we have of the entire arrangement is told by numbers, because of course it is.
Not that it's any of our business. It isn't. Unless if we pay taxes in Arkansas, and even then only barely. This was all released so quickly just so the school could make firing Petrino look as justified as possible. Yes, Jeff Long did the right thing by firing Petrino, but we're starting to see that he really had no other option.
And the irony of Petrino flagrantly cheating via his work phone, and being found out thanks to diligent FOIAing, only years after Houston Nutt was all but burned alive for texting a female? The irony has been widely noted. We should remember it forever, and add it to the pile of evidence that Bobby Petrino is more a dedicated liar than a competent liar.
But damn. Something like three working hours, during one of the 13 weeks all year when college football actually happens, spent flirting on the work telephone. In Arkansas.
Petrino was in touch with her more in the week leading up to the Alabama game than at any other point. Psychoanalyze if you like -- I'd imagine any coach would feel a constant flutter of fear heading into Tuscaloosa. The right-thinking person would probably call everybody in the neighborhood just to solicit blocking ideas.
That Petrino managed to score two touchdowns on Nick Saban's defense despite spending literally hours carrying on an affair demonstrates again that he's a spectacular offensive game planner and play caller. Saban, meanwhile, does not have time for this or any other shit.
One thing is all but sacred for even Petrino: Saturday. She texted him many times before and after the Alabama game, but with no response. After that, she learned to send only a pre-game and post-game message, if that, and he almost never replied anyway, not even after his team's most thrilling win of the season. Sunday mornings after meetings were a different story.
If Saturday is so special that not even Bobby Petrino does anything illicit until it's over, then Saturday is indeed quite special.
Coaching a football game is all about adapting. You can isolate mismatches all over the field, but if the other team does a better job of adjusting, you lose. Watch as Petrino dials back verbal communication. Maybe somebody around the office wondered what all the chit-chat was about, so the surly ball coach ramped up his emoticon output in response LOL SMH. It's about hitting the defense where it isn't.
Bobby Petrino is a human. That's the thing that keeps jumping out at me. As a Falcons fan, I've had reason to dislike him for a half-decade now, and many others have had that same cause for even longer. But I've mostly just been entertained by the image of him as a short-tempered cyborg that's missing its tact gland.
This phone records document, which is nothing but a list of numbers that's none of our business, is the clearest evidence I've ever seen that Bobby Petrino is a human. He put a lot of time into this warped relationship, and it very clearly meant a lot to him. While staring at the worst thing he's ever done (I hope), I sympathize with him for the first time ever. It's weird.
A busy man has time for everything, they say. Arkansas almost lost to Vanderbilt, a team with half its talent. Tyler Wilson got destroyed by the nerd school's pass rush. Somebody probably should've done something about that.
"You just hang in there and keep going," Petrino said after the game.
Steve Spurrier has got to find this all really, really hilarious.
At some point you feel bad for her, even though she had a fiancee and is thus no innocent party whatsoever. Petrino is an old man with a cranky child's face and a disposition that has yet to win any awards, yet this attractive, accomplished young woman was absolutely smitten with him. She usually texted him first, often early in the morning or after he'd gone to bed, and then kept it up until he replied. As soon as he did, she returned serve within a minute, quite often with a message much longer than his. It happened over and over.
I don't know why she had to keep doing that. I mean, ugh, it's Bobby Petrino. Somebody should make a joke about all his money. The human heart is confusing, is the thing.
Saturdays are special except for those coming before rivalry games with national titles on the line. With LSU looming, Petrino spent his Saturday night after Mississippi State on his phone.
"How do I avoid both Claiborne and Mathieu?" he wondered.
She didn't know. He didn't know either. Things always get strange around the holidays.