The Double Standard

Contrast if you will the way the media has treated Bobby Petrino and Rich Rodriguez in their respective sudden job moves.

Petrino pull up stakes with three games left on the Atlanta Falcons schedule and took the Arkansas job. He offered a short letter of resignation and walked away from what is widely regarded as the biggest mess of any team in the NFL. ESPN and the rest of the media villified Petrino for it and according to one Arkansas paper, Sean Salisbury said recruits should not even think about playing for Petrino.

Rodriguez decided to take the Michigan job despite telling the West Virginia fans last season when he turned down Alabama that he would be there for a long time. Of course in this day and age that is taken with a grain of salt. Rodriguez on his way out the door in Morganton first called a prize QB recruit to inform him of the change who then leaked it to Rodriguez then met with his players for about 10 minutes and had a graduate assistant hand his resignation letter to the athletic director. Outside of local media in West Virginia I have yet to see on ESPN or any other national media outlet a single negative word about how Rodriguez handled his exit from WVU.

Now there are two distinct issues. The first is the job change itself and in both cases I have zero issues with the respective coaches making the moves they made. Michigan is an elite college football job and Rodriguez can hardly be faulted for taking it. Petrino was in an untenable situation in Atlanta and instead of waiting around to be fired he probably did Atlanta a favor by leaving so they could go about the business of finding a coach more capable of handling an NFL rebuilding project.

The second issue involves the manner in which each coach left. Petrino basically just up and left. The players called him a coward and he chose not to even finish the season which had people portraying him as a quitter. For all of this he has been raked over the coals so many times you will probably be able to see the scars on his neck when he takes the sideline for the Arkansas spring game next year. As for Rodriguez there is little difference in the way he chose to leave Morganton versus what Petrino did. Rodriguez did not even have the class or courage to face his boss and resign. When the deal was done he was more interested in making sure a recruit knew before the players with whom he had been with for years. Rodriguez was as much a coward if not more so than Petrino and yet the media has been awfully quiet.

If I was into conspiracy theories I might say that ESPN in particular is being careful not to upset the balance of their relationship with the Big10/Pac10/Rose Bowl contingent. Perhaps ESPN is more concerned about how those people might respond than the fans of a middle tier SEC school. At any rate Petrino is cast as evil and self absorbed while Rodriguez is seen as pursuing a can’t miss coaching opportunity ignoring the assurances he made in the past and the fact he abandoned a team with a huge game left to play


8 Responses to The Double Standard

  1. There’s no comparison of the situations. Not only did Petrino leave mid-season and overnight, he’s been with the team less than a year!

  2. Dan Schwind says:

    I think there is still one big difference in this whole thing: Rodriguez left after several years at WVU, Petrino left after something like eight months. Yes, Rodriguez had been speculated about before several times, but had still stayed a full 7 years, turning down a couple high-profile jobs. Petrino didn’t even stick around a full year, and will probably bolt from Arkansas the second a job opens that’s even half a step higher than the Hogs on the prestige ladder.

    As for not facing the AD and resigning in person, on the one hand it comes across as pretty classless and cowardly. But, who knows? It’s possible that Rodriguez feared that by showing up in person, the AD would try and convince him to stay and try and work out some sort of extension. We’ve seen it once already this year with Grobe. Also, remember that Rodriguez is a WVU alum, and it’s possible that he felt he needed to get off campus before he could re-think it and stay a la Roy in 2000. It’s probably not how it happened, but it’s still possible.

  3. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Okay, slight amendment on this. Apparently WVU treat RR like crap. They turned down some fairly reasonable requests and there was serious animosity between him and the AD. This is all according to a booster who has come out blaming WVU administration for basically screwing the pooch by not being willing to spend 200K to keep RR happy considering how much they will now lose on boosters not giving and not making the big bowls.

    So RR was giving back what was so nicely given to him.

  4. TxTarheel says:

    While the 2 coaching changes have some similarities, it’s a larger stretch to infer any further. As long as Rodriguez was successful at West Va you’d have to expect him to be in the cross-hairs each year. It’s not like a big-time job such as Mich. comes open every year either.

    On the other hand, Petrino seems a vagabond man. His word is no bond & I’m pretty certain that’s what Salisbury intended in his remarks. What’s wrong with 8-4 & the Cotton Bowl anyway, Razorbacks ?

  5. BigDaddyDoc says:

    THF, you know I am in 100% agreement with you on this, as I said on the Buzz boards.

    “Petrino” is becoming equivalent with “Saban” as a bad word in sports circles. I still maintain the NFL is a business, and a cutthroat one at that. I still neglect to see what Petrino owed the Falcons or Artie Blank to receive this sort of villification.

    And what difference does it make if Rodriguez was at WVU for x number of years. Doesn’t that actually make it worse? Unlike Petrino, he DID have a connection to the school and to all those players he recruited. And even though it appears WVU did not treat RR well, what does RR owe to the kids? Certainly more than Petrino owed to the Falcons.

    One more thing – Petrino is being painted as a job-chasing hack. But isn’t that what coaches on the rise do? Comparing apples and oranges here, but I was watching Billy Gillispie and Kentucky on ESPN tonight and thought to myself, he has never spent more than three seasons at one place. Is Billy job-chasing sleaze like Petrino, or “one of the hottest coaches in the game right now”?

    I wouldn’t have known Bobby Petrino from Bobby Goldsboro if his face hadn’t been plastered on ESPN non-stop for two weeks. I have no dog in the fight but I do think he has been treated unfairly.

  6. Wayne says:

    Of course when Petrino signed on with the Falcons, he was expecting to have Vick as a QB rather than as a convicted felon.

  7. Tar Heel Fan says:

    ^Which is why I understood him getting out. And now that Bill Parcells is coming on board as their VP, who wants to bet Petrino would have been out the door anyway to make way for a Parcells clone.

  8. TxTarheel says:

    Esteemed rock poet Sammy Hagar might’ve said it best…”Suckers walk, money talks! But it can’t touch my three lock box! ” Money is such a big player these days…just a lot more distortion than 10-20 years ago.

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