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Louisville Destined To Be Burned Again By Petrino

bobby-petrinoAnd this is why no big football program tossed a lifeline to Bobby Petrino a year ago.

With Louisville’s re-hire of Petrino, the school is sure to take its share of heat today.  Tom Jurich’s name will be mud because this move reeks of “We only care about winning.”  So be it.  Name me a school that isn’t all about winning.

So we won’t jump on Louisville for making a shady hire.  They’ll tsk-tsk them for making an incredibly dumb hire.  A hire that completely ignores one whole side of Petrino’s resume.  Yeah, the wins on one side look good, but the wreckage in the other column, well, that takes a fool to ignore.

You see, Petrino once tried to backdoor his way out of The ‘Ville in order to go to Auburn.  When Jet-gate blew up in some Auburn boosters’ faces, Louisville kept Petrino anyway.  Because he won.  But then he jumped to the Atlanta Falcons and left Steve Kragthorpe a mess of a roster with which to work.  Petrino didn’t last a full season  in the Georgia Dome before high-tailing it to Arkansas and stabbing owner Arthur Blank in the back.  He famously left notes in the lockers of his players.  ”So long, suckers” they might as well have said.  In bringing him to Fayetteville, AD Jeff Long hired a guy who’d already proven his bosses couldn’t trust him.  But he won games and that everyone from the Ozarks to Memphis “whoo-pig-sooie-ing.”

As Petrino improved the Razorbacks from five wins to eight to 10 to 11, Hog fans stuck their pig noses in the air and claimed others were just jealous when they tried to warn, “But you’ve got a jackass for a head coach.”

Then the motorcycle dropped.

Scandal.  Embarrassment.  A dismissal for not only lying to Long but for potentially landing the University of Arkansas in legal trouble.  Petrino didn’t just have a mistress — hey, he’s human, we all mess up — but he pushed hard enough that she was eventually hired into the Arkansas athletic department.  Worse, he actually cajoled Long into speeding up the hiring process which opened the door to lawsuits that — luckily for UA — never came.

He then spent a year away from the game.  No school would touch him.  Until the inevitable mea culpa interview appeared on ESPN.  Desperate Western Kentucky — oh, so hungry to be taken seriously in football — forgave Petrino of his sins.  Thumbs up on the forgive and forget part, but we all know WKU officials were really just hiring the man because he could win games.  If he’d stunk as a coach the Hilltoppers wouldn’t have considered taking on such a reclamation project.  But despite the fact that he’d already burned his bosses at Louisville, Atlanta and Arkansas, WKU indeed hired Petrino anyway.  He rewarded them by going 8-4 in Year One.

There will be no Year Two.

So you can now add Western Kentucky AD Todd Stewart to the long list of chumps who’ve hired Petrino only to find themselves shivved in the yard by him later.  Stewart’s Hail Mary hire now leaves the school looking for its third coach in three seasons.  That’s not exactly great for a roster.  You know, the roster.  The kids who “bought in” to Petrino and his sales pitch.  Yeah, they got Kiffin’d, too.

Petrino is King Weasel in a profession of weasels.  All coaches are mercenaries; Petrino is the most mercenary.

“Education.”  ”Building character.”  ”Shaping young men’s lives.”  Blah, blah and blah.  Coaches coach because they like football and they like money and not necessarily in that order.  Can’t say I’d be any different if put in their position, of course.  If I can make $2 million here and $3 million there… there would look pretty good.  And if I could stay silent for a week and let my current school sweat just enough to pay me $4 million here, then here would once again become “the place where I want to stay.”

It’s not hard to understand how or why coaches play the games that they do.

But I’d like to thank if put in that position I wouldn’t screw over every single man who ever dared to hire me.  Everybody.  Go back to that Jet-gate incident during Petrino’s first stint at Louisville.  Whose job was he trying to snake?  Tommy Tuberville’s… the boss who’d hired him to be his offensive coordinator at Auburn.

There’s a line from the Oliver Stone movie “Nixon” in which the title character imagines two other characters conversing about him.  ”Sooner or later… sooner, I think, you’re gonna learn a lesson that’s been learned by everyone who’s ever gotten close to Richard Nixon.  That’s he’s the darkness reaching out for the darkness.  And, eventually, its either you or him.”

Substitute the name Bobby Petrino for Richard Nixon.

Louisville will win some football games with Petrino.  You can bet on that because the guy can flat coach.  But just as surely the school will be burned by him again.  He’s a human torch with a trail of destruction and double-crossed bosses in his wake.

Just ask the folks who’ve tried to clean up what he’s left behind at Louisville (the first time), Atlanta and Arkansas.  Just ask the poor saps at Western Kentucky today.  He’s the darkness reaching out for the darkness.  Eventually, it’s either your or him.  Get ready, Louisville.  You’re about to learn that lesson again.



Hard to see how WKU became a "chump" with Petrino.  With the buy out clause, they ended up making a few hundred thousand dollars on the hire.  Plus, they went 8-4 and beat UK.  They avoided the embarrassing off field troubles that hit all the other programs.  And they avoided the eventual shambles that come with bad recruiting.  IMO, WKU won with this hire.  Hard to see a bad side for WKU when all things are considered, IMO.  Because it was a fast turn around, they got the best and avoided the worst.


Petrino has a $10M buyout clause this time with Louisville  Any school or franchise that buys him out has more money than sense! WKU will come out of this OK. Jeff Brohm will become their new head coach. And then take a guess who will be the next coach at Louisville after Pertrino retires?? Jeff Brohm!!!  You heard it first here, folks!


So you can now add Western Kentucky AD Todd Stewart to the long list of chumps..."

Some chump. WKU netted $350k on the salary paid vs. buyout received, got an 8-4 season, a home and home from Louisville, the recruits CBP brought in and planned for the departure a year in advance by having a coach in waiting. I'd say Todd Stewart, instead of buying a pig in a poke, looked in the bag and saw the weasel for what he was and carefully planned for the future. Nice job Mr. Stewart.


Louisville could easily get burned in the opposite way that Petrino has burned other employers. Mr. Hit And Run probably believes that he is returning to where he never should have left, just as many Card fans believe. He's skilled at the relatively quick turn around at the college level. I think he wants to find a happy home and believes Louisville to be the place. (I also think he felt that way about Arkansas.). So far it sounds good for Louisville. But Petrino hardly ever recruits. What happens when Bobby is in year 5 or 6 of the program? Burned won't begin to describe the effect of not recruiting on the Cardinal football program. Louisville will be blessed if Petrino leaves in a year or two.


I'm constantly amazed at how the mere mention of the name Petrino excites a Pavlovian response in some commentators.  I'm not defending him; his won-loss record does that more than adequately.  But, I'm curious about  how the Falcons episode seems to some to be a latter day version of Othello.  Petrino didn't show up at Blank's door with an employment application.  His history was well known at that point, especially the won-loss part. Blank didn't hesitate.  As coach of the Falcons, it was pretty obvious it wasn't working out.  Petrino pulled the trigger before Blank got the chance. I appreciate compassion, but there are a helluva lot more deserving recipients than Arthur Blank. 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator


Kinda depends on how Jeff Brohm does as the new coach.  If he bombs out, the Hilltoppers probably would have been better off finding a long-term solution a year ago than hiring a one-year rent-a-coach with a coach-in-waiting.

And I don't know many programs who celebrate hiring a coach and then watching him leave after a year.  The players bought into him.  And then he left them.  I think some of the players probably see that as a bad side.

I just know that every boss who hires Petrino winds up with either a wrecked team or more coaching turnover shortly after hiring him.  WKU has its third coach in three years.  We don't know how Brohm will do with the team.  That's not an ideal situation in my view.

But we'll see.  Here's wishing WKU the best.  Petrino is now Louisville's concern... again.

Thanks for reading the site,


John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator


I'm constantly amazed at how the mere mention of Petrino leaving Atlanta excites a Pavlovian response in some Arkansas fans.  I've found that the only people who beat the "Arthur Blank deserved to be lied to" drum are Arkansas fans.  

There might be a reason that everyone else views Petrino negatively for the way he jetted on Blank and all of his players.  It's pretty much just the Razorback fans who say Blank would have fired him -- which no one else in any NFL circle has ever even suggested was a possibility.



@John at MrSEC@sojourner 

I'm no Arkansas fan.  I'm somewhat familiar with Blank's history of constancy and fidelity.  I'd never confuse him with Little Bo Peep.   


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