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SEC Athletic Directors: Time To Hold Your Nose, Hire Petrino

Maybe SEC presidents and ADs simply want no part of someone who lost his job via scandal.

Maybe the boards of trustees and regents across the conference just can’t imagine dealing with the negative fallout that would come with making such a hire.

Maybe the league’s leaders have quietly agreed to blackball the man who built up Louisville and Arkansas only to tear down his own career with some very poor choices last spring.

Or maybe word has gotten around that most players at Louisville, Atlanta and Arkansas didn’t care much for their ex-coach.  (They didn’t.)

Whatever the reason for SEC athletic directors at Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee have for ignoring Bobby Petrino… they need to get over it.  Petrino wins.  And in a sporting world where schools jump leagues for a shiny, thin dime and BCS-winning coaches can get ousted just two years after winning said championship, wins are really all that matters.

Oh, stop your moralizing.

I’ve got news for you.  You’re a sinner.  You’ve got faults galore.  You’re no more moral than the guy who crashed his motorcycle back in April.  Your sins might be different from his, sure, but sins they still are.  And there’s no passage in your Bible to suggest Sin #3 is greater than Sin #9.  You’re flawed, this writer’s flawed, and I’m pretty sure even Mark Richt is flawed (and he’d be the first to tell you that).

Petrino messed around on his wife.  That’s business that should stay between him, his wife and his family.  You don’t know what was involved in that deal and you shouldn’t pop off about it.  Or even worry about it.

If your school is looking to hire a monk, call up a search firm in Tibet.  Otherwise, just stick to the won/lost record, please.  Everyone from King David to current generals to past presidents to that poor actress from “Twilight” has had moral lapses.  That’s not a defense, mind you.  That’s just a statement of fact.

Now, Petrino hired his mistress at Arkansas and that opened up his university and his immediate boss, AD Jeff Long, to all kinds of criticism and — potentially — even lawsuits.  Arkansas had no choice but to fire him for that.  Employees don’t stay employed when they lie to their bosses.  Especially when they embarrass their bosses in the process.

But Petrino isn’t likely to try to hire any other mistress at any new job he might land.  The man simply can’t be dumb enough to go down that road twice.  So there shouldn’t be any worry from an athletic director or president or board or fanbase on that front at all.

The only reason I personally would have concerns about hiring the man is the fact he’s wound up making everyone who’s ever hired him regret it:

 

*  Tommy Tuberville hired him at Auburn and then Petrino wound up trying to snake Tuberville’s job.

*  Louisville AD Tom Jurich defended Petrino when “Jetgate” made national news and Petrino repaid him by jumping to the Atlanta Falcons.

*  Arthur Blank was flabbergasted to learn that Petrino had accepted the Arkansas job and would leave his team with three games left to play in its season.  (Leaving goodbye notes for his Falcons players was akin to shouting “So long, suckers” as he grabbed the last parachute and beat everyone else to the door of a crashing plane.)

*  Then came Long whose still in “coaching search” mode eight months after Petrino blew up Arkansas’ season.

 

But that worry — that Petrino might hastily exit a program and leave it in shambles — shouldn’t really be that much of a worry anymore.  Petrino wants to coach again.  He has zero leverage in contract negotiations.  Anyone bringing him in could lock him into a deal so ironclad that he’d have to pay millions upon millions if he were to try to open an escape hatch.

So what should be the biggest worry about the man really shouldn’t be a worry to Jay Jacobs at Auburn, Mitch Barnhart at Kentucky, or Dave Hart at Tennessee.

And if you’re still worrying that he might mess around with someone on the side, here’s some news for you: You’re going to have to worry about the trustworthiness of anyone you hire.  Anyone.  Assuming, of course, you plan on hiring a human being.

Look, if you want a jolly fellow who’ll serve as a good moral compass then pick up the phone and see if Jimmy Sexton has the Buddha on his roster of clients.  Otherwise, get off your high horse, take hold of your nose, put cotton in your ears to avoid hearing about two weeks of bad ESPN press, and hire Petrino.

The man wins games and that equals money and that’s clearly all that matters in the current sports landscape.  You can’t even try to deny that money is all that matters at this point, so don’t bother.

Petrino’s players don’t have to like him (they usually don’t) and he doesn’t require great recruiting classes to win games (his five classes at Arkansas were ranked 36, 16, 49, 24, and 34 by Rivals.com while his overall record was 34-17 with three bowl trips).

Someone will eventually give Petrino the Silkwood treatment and hose off all the radioactivity surrounding him.  Whoever does that will watch his football program turn around lickety-split.  And he shouldn’t have to worry about the coach abandoning him anytime soon.

As for those moral concerns, if you can find someone who lives a perfectly moral life, go ahead and hire him.  And cross your fingers that his Holiness the Dalai Lama knows the difference between a zone blitz and a slant pattern.

 


27 comments
JHP2354
JHP2354

Reasons not to hire Petrino, Mr. Pennington you said it best:

 

*  Tommy Tuberville hired him at Auburn and then Petrino wound up trying to snake Tuberville’s job.

*  Louisville AD Tom Jurich defended Petrino when “Jetgate” made national news and Petrino repaid him by jumping to the Atlanta Falcons.

*  Arthur Blank was flabbergasted to learn that Petrino had accepted the Arkansas job and would leave his team with three games left to play in its season.  (Leaving goodbye notes for his Falcons players was akin to shouting “So long, suckers” as he grabbed the last parachute and beat everyone else to the door of a crashing plane.)

*  Then came Long whose still in “coaching search” mode eight months after Petrino blew up Arkansas’ season.

 

Everyone who has hired him has suffered for it, but now you feel it won't happen again. He is a four time loser, and I don't want Tennessee to be his next victim.

rogun
rogun

John, has your attitude toward Petrino changed since he's no longer Arkansas' coach? Sure seems that way.

 

I couldn't read your entire piece, but I agreed with most of it. The one thing I'd disagree with is your assumption that Petrino isn't dumb enough to do it again, because who ever would have thought he was dumb enough to do it once? I mean, it's not like he didn't have good reason to be careful before wrecking his motorcycle. His reputation was already in shambles everywhere outside of Arkansas and all he did was add Arkansas to the list. What makes you think he won't do it again?

 

The funny thing is that I don't think Arkansas should have fired him, but as an Arkansas fan, I almost hope some other SEC school does, because I fully expect something similar will happen in his 4th year at that school.

SevierVol
SevierVol

I don't think that Petrino would be or should be the top choice of any AD, there is just too much to lose if the hire doesen't work out. However, if I couldn't land one of the coaches on my short list, I would certainly hire him as oppossed to a coach with "potential". I think the SEC has proven that it's simply too difficult a league for any on the job training. Where ever  Petrino eventually ends up, it will not be a popular choice for a large portion of the fan base. But, everyone loves a winner and the detractors would eventually be won over when the victories started piling up.

Tennessee fans pretty much knew from day one that Lane Kiffin was a complete jerk who tight-roped the gray area where rules were concerned. But he seemed to be a great recruiter and appeared to have assembled a good coaching staff so fans were okay with looking the other way. He was a jerk but he was "our" jerk. We had hopes that he could improve the program so we overlooked the flaws that was so obvious to non UT fans. Despite his prima-dona, arrogant attitude, he would  be wildly popular  had he stayed at UT and produced a winner.

.

Hiring Petrino would leave a bitter taste in a lot of fans mouths, but  the vast majority of these fans will be more than willing to forgive and forget when the wins come. Since John's column had religious overtones, I will add the following: As long as he could produce SEC and National Championships on a regular basis, most fans would be willing to accept Lucifer himself as their coach.,   .

HoustonVol
HoustonVol

I don't think Hart would be desperate enough to go and hire Petrino. Remember Hart is dealing with a lot of issues merging the woman's and men's athletic departments, including a couple of lawsuits are being thrown around Knoxville. How would it look for him to hire someone who pulled strings to hire his mistress, lied to his AD, and opened up the school for lawsuits? Yes Petrino can win, and he has never had issues with the NCAA. However Petrino is a high risk hire - not something that Hart is looking to make. He has put the hiring of the new coach firmly on his shoulders - no committee, search firm, etc. He knows that if this football hire blows up, he will be out the door quickly. I don't think that Hart has the political backing with the powers to be to make this hire. There are already a lot of the fan base calling for his head (though I have not seen one issue with any of the public decisions he has made). So don't expect Hart to go out on a limb with this hire.

buddha22
buddha22

I don't advocate stoning him, but I would have to be very desperate to hire him.

MrBingle
MrBingle

An AD would have to be more desperate than a sailor on a 4-hour pass to cozy up to Petrino!

Fayettechill14
Fayettechill14

The last time anyone tried to go with Arkansas' Sloppy Seconds, Ole Miss ended up with Nutt.

 

Anyone else wanna go for it?

GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

I think you make a good point in that there are ways to mitigate the risk but I also think that when you bring someone into your program with a well known history of deceit and corruption like Petrino, your potential liability goes up exponentially. If it does come down to a lawsuit, you're likely to be hit with higher punitive damages simply because it could be argued that the administration should've known better and proceeded anyway. You might be right that he gets another top, regional job but the AD is going to have to accept that he's sticking his neck way, way out there.

kentatm
kentatm

I have to disagree with the idea Petrino is worth the risk.  He is a good coach but he leaves nothing but lies and deceit in his wake.  There are other good coaches that can be had.  Petrino does not deserve another SEC job ever again because its proven he will screw over his employer at some point.  Too bad so sad for him. 

kywildcat
kywildcat

How much do you anti petrino people get paid to go around the internet and spew bs ?

JarrenBlake
JarrenBlake

Just too dangerous of a hire. He wins, I get it, but he has made a loser out of every program that has dealt with him. And for ADs its not about winning, its about keeping their position, much like in politics. The whole Gene Chizik firing is overblown, it means only so much that he won that BCS title because when you look at his complete body of work, the recent 3-9 season is not the aberration, that title season is. And the 8-5 season preceding it had much more to do with lucky breaks than anything else. The Miss State game was razor thin and it was not the only one. Add to that numerous other factors that one can get into and it becomes a bit more understandable why it happened so soon.

 

There are other names and other good coaches out there, that top level programs like Tennessee should be gunning for and not need a Petrino hire. Heck just as easily go for Art Briles or Rich Rod(Only 1 yr at Arz St will make that difficult though). For Kentucky its something to think about, I grant you that. But so is the Cincinnati coach that could be looking to move to a more stable conference with the Big East constantly on the rocks.

I4Bama
I4Bama

You are absolutely right in saying that we are all imperfect.  It is true, also, that everyone's sins are equal. Not everyone, however, consistently stabs everyone in his way in the back the way Petrino has and will to get what he wants.  He is not a team player and he will burn whomever chooses to hire him.  His sin is not at issue, as far as football is concerned.  His character is.

jMals
jMals

Big, big fan of the site. Read it multiple times a day.

 

I feel like I'm missing something with Petrino. Off the field issues aside, I think Kentucky should go after him full press. However, Auburn and Tennessee? Couldn't they land someone better? Petrino's record at Arkansas and Louisville was nice, but the man has never fielded a good - much less great - defense. He'll win some games but get slapped around by LSU and Bama. (yes yes, he beat LSU once I think and came close to upsetting Alabama once. But that's it.)

 

As a Bama fan, this is painful to say, but Tennessee and Auburn are top flight programs. Kentucky should be elated with 8 - 10 wins a year (Petrino's general ceiling it seems), but Auburn and especially Tennessee should be gunning for SEC titles. I just don't think Petrino is the man to do it.

 

Am I way off base here?

GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

@JHP2354 To underscore Arthur Blank's flabberghastedness (great word), Petrino met with him face to face and committed to being the Falcons coach for the next season which prompted Blank to go on television and make a public announcement as such. Within a day, Petrino was in Arkansas making his soo-eee noises at his introductory news conference. How could anyone ever trust this guy in a position of authority and responsibility again? It would take a huge leap of faith and the willingness to put their own career on the line by an AD.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @rogun 

 

First, I didn't get involved in the stone-throwing when he was at Arkansas.  I said there was no way he could be retained by a boss that he's lied to and a school that he'd embarrassed.

 

Second, I wouldn't have hired the guy a month ago.  But it's become clear to me -- as I state in the piece a few times -- that schools care only about money.  Money comes from winning.  So in my view, if these schools thought they could hire him and not get hammered in the press, someone would do it.   So in my view, just do it already.  Somebody eventually will.

 

If an AD says, "I can't trust that guy," fine.  I get that.  But I hear a lot of fans say "You can't hire this guy because a coach needs to be a moral compass for the community," and I think that's ridiculous.  I'm guessing Bear Bryant, General Neyland and a whole host of ex-SEC legends couldn't live up to today's moral scrutiny.

 

That was the point of the piece.

 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

SevierVol
SevierVol

Like many others, Dave Hart has yet to give me a warm, fuzzy feeling. But I will say this for the man, he does not seem afraid to make a decision.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

 @JarrenBlake Art Briles is probably a name that deserves a lot more attention.  The job he's done at Baylor is admirable and I would imagine a promotion is coming sooner or later.  He also did a pretty good job at Houston so he's already proven himself at multiple stops.  He would be a great hire for any of these schools. 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @I4Bama 

 

And if that's why ADs are steering clear of him, that's perfectly legit.  But I bet some of these guys are more worried about the bad press than they are his trustworthiness.

 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

FireMitch
FireMitch

 

 Like I said to another post, Mitch needs to grow a pair and hire Petrino. It's a win win situation.

KY_Daktari
KY_Daktari

 @jMals I disagree.  I'm from Kentucky, my wife is from Knoxville.  I think he is a much better fit at UT than UK.  They are so desperate for wins and excitement at this point, I'm really surprised they're not going after him.  I wouldn't blame them.

 

Me?  I don't want him.  At the risk of getting hatred spewed at me, I don't want him now, nor did I want him before his scandal.  They guy is a jerk.  I didn't like him when he was at Louisville--(lying to players during recruiting, the way he treated UK fans in general).  I didn't like him at Arkansas from the time he got there (leftovers from his UL days, getting that reporter fired).  I once said that I would quit being a UK football fan if he was hired...  After Joe B gave his stamp of approval, I would rethink that, but I'm thrilled his supposedly not getting considered.

 

I'm a bit disturbed by the original post... there seems to be a lot more venom than I am used to seeing from MrSEC.  And seriously... MrSEC is a Twilight fan?  *shivers*

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @KY_Daktari  @jMals 

 

Venom?  

 

Cynicism and sarcasm were the goals.  I think Petrino is a jerk, too, and up until a month ago I wouldn't have hired him for any job, either.  But with teams jumping leagues and BCS-winning coaches getting canned it's become pretty clear that most of these schools care only about money and money comes from winning.  

 

I think if any of the ADs looking for a coach thought they could get away with hiring Petrino, they'd do so.  He wins and he doesn't have to win recruiting wars to do it.  Plus -- and this is what changed my mind about hiring him -- he's so desperate to land a new gig that he'd likely sign any kind of escape clause put before him.  And that's been by far his biggest issue in the past.

 

Now, if an AD were to say, "I'm not going to hire a guy that I can't trust to tell me the truth," that's legit.  But if this is all because of his "morals," sorry, but I think that's a pretty lame excuse not to hire the guy.  There are quite a few legendary coaches who wouldn't hold up under today's "don't drink, don't mess around" rules.

 

As for the "Twilight" reference, I actually saw the first flick on HBO and that was quite enough for me.  But that actress' hanky-panky made national news all summer.  The fact that it would make national news all summer doesn't say much for our society, if you ask me.

 

Many thanks for reading the site,

John

jMals
jMals

 @KY_Daktari I agree that if I were a Kentucky fan, I wouldn't want him either. I just meant his style would be a better fit at Kentucky. UK has more obstacles to overcome I think than UT to get back to winning and Petrino's style (again - on field only) seems built to gain some short term success, though I agree that he'll probably leave the next school in shambles as well.

 

I think both schools know to keep looking.

 

Best of luck with basketball season! I have a good UK friend and last year when we won the BCS and UK won March Madness, we treated ourselves to a Champions steak dinner. Hoping we can make it two years in a row!

jMals
jMals

 @John at MrSEC  @KY_Daktari  @jMals 

 

John, any thoughts on if Petrino can really break the ceiling and get, say, Tennessee not only to winning but consistently competing for titles without a defense on the same level as the rest of the SEC elite (LSU, Bama, UGA, FL, South Carolina all have really great D's)?

 

Love the site! Keep up the great work!

KY_Daktari
KY_Daktari

 @John at MrSEC  @jMals Hi John,

 

Fair enough.  Long day, getting sick and a bit crabby colored my reading more than it should.  Going back, I see your point.  My apologies.

 

I would go more for the, "I just don't like the guy" line of thinking.  He does win games though, I'll give him that.  I'm really surprised UT isn't giving him more of a shot.  I just remember the Billy Clyde years and they've got it worse than that and for longer.  Even if he is only good for 8-10 wins a year, as the reader above said, that's a heckuva lot better than what they have now and would put them in a better position to step up after the rebuilding is done if they feel like that's a plateau.  

 

Thanks for the clarification on Kristen Stewart.  I didn't catch the reference.  All I know about her is her supposedly wooden acting.  Spent too much of the summer on this site I suppose.

 

Thanks,

James

FireMitch
FireMitch

 @jMals  @KY_Daktari

 Mitch needs to grow a pair and get this done. He'll be the one without a job in another 3 years.

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