This is Not About Bobby Petrino.

Okay. It’s kind of about Bobby Petrino.

It is not common practice that I use this space to write about sports. It is not common practice that I write about sports. Save the occasional tweet or facebook status during football or basketball games, sports is not something on which I spend my reading/writing/thinking time.

That said, for those who know me well (or really, know me much at all), it is likely no secret that I love the Louisville Cardinals. (And the BaylorBobby-Petrino-was-introduced-at-Louisville-Thursday-morning-Getty-Images Bears, but that’s more trivial for the topic at hand.) Not to be outdone by other sports headlines, Louisville football captured headlines. Coach Charlie Strong, who spoke with great intent on staying loyal to UL, left for the deeper coffers of the University of Texas football program. It seemed before we could finish reading that story, news broke (and was confirmed) that Louisville planned to hire Bobby Petrino – or re-hire. Many remember Petrino as coach of Louisville several years ago. His record was winning, and yet his personal life and reputation was, well, otherwise.

A friend of mine posted on my wall Thursday, when the hire was confirmed, the press release and the question, “Thoughts?”

To which I responded: “I mean. Whatever.” That should be read out loud with accompanying sighs and eye rolls.

Honestly. Whatever. It’s not something about which I really afford much time to be either enthusiastic or angry.

But it still got me thinking.

Pro: Petrino is a good coach. He’s a damn good coach. He will win games.

Con: Petrino has a bad reputation on the personal side. He has a damn terrible reputation.

How much does the one affect the other? And how much should it.

What I kept saying to myself is, “Well, Bill Clinton was a good president.” Or do I just tell myself that because I lean to the left, making me more willing to dismiss the things for which he says he’s sorry. I can accept an apology from someone with whom I’m already inclined to agree?

Should it matter? I find myself talking in circles (at least in my own head). Does it matter about his past? His reputation? Should it matter? If Petrino recruits good players, runs a good program, wins games, do the other decisions he makes in the rest of his life then make him a bad coach? To what degree, at what point, does a person’s character start to impact whether we consider them “good” or “bad” at their job?

And then I wonder how much we ought to accept – or suspect – public apologies. Both Petrino and Clinton had extramarital affairs. Both apologized. Are we right to suspect them, and continue to judge their current character based on public past mistakes? Or are we more right to accept their words and welcome them back to a second term in office, or a second chance at head coach, hoping that they meant it?

I don’t know. I’m curious how other filter out public vs. private and discern what matters and what doesn’t. Genuinely curious.

And now I’ve officially spent more time writing and thinking about sports than I care to.

I’m out.


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