Fans of embattled Arkansas University football coach Bobby Petrino came out with a banner at a support rally Monday saying that Jesus saved Petrino, who was involved in a motorcycle crash, and are now pleading with Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long to follow Christ's example and forgive the coach for an alleged extra-marital affair.
Petrino, 51,veered off a two-lane highway two weekends ago, and a state trooper transported him to a hospital where he was treated for minor injuries. After his release from the hospital, however, Petrino admitted that he had a passenger with him – 25-year-old Jessica Dorrell, a football program employee who the coach hired for a position on May 28. Allegations have risen pointing to an affair between Dorrell, who was uninjured in the crash, and Petrino, who is married, prompting Long to put the football coach on administrative leave.
Arkansas fans have stood up for their coach and are pleading with Long to show forgiveness in his ongoing review of Petrino's position. According to ArkansasSports360.com, several Facebook pages have popped up in support of Petrino, and one, titled "Team Save Coach Petrino," drew 200 students to a protest at the university campus Monday night. They held up a banner brought by Sylvia Schlegel, a student, that read: "Accept Apology and FORGIVE. Jesus Saved Bobby ... Jeff .... You Can Too."
The rally's organizer, Marr Couch, said the event was not a sign of approval of Petrino's alleged extra-marital affair, but a plea to the school board to show forgiveness and keep the talented coach in charge of the football team.
Under Petrino's leadership, the Arkansas team has won an impressive 21 games over the past three seasons – which Couch admits is one of the main reasons why he has not yet been removed, and why so many are in his support.
"If they won seven games would we be saying the same thing? Probably not," Couch said. "There's probably a chance we wouldn't even be having this rally because that decision would have already been made."
"Our program was going down, down, down,'' added another fan, Jimmie Wilson. ''When he got here, he's just brought it back to the level it should be. I think we have a really good chance this year to be at the top."
Other Arkansas fans, however, have not been in favor of the rally, nor the Jesus banner in support of Petrino.
"I am a lifelong Arkansas fan and that is quite possibly the stupidest image I have ever seen in relation to anything related to Arkansas athletics. What an embarrassment," wrote a user named "prairiehogcompanion" commenting on the AkransasSports360.com article.