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Bobby Petrino on Western Kentucky: “We Can Be Boise State”

bobby-petrino-smilesDennis Dodd of CBSSports.com catches up with Bobby Petrino in Bowling Green, Kentucky where the former Arkansas coach is now in charge of the Western Kentucky program.  It’s a long piece that you can see here.  As you undoubtedly know by now, Petrino was forced out at Arkansas after having an affair with a 25-year old staffer and crashing his motorcycle with her onboard.  As Dodd frames it, Petrino went from “an SEC program with a top-five national ranking to a fifth-place program in the Sun Belt.”

Here were a few of the quotes that caught our eye.

 

What if he had immediately confessed the affair to Arkansas A.D. Jeff Long?

“There were a lot of things going on that didn’t allow me to do that. I was in the hospital, medicated.”

 

On son Nick, a student coach at Arkansas last year.  

“I thought it was the hardest thing for him more than anything else. I took something away from him.”

 

On communicating with his replacement at Arkansas – John L. Smith

“I tried to stay away. I’d send him a text.”

 

On the kind of program he can create at Western Kentucky

“We can be Boise State. Why not?. We beat them all the time when I was at Idaho.” (That was 1989-91 when Petrino was an assistant)

“My vision for the program is to go to a bowl game every year. I figure I’ve got 14 more years left to go.”

 

Western Kentucky AD Todd Stewart on Petrino

“We’ve got a guy in the prime of his career. He’s 51 years old and has been to the Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl and Sugar Bowl in the last six years. Sometimes a school will get somebody like that, but they are 20 years removed.”

 

Stewart had a binder prepared with 75 candidates when former coach Willie Taggart left for South Florida.  But Petrino was his first choice.  ”He called back in five minutes.”

Petrino’s Hilltoppers are scheduled to open against Kentucky and then face Tennessee the following week this fall.

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WOW Headlines – 2/13/13

Former Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino says his facilities at Western Kentucky are “way better than what we had at Arkansas”
Mississippi State has hired former Florida and LSU assistant Billy Gonzales
Georgia is cutting back on the number of football tickets allotted to students for each home game
Now with 14 schools, the SEC broke the seven-million mark in attendance for the first time ever
Kentucky C Nerlens Noel diagnosed with a torn ACL after twisting his knee last night against Florida
Florida pounded Kentucky 69-52 in Gainesville to break the Wildcats’ five-game winning streak
Alabama defeated Georgia 52-35 in Tuscaloosa to snap the Bulldogs’ five-game winning streak
Alabama has suspended four freshman football players who face charges of robbery and/or fraudulent use of a credit card
Georgia football coach Mark Richt will get pay raise boosting his salary to $3.2 million per season
SEC hoops action Wednesday night: Ole Miss at Texas A&M… Tennessee at Vanderbilt… Missouri at Mississippi State… Arkansas at Auburn
Follow the SEC all year long at MrSEC.com and twitter.com/mrsec

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Nightmare Scenario For UK: Petrino Hired By WKU And Will Open Against New Wildcat Coach

During Kentucky’s coaching search, it became clear that there was a vocal group of Wildcat supporters who wanted their school to hire ex-Louisville and ex-Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino.  Instead, only Auburn among SEC schools reached out to Petrino at all.  And Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart selected Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops as his school’s new leader.

Stoops’ first game with the Wildcats will come next August 31st at LP Field in Nashville against Western Kentucky.  Across the field on the opposite sideline he’ll see none other than Petrino.  The Hilltoppers will name Petrino their new coach later today.

It’s a helluva fall from the head coach at Arkansas (where Petrino had gone 21-5 in his last two seasons) all the way to the Sun Belt Conference.  Already, some are saying WKU will win football games but lose its soul by hiring Petrino.  (Actually, I think a few ministers out there might point out that the soul in better shape is the one that offers forgiveness to someone else’s.)  But make no mistake, this is a nightmare scenario for Barnhart.

If Kentucky’s athletic director watches his football program lose two years in a row to Western Kentucky, well, that’ll be bad enough.  But if Petrino can thump the man Barnhart chose instead of him?  Over him?  Oh, the Cats’ AD will most assuredly hear about that one on talk radio stations across the state.

For Cat fans looking for an upside to this odd twist, it could be that Barnhart will now be sufficiently motivated to provide anything and everything Stoops needs to build Kentucky’s football program.  Vanderbilt has invested in its program and James Franklin has taken advantage.  Stoops might be able to do the same if Barnhart starts backing his program financially.  Petrino might provide the right motivation to make sure that happens.

Or… he could just come back to bite Barnhart right in the rump.

 

UPDATE – Petrino could actually cause some discomfort for Tennessee AD Dave Hart, too.  As noted above, Kentucky and Tennessee both decided not to chat with Petrino this offseason.  While UK hired Stoops, UT brought in Butch Jones from Cincinnati.  After looking over WKU’s schedule, guess who the Hilltoppers face in Knoxville the week after they play Kentucky in Nashville?  Yep, Hart’s Volunteers.

The open to the 2013 season could be a real “You Shoulda Hired Me When You Had The Chance” tour for Petrino.

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Only 18,885 Fans Showed Up For UK-VU Last Saturday; Think Rupp Would Ever Be Just 27% Full?

Outgoing coach Joker Phillips suggested earlier this week that he knew that his fate was sealed as Kentucky’s coach when he looked into the Commonwealth Stadium stands last week and saw more silver benches than people.  If you didn’t see the “crowd” for yourself, it was really more like a gathering than a crowd:

 

 

 

The fact that UK announced the attendance for the Wildcats’ game with Vanderbilt as 44,902 led The Lexington Herald-Leader to file an open records request in the hopes of learning exactly how many tickets were actually scanned — not sold, but scanned — upon people’s entry into the stadium.  The paper got the records.  And the real attendance on Saturday… was just 18,885.

Most spring games in the SEC draw more than 19,000 fans.  Many Texas high school games draw more than 19,000 fans.

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A Youthful Comparison: Tide Vs Cats (And Why This Writer Thinks Phillips Deserves Another Year)

Kentucky’s Joker Phillips has spent the week reminding folks in the Bluegrass State that his team features 72 freshmen and sophomores.  Here at MrSEC, we got our first email from a UK fan about this on Sunday… after Phillips followed up his team’s 32-31 overtime loss to Western Kentucky with the statement.

Well, since mentioning Phillips’ remark again yesterday, we’ve received several more emails as well as one “Don’t give me that crap” response in our comment box.  Every single one of these responses — the emails and the comment — have shared one similarity.  They all claim that Alabama has just as many young players as Kentucky.  (Why, it’s as if someone’s posted that on a messageboard and the anti-Phillips crowd are sharing it.  But we all know that would never happen.)

Interested, I grabbed a pen and paper, took a look at each squad’s two-deep roster for the upcoming weekend and found the following:

 

Alabama has 22 freshmen and sophomores in its two-deep.  Kentucky has 24.  Pretty similar.

But…

Alabama has three sophomores starting on offense with no freshman starters.  Kentucky has four sophomores starting on offense as well as three freshmen or redshirt freshmen.

On defense, both teams have three sophomore starters.

So in terms of starters, UK is starting 10 first- or second-year players while UA starts just six.  At least according to my quickie, cocktail napkin math.  I could be off by a player as I didn’t have time to take my shoes off and use my toes to help with my cipherin’.

 

Now, do I personally believe Phillips to be the man to fix what’s been ailing UK football for decades?  No, I do not.  But I do believe he deserves another year to see how his young players develop next season.  Another year to prove me and many others wrong.  I don’t believe he’ll get that year as we now live in a world where coaches are fired after two or three seasons, but I think he should get another year.  Mainly because my gut could be wrong about him (the guy did end the Cats’ long losing streaks to Steve Spurrier and Tennessee).  I’ve also written on this site for years that young teams tend to get their rumps kicked.

And Phillips — at least by my count — has more youngsters playing major roles on his team than Saban does on his.  (As if an Alabama-to-Kentucky comparison is fair to in the first place.  Might as well compare the Wildcats to the Pittsburgh Steelers.)

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Western Kentucky 32 – Kentucky 31 (OT)

 

 

Saturday Night Non-Conference Roundup: Five Teams Get Wins, Longhorns Blast Ole Miss, Kentucky Falls In OT

South Carolina 49  – UAB 6

1. Gamecocks get the win but Connor Shaw aggravates shoulder injury. Shaw – “…hopefully I’ll be back next week.”

2. Steve Spurrier gets the 200th win of his career - the South Carolina runs his record to 46-0 against non-BCS automatic qualifier conferences.

South Carolina video highlights

Missouri 24 – Arizona State 20

3. Up 24-7, Tigers hang on for the victory.

4. Introduced as the starting quarterback, James Frankin doesn’t play for Mizzou.  Gary Pinkel: “It’s between him and the medical staff. They make those decisions. I don’t make those decisions.”

5. Bryan Burwell: “There are a lot of questions to be asked and answered about why the 6-foot-2, 228-pound junior from Corinth, Texas, did not play against Arizona State.”

6. “The coach essentially called his quarterback a conscientious objector on national television before the game.”

Missouri video highlights

Mississippi State 30 – Troy 24

7. Bulldogs give up 572 yards to Troy.  Dan Mullen: “We’re very fortunate to play as poorly as we did and come out of it with a win.”

8. Troy linebacker Kanorris Davis: “The only thing they had over us was size. They had more size. Physical, head up, they weren’t anything special.”

9. Three touchdown catches for Chad Bumphis.

Western Kentucky 32 – Kentucky 31 (OT)

10. Trick play in overtime puts Hilltoppers over the top.

11. Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggert: “The entire game, our guys were saying, ‘Coach, call the play! Coach, call the play!”

12. Joker Phillips: Well, yes, you’ve got to expect trick plays, but again, we were in man to man coverage.  The only guy you can’t account for is the quarterback, and they threw the ball back to him.”

13. John Clay: “There’s nowhere to go but up.”

Kentucky video highlights

Georgia 56 – Florida Atlantic 20

14. A program record total 713 yards for the Bulldogs.

15. Both Georgia freshmen running backs go over 100 yards.

16. Thoughts turn to Vanderbilt and last year’s shouting match between James Franklin and Todd Grantham.

Georgia video highlights

LSU 63 -  Idaho 14

17. 42 unanswered points for the Tigers.  Les Miles: “I think our football team was imperfect. But I think everybody can see we can be a dominant football team.”

18. LSU’s not-so-secret weapon?  The student section.

19. With USC’s loss – expect LSU to be No. 2 behind Alabama.

LSU video highlights

Texas 66 – Ole Miss 31

20. Most points allowed by Ole Miss since 1917.

21. Bright spot?  “The Rebels offense is pretty good.”

Ole Miss video highlights

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SEC Game Previews – 9/14/12

Here’s your weekly rundown of all the SEC action coming your way in Week Three of the regular season.  As always, you’ll find everything from TV info to lines to keys to predictions.

Enjoy the games, be safe, and best of luck to your favorite school this weekend.

Here goes…

 

Louisiana-Monroe at Auburn

12:21pm ET on SEC Network

Opening Line:  AU -17

Current Line:  AU -16.5

Storylines:  First, can ULM pull back-to-back upsets on the road against SEC teams.  If so, let’s start the expansion rumors.  Second, Gene Chizik can not — not — afford to lose this game or else he’ll be staring down the barrel of a possible Oh-for-September start with LSU visiting the Plains next week.

Keys for Auburn:  Start with tackling.  Brian VanGorder’s new defense has been less than impressive and ULM quarterback Kolton Browning threw for 412 yards and ran for another 69 against Arkansas.  Auburn can’t let one man destroy them.  Also, it’s time for Kiehl Frazier to start making some improvements.  Last week he was responsible for five turnovers and the Tigers’ passing game ranks #112 out of 124 FBS schools.

Pick:  Auburn 33, Louisiana-Monroe 21

 

Presbyterian at Vanderbilt

12:30pm ET on CSS

Opening Line:  No line (FCS opponent)

Current Line:  No line (FCS opponent)

Storylines:  The smallest cupcake in all the FCS — 1,200 students total — visits Vanderbilt.  That’s an embarrassment.  Granted, we say that about all the creampuffs SEC schools schedule, but the Blue Hose?  Come on.

Keys for Vanderbilt:  Pick your poison.  The Commodores rank #113 in the nation in running the ball (averaging just 2.33 yards per carry).  So there’s that.  But quarterback Jordan Rodgers is completing less than 54% of his passes and he’s already been sacked eight times through two games.  So there’s that, too.  Simple key?  Start to find someone confidence on offense.

Pick:  Vanderbilt 40, Presbyterian 7

 

Texas A&M at SMU

3:30pm ET on FSN

Opening Line:  A&M -10

Current Line:  A&M -12.5

Storylines:  The Aggies will try to bounce back from last week’s tough loss to Florida by besting an old SWC rival.  The Mustangs have had a bit of a revival under June Jones, but that 59-24 thumping at the hands of Baylor suggests this year’s SMU team isn’t nearly as good as last year’s 8-5 squad.

Keys for Texas A&M:  Redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel opened a lot of eyes around the SEC last week, but once Florida stopped rushing him and stopped opening up escape routes for him, Kevin Sumlin’s offense sputtered.  We know A&M’s going to throw the ball, but the Aggies will need to start cranking up that deep backfield we’ve heard so much about as they prepare for more SEC foes down the line.  Or else they could relive the Florida loss time and again.

Pick:  Texas A&M 31, SMU 14

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Bama Backup RB Fowler Likely Out For Season

It looks like Alabama will be without junior running back Jalston Fowler for the rest of the season.  The backup tailback/fullback/H-back will have surgery on his left knee following an injury Saturday against Western Kentucky (which is about all these types of meaningless games are good for — injuries).

According to Nick Saban:

 

“Jalston’s been a great player in the program — a really good special teams guy.  A great backup player for us.  A really good attitude guy.  Lots of character.  Really good competitor.  I know he feels badly.  We feel badly, too, for him that he can’t be a part and be able to contribute to our team this year.”

 

According to The Birmingham News, Fowler was “used extensively” as the Tide’s fullback in the I-formation.  On the season he had 11 carries for 85 yards.

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SEC Headlines 9/8/2012

1. $5 million slashed from the operating budget for University of Tennessee Athletics.

2. Advice for new South Carolina AD Ray Tanner - get ready for a full inbox.

3. So why exactly does Alabama play Western Kentucky?

4. At halftime tonight, Arkansas will honor the family of Garrett Uekman, a redshirt freshman tight end who died last November.

5. Urban Meyer, Ohio State, Florida and the “new” media covering journalism.

6. Sounds like last night was a hectic one in Columbia, Mo.

7. Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin likes the new NCAA rules covering texting and high school recruits. “If they don’t return a text, that means it’s been narrowed down. … Then you’re able to hone in on guys and go from there.”

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