Bobby Petrino does an emotional first interview since being fired from Arkansas

Graham Watson

In his first interview since being fired from Arkansas in April, former coach Bobby Petrino expressed remorse and regret regarding the actions that led to his dismissal.

Petrino told ESPN reporter Joe Schad he didn't know why he started an affair with former Arkansas volleyball player Jessica Dorrell or why he hired her to be the student-athlete coordinator, but that he's trying to make amends for his decisions and keep his family together.

"I have played it over and over in my head a million times," Petrino told ESPN. "How could I do this? How could this happen? And not just the hiring. Or that day. But my actions, my behavior - for months it was just wrong.

"How could I put what we had in jeopardy? This is what I wake up early every morning thinking about, what I lay in bed thinking about. Why?"

Petrino's downfall at Arkansas began after he lied about Dorrell being a passenger on a motorcycle he crashed. It was later disclosed that Petrino had been having an affair with Dorrell and had kept that information from his family and superiors at Arkansas, even though he had hired her to work for him.

The lying and total disregard for protocol and his bosses gave Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long no choice but to fire Petrino, leaving the successful coach without a job, without $21 million in potential earnings and having to repair the damage he had done to his family.

"I had an affair," Petrino said. "I cheated on my wife. I knew there were consequences that were going to happen. I knew that I had this facing me. That I had to tell my wife, I had to tell my boss."

Petrino said he had planned to tell his wife, Becky, and Long about the affair right after the accident, but was too banged up and incoherent to do so. He was, however, coherent enough to ask officer Lance King, who took Petrino to the hospital, whether information about the passenger on his motorcycle would be on the police report.

He told Schad he planned to talk to his wife and Long on Friday ahead of the police report being released, but said the report, which was released Thursday, came out a day before he expected it.

"I really wanted to do it in the right order and in person, but the timeline just got away," he said.

Petrino said he'd like to get back into coaching again, though he knows he has to repair his image. He had a reputation for being disloyal that came before he even got to Arkansas. While he was the coach at Louisville, he secretly interviewed at Auburn, and he left the NFL's Atlanta Falcons for the Razorbacks before the 2007 NFL season was complete.

Still, Petrino thinks this experience will make him a better coach and a better man. Petrino and Becky are in counseling and he's trying to repair his relationships with his kids. He's also trying to repair his public persona simply by doing this interview (which I'm not sure worked).

"I've made mistakes and I'm going to be a better person for it," Petrino said. "I'm going to keep my life in better balance. And I really feel I'll be a better coach because this happened, because now I know that I'm going to coach the person as much as the player and help the person who has made mistakes, help him understand that he is not going to be defined by the mistakes he has made but how he reacts to it and overcomes it."

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