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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.

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SEC Hoops Roundup 12/31/2013

gfx-hoops-round-up1. Tennessee 87 – Virginia 52. Video Highlights35-point margin largest of the Cuonzo Martin era.  Vols improve to 8-4.

2. South Carolina 92 – Marshall 65. Gamecocks get to .500 (6-6) behind 18 points each from Ty Johnson and Brenton Williams .

3. Ole Miss 79 – Western Kentucky 74. Rebels get a combined 47 points from Jarvis Summers and Marshall Henderson. Ole Miss now 9-3 on the season.

4. St. Louis 57 – Vanderbilt 49.  Commodores lose three-point lead with just over five minutes to go, watch Billikens go on 12-0 run.  Lowest home point total for Vanderbilt (7-4) since 2002.

5. Auburn 91 – Arkansas Pine Bluff 59. Video HighlightsTigers shoot 65 percent from the field – best performance of the Tony Barbee era. Auburn improves to 7-3. 

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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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Bama’s Saban Glad To Know Of A Possible “Tell” On His O-line

Earlier this week, we linked you to a piece by SB Nation writer Steven Godfrey in which he was “embedded” with the Western Kentucky football program as it prepared to face #1 Alabama.  In the piece, Godfrey revealed that Hilltopper coaches believed Tide right tackle DJ Fluker was tipping plays based upon his positioning at the line scrimmage.  According to WKU defensive line coach Eric Mathies:

 

“When (offensive lines) have big guys, like big, big guys, they change how they get in their stance.  So Fluker’s 6-6, 320.  When it’s run, he’ll get down in his three-point stance because he’s coming off.  When it’s pass, he’s got that right foot back.”

 

(If you listen closely, you can still hear coaches of future Bama foes yelling, “Dangit, why’d you tell em!”)

Informed of the claim during a presser yesterday, Nick Saban didn’t seem too concerned:

 

“We actually asked some of their coaches on their staff if they had any clues on us, and they said they didn’t.  I don’t know.  I hadn’t heard (about that statement)…

Good to know.”

 

Don’t expect WKU to get another invitation and paycheck from Alabama anytime soon.  If Saban asked for for tells — and that’s common among coaches after games — and the Hilltopper staff lied to him, well, you don’t want to be on Saban’s bad side.  You wouldn’tlike himwhen he’s angry.

For the record, Alabama did win the game 35-0, but they gave up six sacks and rushed for just 3.3 yards per carry in the process.

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Saban Doubles Down That Media’s Disrespect For WKU Is Hurting His Team

NMP.

You know what that stands for, right?  “Not my problem.”  And it’s about time someone in the Alabama or national media explain to Nick Saban that whether or not he can get his team to practice well is not their problem, not their concern, and not a part of their job.

A day after taking sportswriters to task for not talking up Western Kentucky of the Sun Belt Conference — top-ranked Alabama’s next foe — he went on his radio show and let fly with the same sillyness all over again:

 

“I have a lot of respect for this team and the job they do.  I wish everybody else would give them some…

Everybody thinks, ‘Why are we even talking about it?’  I don’t get it.  I really don’t.  What pisses me off about it — excuse my language — is I think it all affects our players.  I’m over there every day trying to get them to focus on what they need to do and all they hear about is they don’t need to be focusing.”

 

So again, it’s about the media not helping Saban to keep his team focused.  Which leaves us to repeat: It’s not the media’s job to help or hurt Alabama’s football team.  The media reports on the team and its opponents.  Period.  And like anyone with two eyes and a brain, most media members know that #1 Alabama should tear Western Kentucky a new one for all the reasons we mentioned here yesterday.

But what’s really absurd about Saban’s latest riff is this portion: “I don’t get it.  I really don’t.”

Really?  He doesn’t get why people aren’t taking the Hilltoppers seriously?

This from the same coach who went on multiple national radio shows in the last two weeks and said the top 60-70 football schools should play only against each other?  Hmmm.  So we’re supposed to believe that Saban would take the SEC, ACC, Big XII, Big Ten, Pac-12, and Big East schools, throw them all together… and then add Western Kentucky to the mix, too?

WKU’s athletes work just as hard as Alabama’s athletes.  They deserve credit for that.  But WKU is one of the have-nots of the college football world and Saban’s recently been beating the “let’s separate the haves from the have-nots” argument.  So it’s a little disingenuous for the coach to say he doesn’t understand why folks aren’t giving WKU a real shot against his #1 Tide.

And it’s a lot ridiculous that he thinks the media should be helping him to get his players’ attention regarding a foe that — rightly or wrongly — is viewed as a cupcake by both the media and Alabama fans alike.

Saban’s a helluva coach, but it’s time for him to give this one a rest.

NMP.

 

UPDATE — In addition, Saban also chastised Alabama fans just a bit for not selling out the game: “A thousand (unsold) tickets?  I’ll buy them and give them away.  We can’t sell out with all the games we’ve won?”

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Saban Says The Media Should Respect Western Kentucky (For The Good Of His Team)

Nick Saban might be the best coach in the country — he is — but his lectures to the media sometimes go a bit too far.  Take yesterday’s, for example.  Alabama’s coach made it known that he isn’t happy with writers and talking heads disrespecting Alabama’s next foe, Western Kentucky.

Saban, of course, doesn’t want his team to get the proverbial big head and stub its big toe as a result.  So in Saban World, it’s the media’s job to talk up even the creamiest of creampuffs.

It’s Alabama versus Western Kentucky and he expects people to talk up the Hilltoppers?  Really?

After commenting about how football is a tough game that must be embraced everyday and how his players must improve everyday, the Tide coach then said this:

 

“I hate to be negative with anybody, but when you people start writing stuff about people that we’re playing that doesn’t give them the proper respect… I mean, that’s not fair.  It’s not fair to them.  To their players who work hard to earn it.  It’s not fair to our players who need to respect them.

And to make presumptions like you all make, really upsets me.  It really does.  And so unfair.  You don’t need to write about that.  There’s so many more good things you can write about happening around here that people would be interested in.  I’d love to see some of you do a little bit of research and figure it out.  It’d really do my heart good.”

 

Well, as a guy who likes Saban — I truly think he’s the best coach in any college sport, bar none — I did some research in order to do his heart some good.  Here’s what I found:

Read the rest of this entry »

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WKU Confirms Bjork To UM; But Will UM Have To Schedule WKU As A Result?

Western Kentucky has confirmed that Ross Bjork — the nation’s youngest athletic director — will be leaving the Hilltoppers after just two years to take over at Ole Miss.  The school’s statement includes this quote from Bjork:

“I have decided to accept the director of athletics position at the University of Mississippi and depart WKU.  While I was not seeking to leave WKU, the opportunity to oversee and manage the athletics department at a historic and prestigious university in the Southeastern Conference was one that we had to examine and ultimately accept.”

Interestingly, Bjork’s WKU contract contains a clause that could force Ole Miss to schedule the Hilltoppers in football and basketball.  And not just in Oxford.

In the past year, we’ve seen more and more small schools build “if you leave for another school you’ll have to schedule us” clauses into the contracts of ADs and even basketball coaches.  But what makes this deal unique is that it calls for Bjork to “use his best efforts at the hiring institution to schedule two-year home/home game series between the men’s and women’s basketball teams and one home/home series for the football team.”

“Best efforts” is awfully vague and it would seem that Bjork and Ole Miss would have some serious wiggle room thanks to that phrase.  Basketball probably wouldn’t likely be a problem anyway, but football might cause a hold-up.  No Southeastern Conference team is going to want to visit a lower rung FBS program like WKU (although Mississippi State did play at UAB this past season).  Whether it happens or not, it was a sharp idea by the folks at WKU.  Not only would they get national exposure, they’d get national exposure for their own campus, stadium and fans.

We’ll see if Bjork indeed makes his “best efforts” to line up the Rebels and Hilltoppers in football in Bowling Green anytime soon.

UPDATE — Ole Miss has now made the hiring of Bjork official on its end, too.

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Report: UM To Hire Bjork As AD (Not That Bjork)

The web is buzzing this morning with news about Bjork.  No, not the oddball Icelandic singer best known for wearing a swan dress.  The Western Kentucky athletic director who is reportedly being hired to replace the outgoing Pete Boone at Ole Miss.

RebelGrove.com — the Rivals site covering UM — reported last evening that Bjork had requested all WKU’s coaches return to Bowling Green yesterday so he could deliver the news of his departure first-hand. 

Bjork is the ultimate up-and-comer.  Hired in 2010 at the age of 37, he was the youngest AD in the nation when he joined the Hilltopper program.  He’s been on the job at WKU for just two years and eight days, but he’s made big news in basketball circles in that short time.

Last offseason, he chose to give head basketball coach Ken McDonald another year to revive his program.  Midway through this season — with WKU just 5-11 — Bjork reversed field and canned McDonald, a move which drew plenty of guff from basketball writers across the country.  His flip-flop was partly offset by the fact that assistant coach Ray Harper upset a series of teams to win the Sun Belt Tournament and gain entry into the NCAA Tournament field with a losing record.  Lesson: Bjork’s not afraid to make a controversial decision.  (Or he’s wishy-washy.  You decide.)

Prior to arriving at WKU, Bjork had worked — or wjorked — in two of the biggest athletic departments in the nation.  From 2005 to 2010 he worked at UCLA where he acted as chief fundraiser.  Before that, he oversaw the basketball program at Miami from 2003 to 2005.  He began his career at WKU in 1996 in a smaller capacity and then moved up to Missouri before joining Miami’s team.

An Emporia State and Western Illinois grad as well as a Kansas native, Bjork has no ties to the University of Mississippi aside from the fact that the committee that found him includes Archie Manning.  And that should be good enough for most Reb fans.

An official announcement from the school is expected today.

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SEC Headlines – 3/15/12

1.  Alabama’s going to have to find some offense to hang with Creighton.

2.  The trial of Harvey Updyke — the alleged Toomer’s Corner terrorist — has been pushed back to late June.

3.  This spring practice notebook reveals that even after a severe ankle injury, Knile Davis is still Arkansas’ fastest player.

4.  Barring injuries, Trent Johnson says he’s “very confident” LSU will make the NCAA Tournament next year.  (Daring talk.)

5.  LaDarius White could become a bigger factor for Ole Miss’ hoops team next season.

6.  If Rick Stansbury survives at MSU, expect him to get a one-year extension for recruiting purposes.  (For now, that’s a big if.)

7.  This writer says those who are worried about Texas A&M making a bowl this season are being realistic, not negative.

8.  Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel are settling in for their spring quarterback battle at Florida.

9.  Erik Murphy’s 3-point shooting is a new worry for Gator foes in the NCAA tourney.

10.  Georgia’s Mark Richt is now the sixth-longest tenured head coach in college football.  (Betcha you’d never guess the guy who’s #2 on the list.)

11.  Kentucky’s enters today’s game with Western Kentucky with confidence, not arrogance.

12.  But this writer says all UK has to do is show up and WKU will go down.  (Hard to argue.)

13.  Carolina coaches are happy with DeVonte Holloman’s versatility as he tries to replace the Cocks’ leading tackler from a year ago.

14.  Could MTSU knock off Tennessee with a series of high ball screens on Monday?

15.  A tweet from a freshman tight end could result in a secondary violation for the Vols.  (Said it before… coaches, get your kids off Twitter.)

16.  The legacy of Vanderbilt’s deep senior class is riding on this NCAA Tournament.

17.  Ex-Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien is interested in Penn State, not just Vandy.

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SEC Headlines – 9/2/11 Part One

It’s going to be a headline-heavy day around these parts today as a doctor’s appointment is on the morning schedule for yours truly.  So here’s the first wave of news and notes from around the SEC on this Friday:


1.  Strong safety Matt Elam is set for a breakout year at Florida.

2.  This writer projects a 35-14 Gator win against Florida Atlantic.

3.  Georgia hopes its offseason training will the Dawgs better prepared for fourth quarters this season.

4.  Nose guard John Jenkins isn’t starting for UGA, but he’s still excited.

5.  Here’s a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of how Kentucky beat WKU.

6.  After announcing his decision to start Connor Shaw, Steve Spurrier felt the need to tout his credentials.

7.  This writer doesn’t believe Shaw will unseat Garcia for long.

8.  There are still 8,000 tickets available for Tennessee’s opener against Montana.

9.  UT hopes to have a better handle on stopping an opponent’s no-huddle attack.

10.  A former James Franklin pupil will be a backup quarterback for Elon tomorrow.




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