Saturday, August 28, 2010

Gork Hammered By A Dork

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

I have been to Fayetteville, Arkansas once to see the Razorbacks play a basketball game at the old Barnhill Arena (10,000 capacity) and I have to say that these are some of the most passionate college fans in the country.

During my hoops game, these folks had to have sore feet because they stood-up the majority of the contest and the energy is enormous.

But the Razorbacks energy took on an entire new meaning earlier this month, when in my view there was an over-reaction when an Arkansas radio personality was fired recently for wearing a Florida Gators hat to a Hogs press conference.

Two days after wearing the Gators hat, Renee Gork was fired by KAKS, a northwest Arkansas radio station that calls itself Hog Sports Radio.

Last season, Arkansas lost to the Gators 23-20 at Florida, and Hogs Coach Bobby Petrino commented on Gork's hat after answering a question she asked. He told her, "And that's the last question I will answer with that hat on."

Gork said that she grabbed the hat without thinking because it was raining outside and also sent a letter of apology to the university and Petrino. She was even going to apologize publicly on the radio but never got that chance because she was fired.

I know that the station is Hog Sports Radio, is very biased and support the Razorbacks 100%, but please, the woman made an honest mistake and owned up to it.

What bothers me about the entire decision is the man who made a big deal about the situation is anything but perfect.

In 2007, Petrino abruptly resigned from the Atlanta Falcons and didn't finish out the season. He was 3-10. Petrino quit on his players and the organization which paid him millions of dollars to try to make them a winner. He informed his players through a note of explanation in the locker-room instead of having the guts to talk to them directly that he felt more comfortable in college.

You talk about professionalism, who is Petrino to criticize anyone when he makes a boneheaded move like this?

I'll never forget the first time that I started covering FAU Sports.

I was interviewing Tennessee Titans QB Rusty Smith. He asked me where my college ring was from. I told him the University of South Florida. It just so happened that FAU was going to play USF in Fort Lauderdale that season.

Smith asked me who I was rooting for? I told him the truth. My allegiances are to USF but if you win, that won't bother me at all.

USF did win a close game in what was one of the most difficult contests that I've ever sat through. I bit my finger nails so bad that they were bleeding and my heartbeat was moving faster than open-wheel indy cars. I told Smith I wanted to see a competitive game and that's what I got.

FAU Sports Information Director Katrina McCormack and I used to joke around about my USF connections all the time and she politely asked me out of respect not to wear my alma-mater's attire around the university especially when they faced each other.

Of course, I had no problem with that, but I told her that the ring stays on my finger. She smiled and had no problems with that.

Former FAU Baseball Coach Kevin Cooney and I used to joke around about when these two teams faced each other and he would tell me that it must be a tough night for you. I admitted to him it was and yes, the finger nails took a beating.

But his pitching coach was Tony Fossas (2005-2008) who also attended USF. I did write a story on Fossas and we had a great time.

The bottom line is I understand there is a fine line to the area where you work and what your collegiate loyalties are, but Gork did try to take the high road, but the dork Petrino, who took the low road in Atlanta, should have cut her a little slack. He's anything but perfect.

Even an ESPN Sports Nation Poll asked a question as to whether Gork should have been fired for wearing a Gators hat. Of the 5,375 votes, 72% said no and 28% said yes.

As we enter another college football season, the only time these two teams could meet is if they play in the SEC Championship Game since they don't face each other during the regular season.

If they do meet in the SEC Championship Game, there is no doubt that the absurd end of the Gork situation would over shadow the game.

If anything good does come out of this, perhaps Gator Nation will give Gork a job at the university or a Gainesville radio station will hire her.

Scott Morganroth's Blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com and he can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com.

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