…Why is it doing this and why will it not just crop my image to 8.5 x 11?
Duh! Because your image does not have an 8.5 : 11 aspect ratio.
You're trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
So what is the best way to prepare this image for printing at 8.5x11? What do you do in a situation like this?
If your image is already done, you have two choices:
1.— Crop it down to an 8.5 x 11 ratio. Yes, you will lose a wide band of your image, discarding a bunch of pixels; or
2.— Add white bands on two of the sides to reach the 8.5 x 11 aspect aspect.
Next time create your image in an 8.5x11 aspect from scratch.
In your example, you would have needed an image that was 72,542 pixels/inches/or cm wide, and 93,877 pixels/inches/or cm high, depending on what units you are dealing, about which we have no idea since you only indicate "72.542W x 44.472H" which is utterly meaningless.
In my decades-long experience with Photoshop and Illustrator forums, anytime anyone asks "So what is the best way to…", that's a clear sign that the person asking that question has absolutely no clue and doesn't know where to begin. You actually mean "how is this done".
Don't be discouraged, just learn Photoshop from the ground up. Now, Photoshop is just a tool, you have to have the wherewithal in photography, illustration and art to be able to use the tool adequately.
Google for tutorials, watch the tutorial videos at Adobe TV, read books, take a Photoshop class at a community college, etc. Google is your friend.
Photoshop is a professional level application that makes no apologies for its very long and steep learning curve.
…What do you do in a situation like this?
I would never find myself "in a situation like this". Sorry.
But I'd follow what i just typed in my previous post.