Hey, Hogs: Don't bet farm on coach

Blind-sided was the operative word out of Flowery Branch, Ga., on the NFL's Tuesday of unrest.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank was described as "blind-sided" by Bobby Petrino's cover-of-night escape to Arkansas in the hours after he vouched for his future during Monday Night Football .

Then Falcons chatterbox DeAngelo Hall uttered the term again on ESPN after watching the hysterical late-night hog callin' news conference introducing Petrino as the Razorbacks coach.

"To just get blind-sided by this, nobody could have ever told me this could happen," Hall said.

Nobody was blind-sided. They were apparently just blind.

That Petrino beat a hasty retreat from Atlanta and the NFL back into the collegiate ranks was the most obvious and true-to-form thing the coach has done since arriving in town more than 11 months ago. I cannot verify reports that Petrino was seen getting off a plane in Northwest Arkansas with his pants actually on fire, but if nobody in the Falcons organization saw this coming, then they are in more trouble than we previously thought.

Petrino is a habitual quitter and a serial liar. He is a coaching philanderer, and anyone who lays down with this dog deserves whatever fleas he gets. All Petrino has ever done is eyeball the next opportunity the minute he beds his victims.

Arkansas should be worried. Because Petrino has it in him to make another move before he ever coaches a game there. If Les Miles follows the trend and jumps to Michigan right after LSU whips Ohio State in the BCS Championship Game, Petrino could trot out his Mayflower-worn wife, Becky, and two youngest children in another euphoric introduction in Baton Rouge by Jan. 8 -- the anniversary date of his Louisville betrayal that brought him to Atlanta. That would be a world-record four head coaching jobs in one year. There are NASCAR hat-changers who can't keep up with this guy.

Clearly, Blank is a tremendous judge of character. (Sadly, the poor rich man probably believes that wasn't facetious.)

Blank has made three consecutive bad decisions regarding his head coaches and one major blunder in quarterback assessment. He's so bad at this employee evaluation thing that he might actually think that Tuesday's news wasn't the best thing to happen to his beleaguered franchise all season. Petrino was a failure from day one, even if he never got a fair chance to prove just how genuine a flop he could be under the best of circumstances.

Sadly, Blank isn't the only one blind to this yahoo's flaws. Petrino's greatest asset is that he has everyone fooled into thinking he's some kind of coaching savant instead of the traveling snake-oil salesman that he is.

The Falcons hired him in spite of statistical evidence from his previous NFL experience showing how the Jacksonville Jaguars and its offense got incrementally worse in each of the three seasons Petrino was their offensive coordinator. The TV nabobs keep touting his brilliance that was displayed in a 41-9 record at Louisville, when the truth is he produced gaudy numbers in a conference so lame that it keeps revealing "geniuses" at football factory places such as Rutgers, South Florida and Connecticut.

If you could get him to sit still for more than five minutes, Petrino would make a fine collegiate offensive coordinator. But the fact is he is a miserable leader with lousy character. He couldn't hide those pathetic attributes in the exposure of the NFL.

Petrino notified the players who had lost faith in him that he was abandoning them via a note. He used the telephone to tell the man who gave him $5 million a year to take his job and shove it with three games left in the season.

"If I saw him in the street I wouldn't have anything to say to him," Hall told ESPN.

Beyond the way Petrino and his family were subjected to participate in choruses of "Woo Pig Sooey" or that he referred to Razorback coaching icon Frank Broyles as "Broyle," the most hysterical part of the Arkansas press spectacle was the disingenuous language being flung about with feigned sincerity.

Words such as "accountability" and "responsibility" and "class" and "dignity" were used to describe Petrino. The most uproarious part was when athletic director Jeff Long said Petrino was "committed to building on a foundation," as if he's ever reached the framing part of program construction.

Petrino then said it was "certainly going to be exciting to make this our home" and called ditching the NFL for the Southeastern Conference an "easy decision." He said the same thing Jan. 8 in Atlanta shortly after pledging his undying allegiance to Louisville by saying "this is where I want to be."

Leaving is always a very easy decision for scheming weasels like Petrino. Granted he was dealt a rotten hand in Atlanta and maybe should be given credit for recognizing he was in way over his head. But real leaders don't run from adversity and don't lie openly to the people who trust them.

Those sycophants who were drooling all over Petrino in Arkansas will learn soon enough that they made a huge mistake investing their $3 million and trust in this loser. He will be just as bad a leader and just as far over his head in the SEC as he was in the NFL.

It won't take long for his true colors to show and his feet to start itching again. Just wait until he figures out that Darren McFadden won't be back in 2008.

Like Atlanta, Arkansas one day will be better off without him. It will come sooner than the Razorbacks can imagine.

Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219 or scott.michaux@augustachronicle.com.

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