It turns out that we've been looking at the question the wrong way all along.
You know, that question: does a tree that falls in the forest when there's no one around make noise?
A tree that doesn't make a noise when it falls down is just a tree that Paul Petrino has made disappear.
The least famous—though maybe not for long if he keeps it up—of college football's Petrino brothers has had himself a week. He started by just about fighting a certain Michael-Shawn Dugar, a news sports editor with the Moscow-Pullman Daily News who had been critical of the Idaho Vandals. "You don't even know what the (expletive) you're talking about! Do your (expletive) job!", Petrino reportedly told the man.
Turns out that the 48-year-old was only getting warmed up.
But Wait, There's More
On August 27, Josh Babcock of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported that the Vandals head coach had made three of his players' shoplifting allegations go away. The cause? Petrino had brought back the roughly $400 worth of clothes that the players had reportedly taken from the Idaho University VandalStore.
If the clothes that were missing are then not missing anymore, then there's no need to press charges, right? That's what Petrino was going for, apparently.
Setting aside the easy joke about stealing and this team being the Vandals, let's say that you shouldn't see this as Petrino's Robin Hood moment quite yet: he's not giving back to those who have little, in this case the official UI merchandise store.
It's a thin line to walk for the head coach. On the one hand, you want to say that it's good of him to show some leniency toward his players; stealing is bad, but bringing charges over something seemingly as minor as stealing "four t-shirts, a jacket and a pair of shorts" could have dramatic consequences for the three players involved.
Plus, Petrino has said the right things. "The situation has been handled and (the players) are being internally disciplined," he said. "I don't think there is any special treatment at all."
And perhaps he is right.
Help Me Help You, Coach Petrino
On the other hand, not releasing the name of his three players would seem to suggest that maybe there is special treatment somewhere.
That's what the press will point out, yes, especially if Petrino continues his shouting match. The press will say that Petrino isn't standing up for his players, but rather that he's coddling them. That he's enabling them and helping them avoid having to answer for their (relatively minor, yes) offenses and crimes. Three arrests at Idaho, yes, but maybe Petrino just made the others disappear?
The press will say that a man who yells at someone for having critiqued the team, that maybe that person isn't the best role model for college kids. That maybe that someone isn't responding well to the scrutiny that comes with his first head coaching job, despite the fact that Jeff Long and others have vouched for him in the past.
In a typical case, the press would say that a coach in Petrino's shoes probably can't wait for the new season to start—except that the Idaho Vandals are atypical, with a 2-21 record in the two years under their new head coach.
In this case, Coach Petrino, don't yell at us or the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. We're just letting the facts speak for themselves; and the facts are plenty loud. At least you're Florida State though, right? That's something.