Anybody with a moral compass understands Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino made a personal mistake by having a relationship with former Razorbacks volleyball star Jessica Dorrell, but the university must continue to support him until the scandal passes.
The biggest concern from the school's point of view shouldn't be the relationship, that's something Petrino's family will have to overcome, but rather the fact he didn't come clean right away after the motorcycle accident.
It's important to remember Petrino isn't an embattled coach with a track record of problems. He's kept a clean image during his time at Arkansas prior to this incident and the program has shown signs of major improvement in recent seasons.
That combination of factors has led fans to come out in support of the coach, according to the Associated Press.
A group of Petrino backers even started a Facebook page called "Team Save Coach Petrino" and rallied Monday night on the Arkansas campus to show their support for the coach. The group had approximately 7,000 members Monday morning before passing 17,000 by evening.
The group should be a clear sign to the school, and most notably athletic director Jeff Long, that there shouldn't be a rush to judgment. They should give Petrino every chance to explain his actions because he has earned it.
More likely than not he'll be remorseful for attempting to withhold the truth, especially in an era where nothing can be kept secret for long before the inevitable media leak. As long as he sounds sincere in his apology, the university shouldn't enact any harsh punishment.
In situations like this, two rules always ring true—Everybody makes mistakes and everybody deserves a second chance to prove themselves. Nobody should be more disgusted with Petrino's failure to speak up than himself, and that will become apparent if Arkansas sticks with him like it should.
Whether people want to admit it or not, finding another coach as good as Petrino will be extremely difficult and that factors into the decision. Letting go of an elite coach for one mistake would set the program back a handful of years.
And other programs would be lining up for a chance to bring him in. If Arkansas won't give him a second chance, you can be sure another school will. Winning football teams can generate a lot of revenue, and Petrino has proven he can build them.
So, while everybody would like to thing decisions like this should be purely based on the immediate circumstances, that's rarely the case. Everything needs to be considered, including the potential negative football impact, and it equals Arkansas standing behind its coach.
Even though it took some time before Petrino owned up to his errors, the bottom line is that he eventually did. The school can expect him to be on his best behavior if they agree to keep him because he's smart enough to understand the leash will be considerably shorter.
Hopefully Petrino learned from his lapses in judgment and everybody can move on. That's way better than any of the alternative options on the table.
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