Thursday, April 12, 2012

Leopard Spotting

The urban legend that makes me laugh the loudest is the one about people and change. You know the old refrain, "I know I have behaved badly in the past. But that was then. This is the new me. I have changed." It is the lie told by those who practice the revolting art of domestic violence to those upon whom they ply their craft. Tragically, too often it is the lie that those who are repeatedly victimized tell themselves - not about themselves - but about their tormentor.

Here is the straight skinny on that lie and all of the iterations and shadings of that psychobabble bullshit: it simply is not true. Human beings are animals. Animals are creatures of habit. More often that not, when push comes to shove human beings will act in a manner that is familiar to them irrespective of whether (a) the familiar path is the best available option then and there presenting itself; or (b) the familiar approach is one that has failed previously. "Nonsense!", you say. Sadly, it is not.

While people typically speak of recidivism in a criminal justice context - specifically with sex offenders - it can be applied to any number of behaviors and situations. The cliche, "the Devil you know is better than the Devil you don't know" has achieved cliche status because it contains more than a mere scintilla of truth. “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” Disagree with me all you want to but understand that you have stepped up immeasurably in weight class when you opt to go toe-to-toe with Professor Einstein.

You shall therefore have to forgive me for my inability to even feign surprise or a reasonable facsimile thereof over the self-immolation of deposed University of Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino. By all accounts, Coach Petrino is a first-rate football coach. Unfortunately, he has consistently posted lower scores as a human being:

When you hire Bobby Petrino, you get something other than the truth. This is why the nation is laughing at the University of Arkansas right now. The state's flagship university is shocked to discover that its lying-weasel football coach is a lying weasel.

Petrino's history of lying is well-documented, but for those who have not been paying attention, which may include Arkansas administrators, here is a summary: When Petrino coached Louisville, he lied repeatedly about his interest in other jobs (some of which he interviewed for). He left for the Atlanta Falcons, then left that job before a season ended, one of the few absolute no-nos in a sometimes ruthless profession.

Tuesday night, slightly more than a week after an April Fool's Day motorcycle accident brought to light an "inappropriate relationship" (his words - not mine) that the Hogs' football coach had been engaged in with a young woman who he, said football coach, had just hired to a position (for which more than 150 people had applied) on the football staff that carries with it an annual salary of approximately $55,000, Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long fired said football coach. In his statement to the media Tuesday night Long said - among other things:

"He made the decision, a conscious decision, to mislead the public on Tuesday, and in doing so negatively and adversely affected the reputation of the University of Arkansas and our football program," Long said, choking up at one point as he discussed telling players that their coach was gone. "In short, coach Petrino engaged in a pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior designed to deceive me and members of the athletic staff, both before and after the motorcycle accident."

Forgive my hardheartedness but I shall weep not one tear for the administration at the University of Arkansas. On Tuesday they fired the same man - the very same man - they had pilfered from his previous job in mid-season. Petrino is now who he was then. The only thing that has changed is that four years ago, the Hogs cared not one pig's ass about the carnage that was clearly visible in Petrino's rear-view mirror as he headed on up to road to Fayetteville. Suddenly, they care a great, great deal.

People do not change. Perspective does. Same as it always was. Same as it always shall be.


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