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Louisville Writer Breaks Down The Power Of Petrino; We Tell You Why He’ll Be Back In The Big Leagues Next Season

This spring, fired by Arkansas after his affair with an employee became tabloid fodder, it appeared that Bobby Petrino would be radioactive for a while.  At least at the major college level.

Now, just a few months later, his name is already being connected to several BCS-level jobs that might come open by year’s end.

What changed?  Uh, have you seen Arkansas this season?  The worse the Hogs look, the higher Petrino’s stock rises.  Nevermind the fact that if it weren’t for Petrino’s off-field issues the Razorbacks wouldn’t be just this side of Hell right now.

Longtime Louisville writer Eric Crawford has penned an excellent piece — actually, he’s keyboarded a piece, I’d reckon — breaking down just what happens when Petrino exits a place and another coach enters.  Remember, before dumping the Atlanta Falcons for Arkansas and imploding in Fayetteville, Petrino had coached, won and departed from the University of Louisville.

According to Crawford, his attention to detail and his cold, business-like demeanor were sorely missed at U of L once he left for the NFL:

 

“Under Petrino, something like a cell phone ringing in the offensive meeting room was a major infraction. If Paul Petrino heard a phone ring in one of his meetings, there was no telling what might happen. Forget confiscation, the phone would be lucky to survive, and the player might feel lucky to survive. In the first offensive meeting under Charlie Stubbs, (Steve) Kragthorpe’s new offensive coordinator, a phone rang, and players sat up in their seats, cringing almost reflexively. Stubbs stopped speaking, the phone rang once more before it could be silenced, there was an expectant moment of quiet, then he continued without acknowledging it.

It was a new day.

Even before that, the change was evident. The first time one position group showed up for some ‘voluntary’ skeleton drills such as all teams run during the summer, they started to run the drills outlined on a sheet for them by the new coaches. About 15-20 minutes in, one player said to the other, ‘That’s it.’ The others were confused. These were 45-minute or 1-hour drills under the predecessors. They’d gotten to the end of the list in a fraction of that time. They ran through the drills three more times, then stopped.

Wide receivers, accustomed to a precision attack in which coaches would literally measure out the steps that each player would run before cutting or making a move in his route, now were told, instead of how many steps, to go out seven yards and curl, or whatever the route was. The result was routes that wound up growing less precise.

Now it’s important to understand, there was nothing negligent or substandard on the part of the new staff. The way they were doing it was the way staffs were doing it throughout much of college football. But Petrino has been successful not just because he sweats the small stuff, but because he obsesses over it.

He had assistants staying in the U of L football complex until 11 p.m. over the summer going over game film of teams they wouldn’t play for three months.

Players derived a great deal of confidence from the offensive game plan. During coaches’ meetings, assistants would each propose their ‘scoring plays’ of the week, those they determined would be most likely to break for big gains or scores. When an agreement was reached, they’d tell the team in running through the script of the first 15 or 20 plays, ‘This is the touchdown play.’

The staff was right so many times that players began to believe them when they told them a particular play was going to score. And the offense was so effective that players derived confidence from that. Eric Wood, a center at the time, told me for a story I did for the newspaper, ‘We just can’t wait to see what they have planned every week. You really look forward to seeing the game plan to see what they’ve found to attack.’

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Hogs’ Davis Still Off Limits When It Comes To Tackling Drills

It’s was about this time last year when dynamic Arkansas running back Knile Davis suffered a serious ankle injury in practice that cost him the 2011 season.  Rather than turn pro, Davis chose to return to Fayetteville and he’s back on the practice field.

But Razorback coaches are still keeping him away from heavy contact.  Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino told The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “As of right now, he’s not going to get hit yet.”

So when will UA’s coaches feel comfortable enough to let their expected starter get some contact?  That’s an “ongoing conversation” according to Petrino.

In 2010, Davis rushed for 1,322 yards, 13 touchdowns and led the SEC with a 6.5 yard-per-carry average.

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It’s Long’s Call on Petrino, But Where Would He Turn If He Fires The Coach?

Harry King has covered a lot of Arkansas sports in his day.  The columnist for ArkansasNews.com posted a few of his views on the Bobby Petrino subject today and they fall right in line with what we wrote yesterday.  A sampling:


“Opinion is all over the place and the two extremes are espoused by those eager to talk.

Behind the scenes, I suspect the views are just as diverse — from fire him to slap him on the wrist — even among members of the UA Board of Trustees.  No doubt, it’s the same with donors who give big bucks to the Razorback Foundation.  There must be those who say they will pull their donations if he is fired and those who say they will pull their donations if he is retained.

Charged with ignoring the morass of outside sentiment is athletic director Jeff Long, who also must disengage himself from a personal disappointment.  After all, he has been over backwards to accommodate Petrino’s every whim and his thank you was a lie…

The gut feeling is that Long wants to keep Petrino, knowing that he has revitalized old fans and brought in new ones.”


Meanwhile, the Bobby Petrino support group that got so much attention yesterday with — as of this morning — 20,000+ Facebook members might not live up to the headlines it received.  ArkansasSports360.com reports that “Team Save Coach Petrino” was “adding members without permission throughout Monday” on the social media site. 

Also, just about 200 pro-Petrino folks showed up at an on-campus rally yesterday.  Signs at the event covered the gamut.  One said, “What’s Wrong With Scoring In The Offseason?”  Another read, “Accept Apology and FORGIVE.  Jesus Saved Bobby… Jeff… You Can Too.”

As we’ve written time and again, if Petrino gets the boot it won’t be because he had an inappropriate relationship.  It will be because he hired the girl with whom he had the relationship — putting the school at risk for a major lawsuit — and because he lied to his bosses in an attempt to cover-up who was with him on his motorcycle.

The organizer of the event — Hog fan Matt Couch — admitted that his support is tied to Petrino’s record, nothing more.  (Which means he’d and the other members of his group had better not make a peep when a coach at another program gets in trouble.  They’ve surrendered the moral high ground.)


“If they won seven games would we be saying the same thing?  Probably not…  There’s probably a chance we wouldn’t even be having this rally because that decision would have already been made (by the university).”


Petrino — for now — remains.  He’s suspended while new assistant Taver Johnson leads the team through spring drills.  Arkansas’ AD clearly wants to keep his coach if he can.

But if he can’t, where might Long turn to replace Petrino?  Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News thinks new UAB coach Garrick McGee could be a target.  That’s because McGee just arrived in Birmingham after a four-year stint on Petrino’s staff.  The last two years he was the Razorbacks’ offensive coordinator.

The folks at AthlonSports.com have put together a list of 10 potential candidates to replace Petrino should he be ousted, including Gus Malzahn from Arkansas State and Kirby Smart, the defensive coordinator at Alabama.

But what of an in-family move?  McGee took over the reins of the UA offense when Petrino’s brother Paul left to head up Illinois’ offense.  With McGee leaving and Ron Zook out in Champagne, Paul Petrino is back as the Hogs’ offensive coordinator.

Could Long exit one brother and simply promote the other?  Would Paul do that?  Would Bobby want him to?  And why has Paul never gotten a shot at a head coaching job considering his brother’s success?

There will be options aplenty if Long does have to pull the trigger on Petrino.  But for now, it still looks like he’s doing all that he can to keep from doing that.

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SEC Headlines – 12/9/11

Today’s gonna be a quickie due to radio hits in Jacksonville, Knoxville and all across the state of Mississippi.  (Ya never know, a little Christmas shopping might be on the agenda, too.)  Before we break away, here’s a look at some of the headlines from across the SEC today…

 

1.  The SEC racked up at last night’s College Football Awards.

2.  Alabama’s Trent Richardson and Barrett Jones picked up national honors at the event.

3.  This one’s been making the rounds all week and now more folks are jumping on it.  Six years after the fact, former NFL player Heath Evans says Nick Saban stepped over a convulsing player and showed he could care less about his players.  But the player who was hospitalized said at the time that it made him feel good about his team to see Saban visit him in the hospital.  So why didn’t we run with this earlier?  Heath Evans played at… wait for it… Auburn.  (That rivalry skews people’s views.  See: Danny Sheridan.)

4.  In addtion to Mark Stoops (Florida State) and Everett Withers (North Carolina), South Carolina’s Ellis Johnson appears to be on Auburn’s short list of potential defensive coordinators.

5.  Paul Petrino is already back to work as Arkansas’ new (old) offensive coordinator.

6.  For now, inside linebackers coach Reggie Johnson is serving as the Hogs’ interim defensive coordinator.

7.  Another day, more awards and honors for the LSU football team.

8.  Meanwhile, freshman Johnny O’Bryant III is doing all he can for the Tigers’ basketball team.

9.  Ole Miss — 7-1 on the season — is still waiting for two players to be academically cleared.

10.  Mississippi State’s Dee Bost says Renardo Sidney doesn’t need to score a point as long as he plays hard when he’s on the floor.

11.  Will Muschamp says Florida needs to “play well and we need to win” the Gator Bowl against Ohio State.  (If the Gators don’t win they’ll post their first losing record since 1979.)

12.  Muschamp says he expects Charlie Weis’ departure to be the last from his staff this offseason.

13.  This Georgia-based writer thinks the Dawgs and Mark Richt will wind up with a new contract being signed, but “you never know.”

14.  Kentucky is shooting fewer threes this season.

15.  It’ll seem like old times when unbeaten UK travels to unbeaten Indiana this weekend.

16.  More honors and awards continue to roll in for South Carolina.

17.  Derek Dooley is opening his arms to ex-Tennessee players (after rumors emerged that some ex-Vols had been getting the cold shoulder).

18.  The SEC’s coaches put three UT defenders on their All-Freshmen team.

19.  James Franklin says Vanderbilt’s fans are “hungry” for bowl success.

20.  This writer says everyone’s for a college football playoff… but the players themselves.

 

 

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Arkansas’ McGee Meets With Tulsa Officials Again, But No Offer Made

Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee met with officials at Tulsa for the second time yesterday, but The Tulsa World reports no job offer was made.  There have been reports that McGee is now the top choice for the Golden Hurricane head coaching job.

The school also met with Texas A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter about its vacancy.  Todd Graham left Tulsa for Pittsburgh earlier this week.

McGee is a Tulsa native with strong ties to Oklahoma.  He has been Bobby Petrino’s quarterbacks coach for three seasons and replaced Paul Petrino as Arkansas’ offensive coordinator this past year.

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McGee Nominated for Broyles Award

Arkansas
Content provided by The Slophouse.

FAYETTEVILLE - First-year Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee is one of 36 nominees for the 2010 Broyles Award, which recognizes the top assistant coach in college football.

McGee, who has served as the Razorbacks quarterbacks coach since 2008, replaced Paul Petrino this season and the Arkansas offense hasn’t skipped many beats. The Razorbacks rank in the top 10 nationally in passing offense and total offense, and their 37.9 points per game rank only behind Auburn among Southeastern Conference teams.

It is the second consecutive year an Arkansas offensive coordinator has been nominated for the award, named in honor of former Razorbacks coach and athletics director Frank Broyles. Paul Petrino was one of the initial nominees last season before leaving for Illinois. Petrino is one of the nominees again this year.

McGee is one of four nominees with Arkansas ties. In addition to Petrino, former Arkansas and current Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn was nominated, as was former Razorbacks player Dick Bumpas, now the defensive coordinator at TCU.

The five finalists for the award will be announced next week, with the winner being named at a banquet Dec. 6 in Little Rock.

For more visit WholeHogSports.com. You can follow Matt Jones on Twitter @NWAMatt.

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