And now a word for our fearless leader, Jeff Long

There is a report today that the Reynolds Foundation has made a $1.25 million contribution to the University to honor Jeff Long’s “courageous” firing of Bobby Petrino. So now, being a total media jerk, and having previously praised Long for the same integrity, I am going to put my knife deep in his back. Would you expect any less?

Well, that is not exactly true. Long should get plenty of credit for making the hard call and, for once, dishing out some justice up on the hill. Considering the number of drunken, disorderly, abusive and ill-behaved athletes who have gone unpunished for serious offenses, it is a breath of fresh air for somebody to finally pay the price.

If there is any shadow cast over Long’s much-deserved firing of the head football coach, it is the rhetorical question; what the hell was he supposed to do anyway? Petrino managed to antagonize the media by his blatant misrepresentations and put Long in a similar frame of mind. The circumstances around Ms. Dorrell’s hiring put the University in a bad light and at a serious risk of legal action. My opinion is that the risk continues, although the candidates who were interviewed by not hired probably do not want to incur the damage frequently associated with a discrimination lawsuit.

Yes, Jeff Long did the right thing. Whether it was a courageous decision remains to be seen. Was there any real opposition among Trustees of the Razorback Foundation? Petrino was a cancer that needed to be excised in speedy fashion. Good for Jeff Long.

At the time, I was downright exuberant. I tweeted something to the effect that Long may have led Arkansas into the 21st century. This is based on a long-standing tendency to protect whatever mediocrity or dishonesty is being perpetrated on the good people of Arkansas. We tend to protect our bad boys. It is part of the Arkansas “circle the wagons” defensive mechanism designed to protect us from outsiders, Yanks, liberals, and other dangerous scoundrels. Some of it is just plain old-fashioned prideful stubbornness.

The morning after that very uplifting press conference in which the Athletic Director soared with yelps of righteous anger and swooped with barely concealed tears, there was a very rude awakening. Our legislative leaders, the best Arkansas can provide to oversee state government, pretty much ratified an unthinkably one-sided contract between the Lottery Commission and Ernie Passailaigue and some crony contractors.

Why would we stand up for some bow-tie wearing snob from South Carolina and his pals from even more distant places? Thinking about it just wears me out. That somebody did not pull the plug on these highly suspect contracts is a mystery and one is left wondering, where is Jeff Long when we really need him?

The underlying question is even more to the point. Where is justice? Maybe there is a new day dawning. We have had a little taste of how it feels when the abusers get a little dose of what they dish out with no thought of ever being held accountable. I am not asking for bloodthirsty vengeance, just a little respect for those of us who pay the bills.


About patlynch
I am a broadcaster in Arkansas, a former freelance writer and political columnist in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Writing Coach. Speaker. Director of the Christian Foundations for Ministry program, and presently enrolled in the Anglican School of Ministry Master of Ministry program.

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