Depending on your natural disaster metaphor of choice, Arkansas fans are either waiting on Jeff Long's aftershocks resulting from Thursday's earthquake, or they're sitting out the eye of the hurricane, or you get the idea. But whispers are starting to appear online and being heard throughout town, so I thought this would be a good place to organize them and offer my opinion on their legitimacy. If new rumors come out, I'll add to this list as we go. If you hear anything, be sure to send me a note on twitter here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. What's been heard so far:
1. Bobby Petrino issued his letter of resignation to Jeff Long Saturday, April 7th. Highly unlikely. Jeff Long does get a kick out of trolling Arkansas fans on Twitter, but I don't think he'd keep this quiet for too long. Also, Petrino is an extremely proud man and while this is surely one of, if not the most, humiliating experience of his life, I don't see him walking away. Of course, that would fit in with his hop-around reputation, but I don't see it. There is the issue of his $18 million buyout, but, considering the circumstances, that could probably be negotiated down if Petrino was the one who wanted out.
2. Jessica Dorrell went to a Dickson Street bar Friday, April 6th, but was immediately booed out. I don't buy this at all. If I'm Dorrell, I don't go to Walmart, the grocery store, the post office, or even the movie theatre (as TV Law has proven, anyone trying to hide out in a movie theatre gets caught). Much less would I go anywhere with a bunch of liquored-up Razorback fans. Reports are beginning to emerge that she's in "safe zone".
3. This is all a plot to get Gus Malzahn the head coaching job at Arkansas. About as likely as Nutt returning, which is what some yokel on Bleacher Report said could happen this morning.
4. Jeff Long is working on a deal that will pay off Dorrell as well as suspending Petrino and significantly docking his pay. Certainly detailed enough to have some sort of legitimacy, but does anyone think this whole ordeal is going to end that neatly? It feels like we're just waiting on the next bomb to fall. However, if Long is able to pull off something that clean, he should get free Hugo's for life.
5. Some Hog fans want Petrino to get fired so Arkansas can make another run at Jimmy Johnson. This is probably true.
6. Petrino lobbied for Dorrell to receive a higher salary than the $55k she currently earns, Long said no, and a donor cut her a check to get her to the salary Petrino wanted. For some reason, outlets in other parts of the country are saying she earned over $100k, and perhaps these are tied. But this feels completely made up. We know Dorrell's predecessor also earned $55k, and as dumb as it was for Petrino to make this hire, it would only be dumber if he tried to get her a significant increase in a state salary.
7. The "inappropriate relationship" was not sexual nor romantic in nature. Right. How many types of inappropriate relationships are there? Has to be either sex or mafia, right? So either Dorrell is a criminal underlord using volleyball and student athlete development as a front for a gambling ring, or there was something romantic/sexual in nature.
8. If retained, Long will demand Petrino take a motorcycle retreat with Montana's greatest coach, Phil Jackson, and learn zen. Ok, I made this one up, but I hope it happens. Don't the great coaches from Montana (granted, there's only 2) have to A) know each other and B) have some sort of club? This seems right.
9. The "inappropriate relationship" was actually between Dorrell and Petrino's son. The job was an effort to impress Dorrell and improve Petrino's son's standing with her. This rumor actually got a 4-pages-and-counting thread. The rumor also included the idea that Dorrell was actually spending Sunday dinner with the family at a lake. I suppose if she's spotted Easter Egg hunting with the family tomorrow, we'll know if this is true. Thanks to @SudieF for this tip.
10. There are more women that are about to go public with their relationships with Petrino. I don't think anyone would be totally shocked by this. It seems to happen frequently with these types of scandals. Of course, we've also seen plenty of people claim they had a relationship with a celebrity in a desperate effort to get some quick fame or cash. If anyone else does come out, they'll have to have some sort of evidence. And the burden of proof is unfortunately quite low at this point.
11. If retained, Mike Slive will add on to whatever penalty Long enforces. This is a legitimate possibility. Slive isn't shy about imposing his own penalties when he deems necessary. Of course, those penalties, such as Bruce Pearl's, were the result of some sort of NCAA violation. Punishing Petrino for this behaviors may be unprecedented for the conference office. It'd be interesting to see how this plays out.
12. Long has already begun the search for a replacement. No way. I genuinely don't think they know what they're going to do yet. Long knows this sort or uncertainty can be crippling to the program, but at the same time, this is a decision that will affect not only the future of the football program, but the entire athletic department, which is mostly funded through football revenue, and the entire university. Studies have shown the strong correlation between a successful football program and student application rates, donations, and general enthusiasm for the school from people throughout the state. When he knows the direction they're going, he'll let people know.
13. Petrino bought Dorrell the get-away car she used when Petrino left for the hospital with the state trooper. Sure. Why not? I think the only way this would be an issue is if it's considered some sort of inappropriate job benefit. Of course, we don't yet know how long Petrino and Dorrell's inappropriate relationship lasted, which could be a key detail to this whole matter.
14. Long wants to keep Petrino and is fighting with the Board of Trustees to keep him. If Long is able to keep him, the BOT will force him to convince Petrino to agree to a rigorous personal improvement plan, at which point it would be Petrino's decision to accept or resign. My personal opinion is that Long will try to keep Petrino. I believe he'll think the costs of losing him outweigh the costs of keeping him. However, I'm sure there are some he has to answer to that are quite angry and want Petrino gone. So, in general, this seems plausible even if the specifics aren't all correct. As for Petrino and the improvement plan, it remains to be seen how Petrino would handle this entire situation. When he's faced firestorms before, he tries to brush them off and continue coaching as much as possible. With this, he'll have to face it and deal with it. We simply don't know if he has it in him to do that. Simply put, how badly does he want to remain head coach at Arkansas?
15. There is a press conference scheduled today at whatever o'clock and Petrino will be fired. The second UA notifies the media about a press conference, we'll hear it from them. It will be all over twitter from Chris Bahn, Robbie Neiswanger, and everybody else. Don't trust the message board press conference scheduler. It will be scheduled when Long is ready, and it's unlikely Long's decision will be leaked before that time.
16. Petrino has offered to coach Arkansas in 2012 for free. I don't see Bobby Petrino as a beggar. I don't see him calling Long in a desperate panic to coach this year. Although, I will say I don't think money is a big motivating factor for Petrino. One of the more underreported facets from his 2007 Atlanta escape was that he took basically a 50% paycut to come to Arkansas. So I'd say it is possible that he may be willing to coach for free.
17. The accident happened because Dorrell's fiance forced Petrino off the road, then beat the crap of of Petrino, thus explaining Petrino extensive injuries while Dorrell is apparently ok. Not going to lie. Kind of wish this was true. It'd be a grade-A Arkansas moment. This rumor assumes that the fiance knew about the relationship, then followed Petrino and Dorrell all the way down the Ozark highways, forced them off the road on a two-lane highway, then was able to cause extensive facial lacerations, broken ribs, and a neck injury. Makes total sense.
We'll update this as the investigation continues. In the meantime, keep your ears open and let us know if you hear anything. We'll do the same.