by Max Brantley
I raised a series of questions this morning about how State Police Capt. Lance King came to be involved in helping Hog coach Bobby Petrino to the hospital, including questions aimed at determining whether he knew Petrino had company and whether King had counseled Good Samaritan motorists about giving information to reporters. The people who first picked up Petrino after his motorcycle accident in Madison County have denied to the press that Petrino had female companionship in their car. In fact, a staff member, Jessica Dorrell was with him because she'd been riding with him that day.
The questions will be answered, but not today. This statement just arrived from the State Police:
On Thursday afternoon (April 5, 2012) the Arkansas State Police completed its investigation of the motor-vehicle crash involving Robert Petrino and Jessica Dorrell.
Subsequently public inquiries have arisen asking the State Police to offer answers to questions relating to the sequence of events which precipitated State Police Captain Lance King to respond to the Fayetteville location where he met Coach Petrino and any information Captain King may have learned about the crash during conversations with Coach Petrino.
While the inquiries have no direct correlation to the investigation of the motor vehicle crash, the questions are legitimate and worthy of answers.
This afternoon (Friday, April 6, 2012) Captain King has been asked by his supervisor to provide a detailed summary of his involvement with Coach Petrino and other individuals who’ve been identified within the crash investigation.
It is the intention of the Arkansas State Police to have information from the summary which may be shared with the public early next week. What information will be released will depend on what facts Captain King provides to his supervisor.
The State Police did release today crash scene photos and a recording of the 911 call I mentioned earlier in which a State Police dispatcher heard a report that a man and a woman were taken from the crash scene to a hospital. Petrino said in a statement the university distributed Sunday and again on at least two occasions Tuesday that he was alone. The revelation that he'd lied and his statement referring to an "inappropriate relationship" of an unspecified nature as an excuse for attemping to shield his staff member from publicity led to his administrative suspension by Athletic Director Jeff Long. The recording, posted here by Channel 4, is solid proof that the presence of a woman with Petrino was in the public domain almost from the minute the accident happened. Did that news reach UA ears before Thursday? It's an important question.
King was not dispatched at the report of the accident, but was called to meet the car carrying Petrino at a point in Fayetteville where Dorrell was dropped off at her car. It's unclear who called King — Petrino or Dorrell. If Dorrell, King would clearly have to have known she was involved and that gives rise to the question of whether he subsequently spoke to anyone in the University of Arkansas athletic structure about events. As Petrino's security escort at football games, King is intimately wired into the athletic program. As commander of Troop L, based in Springdale, he also oversees the division in which the accident was investigated. The facts are, of course, that the report on the wreck detailing Dorrell's presence was released, if four days after the accident.
The tangled web here will be unwoven, but it may take a little while.
Meanwhile, assistant football coach Taver Johnson met briefly with the media today and reporters got some access to the team. Photo below is from Fox 16. I'm looking for coverage from Arkansas Sports 360, but I assume the coach and team's thoughts and prayers are with their leader and his family at this difficult time, they are focused on the task at hand, that they intend to play within themselves, yet be inspired to even greater effort because when the going gets tough, well, you know. Transcript of his press avail follows on the jump.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The following transcript is from Friday’s media availability with University of Arkansas Football Assistant Head Coach/Linebacker Coach Taver Johnson:
“Good afternoon. First of all, I’d like to say that I’m overly excited and extremely proud of this football team. The leadership that we have in our locker room is tremendous. Our guys have done a great job and making sure that we get together and unite. We’ve done an excellent job all day preparing for a big day today. We’re going to have a full-blown scrimmage. We’re going to play the game like it’s supposed to be played, in our stadium, in Razorback stadium. We are extremely excited about that. Last night, I was informed about the situation in terms of having some leadership for our football team. In that we’ve all, in the coach staff, and the players, understood our rolls and are extremely excited about being able to go out and represent all of Razorback nation. Since Coach Petrino’s accident, our main focus has been our football team. Throughout spring, our main focus has been the football team. Nothing has changed in that regard. I’m extremely proud of our guys’ effort, the leadership we have in that locker room, and I’m ready to get out on that field and represent our state.”
On the message Bobby Petrino gave to him: “I haven’t had much contact with coach. I know he’s hurting internally, so I really haven’t had much conversation with him there. However, our conversations leading up to this day, we all understand the expectations and goals we set out for our team. That will definitely exude through all of us.”
On how the scrimmage will be operated: “I want to operate it as if coach was here. Myself as well as the other coaches, all together, are ready to go.”
On his time at Ohio State leading up to this: “I don’t know if you can ever prepare. When you’re going through tough situations, any kind of adversity you’ve been through, prepares you mentally and makes you step into a leadership role like all of our coaches have done.”
A combined team meeting: “We have had a meeting. We had that today. It was very quick, very brief. Our players got together and really did most of that. We broke down into individual meetings and went on as usual to get ready for the scrimmage.”
Reaction to Coach Petrino’s statements yesterday: “I think it was a human reaction, like everyone else. It’s something that happened, and all of us are probably trying to ask questions and things like that, but I think the human element came out. Right now, we don’t have any facts, we can’t place any blame. We have to let our administration, who’s done a great job gathering all of the information, take care of that.”
On Coach Petrino’s job: “I don’t know if that is a question I can answer right away. You never come to work and feel that way. The only thing you can be concerned about is coming here and doing the best job you can for the University.”
His role as head coach: “My role is to act as head coach, I’m also coaching the linebackers. We have a scrimmage today and I’ve got to get ready to coach those guys up and get ready to go.”
His duties as coach: “Coach Petrino cannot be here, but we can still have conversations with him. It shouldn’t be a problem that way, but we’re going to go on as business as usual. We’re going to get our guys ready and make sure were doing the right things like going to class, and when it’s time to practice, and play, well make sure we are attacking.”
Have you discussed what would happen if Coach Petrino were let go: “No, we haven’t discussed that at all. That is something that we can’t get into until the administration takes care of that. You can’t go about business that way when you’re in the football world. You have to attack the moment, and that is the scrimmage we have coming up.”