I n the wake of Bobby Petrino’s firing as the head football coach at the University of Arkansas, it’s never too early to predict the future.
If you want to write Petrino off, go ahead. But we live in a society that forgives and forgets A LOT.
We had a president, ironically from the state of Arkansas, “get serviced” from a White House intern. Like Petrino, Bill Clinton lied about it, then subsequently kept his job as leader of the free world. Today this incredible happening barely gets mention as his wife holds office and he makes his presidential rounds.
Patrick Fain Dye was caught red-handed by the NCAA shoveling money to players, resulting in another NCAA probation on the plains and the loss of his job. Today, Dye is still a beloved figure down on the farm, has an office in the athletic complex, and even has the freaking field Auburn plays on named after him.
They say time heals all wounds, and given time, somebody is going to roll the dice on Bobby Petrino again. Somebody is going to allow themselves to be part of his redemption story. Not because they want to help him, but because of the lust for winning.
That somebody? My prediction? You’re hearing it here first:
Let me lay it out for you.
For the rest of this year, Bobby Petrino will go underground. There’ll be talk of him taking time away from the game to heal the wounds he’s inflicted on his family. But you won’t see hide nor hair of Bobby Petrino for the rest of 2012.
Meanwhile, at Auburn Gene Chizik will prove for the for the sixth time in seven seasons as a head coach that without Cam Newton and the stars aligning he is a complete sham. Auburn will finish the 2012 season with a little luck and go 7-5 again, benefitting from some crappy middle of the pack ACC team in a mid-tier bowl to up their win total to 8. But two years removed from winning it all, the grumbling will begin.
The University of Alabama, in the meantime, will be contending for its third national title in four years. The Tide will drum Chizik and his porn star looking defensive coordinator 34-10 in Tuscaloosa, making it four out of the last five with no end in sight. Bama’s continued dominance will make the grumbling even louder in Lee County.
The outcry from some (and the ultimate resolution) in the fambly after 2012 will be that Chizik needs more time. The eternal Auburn excuse will be in play again: That Auburn is just young, and next year is their year.
After the 2012 season, whispers will begin for Petrino to take a job somewhere. But publicly Petrino will issue a statement that he is still working on being the husband and father that he always should have been, and that one day he’ll return but not now.
In February of 2013, for the second straight year, Gene Chizik will fail to sign a full class at Auburn, while big brother across the state signs the top class again, getting five of the top ten players in the country to come stand in line to play at Alabama. The grumbling will continue.
Chizik will make his rounds in the offseason, talking a good game. He’ll call reporters by name at press conferences, looking over his glasses to explain the wisdom that is Gene Chizik football.
Meanwhile Auburn will again struggle in 2013, and even for the most delusional Auburn fan (and there are a plenty) it will become abundantly clear that what happened in 2010 was as likely as Helen Keller singing the National Anthem in perfect pitch on the first try, and it’s never going to happen there again.
The grumbling will grow into full-scale discontent as Alabama once again uses Pat Dye Field to clean its cleats with the Auburn Tigers, posting a multiple touchdown victory over Auburn. Alabama will not have to punt in the game, and will end both halves taking a knee inside the Auburn five yard line.
Inside of the 2013 season will be the first Bobby Petrino sighting. Petrino will appear on the 700 Club with his wife to talk about the pains of infidelity. He’ll also make appearances on Dr. Phil and The View, promoting his new book “Riding Into Marital Bliss”. The cover will show his wife on the back of his motorcycle. His story will be of how he found forgiveness in the darkest time in his life.
Rallies will begin again in Fayetteville to bring him back, as Hog faithful take to the streets to burn couches in protest of him not being rehired.
Petrino will make his first appearance on the set of CBS Sports’ coverage of the Alabama-Arkansas game in 2013, offering expert analysis of the Tide’s seventh consecutive stomping of the Razorbacks.
Appearing healed from physical and emotional wounds, the drum will begin to sound for Petrino to get back into coaching.
Auburn will fail to make a bowl in 2013 for the first time since Tommy Tubberville’s first year, and the time will come to make a change. The state media won’t remind us daily that Chizik won a national title just three years before, as they would if this scenario were playing out in Tuscaloosa. Instead they’ll continue to print what they are faxed from the Auburn Athletic Department, and Chizik will step down as head coach of Auburn University.
Chizik will remain on the payroll however, taking an administrative position inside the Auburn Athletic Department earning six figures once his seven figure buyout has run its course. His job will be to take care of the trees on Toomer’s Corner, which continue to be fine four years after “the national tragedy caused by them mean ole Bammers.”
Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs will stand at the podium saying Auburn will rise again, “and that a national search will be made to find the man of integrity and championship caliber to lead this program.”
One phone call will be made to Bobby Petrino’s home, offering him $6.3 Million. Auburn’s sheep cloning program will be suspended in order to meet his salary, but it’ll be worth it, Fambly insiders will say.
Athletic Department officials will leak information to the media, breaking the story of Petrino’s hiring as Alabama gets off the plane in Pasadena in preparation for another BCS National Championship Game. The next day, cameras will be on the runway of the Auburn airport as Petrino’s plane touches down.
Not to be outdone, Auburn will secretly hire two women to rush Petrino and try to kiss him in the airport terminal, Nick Saban style. But the staged event will conclude as Petrino steps back and firmly tells them on camera “I’m in love with my wife. Get thee behind me.” The Auburn Fambly will eat it up.
A short while later, as all state news affiliates follow Petrino’s motorcade live from the airport to the athletic complex, Petrino can be seen snuggling with his wife in the back seat of Jimmy Rane’s Cadillac.
At the press conference, Petrino will talk about redemption. He’ll talk about second chances. And he’ll thank the Auburn Fambly for welcoming him home, and that Auburn has always felt like home. “It’s great to be back home in Auburn,” he’ll say, and the Fambly will be ecstatic.
At the trophy ceremony the morning after the National Championship game, Alabama head coach Nick Saban will be asked about Petrino’s return to coaching at Auburn. Saban will say “I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for Bobby, and I’m glad to see him get a second chance as he’s an excellent coach.”
Then, as soon as his last picture is made with all the BCS and AP hardware, Saban will make a phone call to his agent Jimmy Sexton, asking him to get on the phone with Mal Moore to extend his contract through 2025.
In the 2014 Iron Bowl, Saban will lead the Tide to a 52-9 win over Auburn on the floor of Bryant-Denny Stadium. But the state media will opine that Auburn is just young and Petrino needs more time…
So there it is. Will I be right? We’ll see…but I’d say the odds are pretty good.