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The Double Standard

Contrast if you will the way the media has treated Bobby Petrino and Rich Rodriguez in their respective sudden job moves.

Petrino pull up stakes with three games left on the Atlanta Falcons schedule and took the Arkansas job. He offered a short letter of resignation and walked away from what is widely regarded as the biggest mess of any team in the NFL. ESPN and the rest of the media villified Petrino for it and according to one Arkansas paper, Sean Salisbury said recruits should not even think about playing for Petrino.

Rodriguez decided to take the Michigan job despite telling the West Virginia fans last season when he turned down Alabama that he would be there for a long time. Of course in this day and age that is taken with a grain of salt. Rodriguez on his way out the door in Morganton first called a prize QB recruit to inform him of the change who then leaked it to Rodriguez then met with his players for about 10 minutes and had a graduate assistant hand his resignation letter to the athletic director. Outside of local media in West Virginia I have yet to see on ESPN or any other national media outlet a single negative word about how Rodriguez handled his exit from WVU.

Now there are two distinct issues. The first is the job change itself and in both cases I have zero issues with the respective coaches making the moves they made. Michigan is an elite college football job and Rodriguez can hardly be faulted for taking it. Petrino was in an untenable situation in Atlanta and instead of waiting around to be fired he probably did Atlanta a favor by leaving so they could go about the business of finding a coach more capable of handling an NFL rebuilding project.

The second issue involves the manner in which each coach left. Petrino basically just up and left. The players called him a coward and he chose not to even finish the season which had people portraying him as a quitter. For all of this he has been raked over the coals so many times you will probably be able to see the scars on his neck when he takes the sideline for the Arkansas spring game next year. As for Rodriguez there is little difference in the way he chose to leave Morganton versus what Petrino did. Rodriguez did not even have the class or courage to face his boss and resign. When the deal was done he was more interested in making sure a recruit knew before the players with whom he had been with for years. Rodriguez was as much a coward if not more so than Petrino and yet the media has been awfully quiet.

If I was into conspiracy theories I might say that ESPN in particular is being careful not to upset the balance of their relationship with the Big10/Pac10/Rose Bowl contingent. Perhaps ESPN is more concerned about how those people might respond than the fans of a middle tier SEC school. At any rate Petrino is cast as evil and self absorbed while Rodriguez is seen as pursuing a can't miss coaching opportunity ignoring the assurances he made in the past and the fact he abandoned a team with a huge game left to play