Arkansas Football: Bobby Petrino's Lie Was so Good It Almost Worked
Between Barrett Sallee over at the SEC blog and of course Adam Kramer and myself here at Your Best 11, we've had the Bobby Petrino situation covered down for you here at Bleacher Report. There is so much to debate around this situation: Will Petrino be fired, will Jessica Dorrell be fired, will there be a sexual harassment suit, should Petrino be fired? And plenty more.
One thing that is not up for debate? Bobby Petrino's dedication to being able to sell this as a one-person accident.
This is not a joke or a backhanded compliment. Bobby Petrino's plan, by itself, was pretty good. Now, that's not to get into the morality of it all about how he should not be tooling around on a motorcycle with a woman he has to lie about being with. We're also not condoning lying or even the riding of motorcycles themselves.
However, what we are saying, in part to the released 911 call and now thanks to the new report released that details Capt. Lance King's information about the accident, we can now understand how Petrino planned on getting away with all of this.
When Arkansas released its statement about Petrino being involved in a one-person accident last Monday, it was reading a lie Petrino had fed it somewhere between Sunday and Monday. However, this was the end of a well-crafted lie that Petrino, in his heart of hearts, truly believed he had built to absolute perfection.
The lie started when he decided that broken ribs, cracked vertebra, busted-up face and all didn't require calling 911. Instead, he'd hitch a ride with Benjamin Williams and his girlfriend to get to the hospital. That's Bobby Petrino, folks, runs his motorcycle off the road into a ditch, gets severely injured, yet is still mentally sharp enough to decide, "I don't need this circus, let's hide it."
Petrino flags down Williams and his girlfriend, they load the injured Petrino into the vehicle and they head towards Fayetteville. During this time Petrino makes a couple more calls; he rings up Dr. Chris Arnold, an orthopedic surgeon, he calls Matt Summers, the head trainer for the Hogs. Petrino also fields a call from Lance King, one of the state troopers who has worked with the Razorbacks on game days.
Not his wife, not his boss, not his family, not 911.
He tells Arnold and Summers to meet him at the hospital and has King meet him on the road along the way to speed up his hospital trip.
As Williams drives to meet King, he becomes physically ill at the sight and sound of Petrino. That's how messed up the coach was. Williams had to exit the vehicle because he could not continue the trip. Williams' girlfriend drove the rest of the way after dropping Williams off. Upon meeting King the lie gets furthered as Dorrell does not travel with the coach to the hospital; instead, she helps King get Petrino into his car and then disappears.
King is taking Petrino to the hospital. The big hospital. The hospital that everyone knows about. Washington Regional. Petrino, through the pain, tells him no and then proceeds to direct him to Physicians Specialty Hospital. Why there? Because Physicians Specialty is the official healthcare provider for Arkansas athletics and that's where Arnold and Summers had been instructed to go.
This is the genesis of the lie, folks. This is where the groundwork for Petrino believing he got away with it was laid. As far as the lie goes, he did everything right. He didn't call 911 and have police or paramedics at the scene. He didn't follow standard accident protocol. He left the girl to ride solo to the hospital. He used Arkansas team doctors and trainers at the Arkansas hospital. In short, he kept it all in house.
Thus, by the time he had to talk to Arkansas he is thinking he has it all buttoned up and so he tells the university exactly what he planned from the moment he wrecked: "I was alone." How would the staff know he wasn't alone? Some nice passerby handed him off to a trooper. A trooper delivered him to the hospital alone. He was in the clear. He took a page from the Lane Kiffin handbook.
Unfortunately, it was not late night when Petrino wrecked; it was Sunday evening and Williams was not the only witness. The perfect lie Petrino crafted started to crumble as the 911 call comes in and the witness, Larry Hendren, tells the emergency personnel the bike was registered to Petrino and he was with a passenger. A white, female passenger.
The true unraveling of the lie then comes when the police start asking questions to put together their accident report. Petrino has already lied to his employer at this point. He's already drawn the sympathy of public, he's got the folks eating out of the palm of his hands. Even in all of his pain and the surgery there is only one thing that can trip him up: more information.
Interestingly enough, Petrino knows the jig is up on Monday. He knows that on Tuesday the troopers are coming to interview him and as Capt. King has told him, they know there was a passenger who would be asked about. From arkansassports360.com:
Coach Petrino asked if passenger information was required and I said that all we need to know is the passenger’s name and address. I told him that we had been getting phone calls from people who had said there was a passenger on the rear of the motorcycle and if we didn’t get a name, the report would state unidentified white female.
Should Bobby Petrino be fired after this web of well spun lies?
Petrino having a passenger had evaded public knowledge, but Williams and Hendren have mentioned the passenger. They know she is a white female. Petrino's options are tell the police who she was or have "unidentified white female" listed in the accident report. That's the fork in the road. Tell who she was or have an unknown female companion. Those are the only two options that he has. Finally, after constructing a scenario where he thought he was wholly insulated from discovery, he opts for honesty.
Apparently Petrino draws the line on his lies, that line is lying to the police.
In hindsight perhaps he should have said she was a random barfly, or a hitchhiker because there wouldn't be the sexual harassment and employment issues with that—although that would mean spinning an entirely new web of lies that most certainly would be a major task to control.
So, on April 3, Petrino talks with Sergeant Gabe Weaver and Trooper Josh Arnold. He gives them the details of the accident and then he proceeds to walk them down to meet his passenger, one Jessica Dorrell. Monday, Petrino knew he was in the wrong. On Tuesday, the police found out what was up. It took until Thursday for everyone else to get the information. Thursday night the presser happened, Friday the 911 call comes out, solidifying everything in the released police report.
This was a well-thought-out, well-planned, well-schemed lie by Petrino. He was trying to keep it all in house, keep it off the radar. Ultimately it played out like an episode of Scooby Doo. Bobby Petrino would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids.
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