Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bobby Petrino - What's the Deal?

While we are in the midst of early to mid April which features college basketball's national championship games, the Masters, NHL playoffs, the NBA's final month, MLB's Opening Day, the last few days of strategy heading into the NFL draft, and the holiday of Easter, it's a shame that this news erupts.  To say it has not been a good year for college football coaches would be a massive understatement.  While one cannot really compare this to what happened at Penn State, Bobby Petrino's saga is a tale worth telling.
*Disclaimer:  I am not here to bash what he did in his personal life, that is not my place*

Its's quite difficult to figure out where to begin with Bob but I'll start with a chart of where he has coached:
Now, as a professional, it's obvious one is trying to move up the ranks to eventually land a head coaching job.  You take a promotion where you see fit.  What concerns me here is his commitment, in terms of length of years and what league, to each position.  In the 1980s it seems a natural progression of positions from grad assistant (GA) to QB coach and offensive coordinator (OC).  It was at Idaho when he met head coach John L. Smith, the future head coach at Louisville.  He was there a solid 3 seasons before heading to a bigger landscape at Arizona State where he mentored Jake Plummer.  This is where you notice Petrino is probably wanting a head coaching or legit OC position.  Knowing it probably won't happen soon at ASU, he heads to Nevada for just one year before leaving again to follow Coach Smith at Utah State.  He obviously likes John L. Smith but what is really the difference in positions between Utah State and Idaho?  Not much in my opinion but sometimes when you have a mentor, you stay loyal because it's where you are comfortable.  In fact, it would look like things were promising as Coach Smith took the head job at Louisville and Petrino followed him there.  At Louisville for one year, Petrino had the best offense in all of college football.

This is where I think Petrino's career took a turn for the worst.  Call me crazy but this is probably the first indication of what his future held nearly 15 years ago.  In his mid-30s you would think the Louisville position was one worth holding onto especially since they had hired revolutionary Athletic Director Tom Jurich a year prior.  Petrino gets antsy, he obviously wants bigger and better things so bolts for the first time to the NFL and Jacksonville Jaguars.  In fact, then Head Coach Tom Coughlin called him a genius and the best play caller he'd ever been around.  That's high praise!  Of course, after only 3 season in the pros, he goes back to  the college ranks at Auburn for one season before FINALLY getting a head coaching position at Louisville in 2003.  

You had it all right here at the Ville Bobby, what happened?
At first glance I'm sure Athletic Director Jurich saw a man who created brilliant offenses throughout his tenure in the collegiate game as well as the pro game.  Petrino obviously felt the NFL wasn't his "thing" so he came back to the arena he felt most comfortable.  And initially, you would feel pretty darn good about the hire especially since the Cardinals moved to the Big East and became a national power including an Orange Bowl BCS win.  Furthermore, on July 13, 2006, Petrino signed a 10-year, $25.6 million contract.  It would seem Petrino finally found his home.  Just six months after signing that deal, on January 7th, 2007, Petrino accepted the head coaching job with the Atlanta Falcons.  If this isn't the most mind boggling decision I've been alive to see in coaching, it sure is in the top 5.  A head coaching position in college is special.  Your team, your school, your community all take a personal interest emotionally and financially.  Louisville thought he was content because while uber successful, they were still closing in on trying to win a national championship.  

Well, Mike Vick is going to prison, I'm out!
Petrino felt the grass was again greener on the other side in the NFL because he was going to be a head coach this time.  That had to be the ONLY reason he went back, just to taste the top of his profession.  Why?  Because he only lasted 13 regular season games before leaving with just a note to his players apologizing for being a coward.  I have no problem with him leaving the Falcons but don't leave just before it's over.  It's cowardly, that's the best word for it.  On top of leaving Louisville after just signing a decade long extension, he now leaves the Falcons after not even a full calendar year.  To me, that's it.  I don't give this guy a second thought.  I would not hire this guy because it's painfully obvious he is never satisfied.

But of course, we all know there is always someone out there trying to get their program on the map.  This university happened to be SEC middle-of-the-pack program Arkansas.  We don't doubt his collegiate abilities because frankly, he put Arkansas on the map.  It took him no time to get to a Sugar Bowl and win a Cotton Bowl that should have been a BCS game.  In fact, it seemed Petrino finally realized his place and knew it was something no longer to take for granted.  Just a couple weeks ago, we heard Petrino was in a motorcycle accident.  If you were like me, I instantly thought of the Tiger Woods car accident!  I gave Petrino the benefit of the doubt because vehicular accidents are not a fun thing, especially on a bike.  His face at the press conference was all jacked up and I kind of felt sorry for him.

Then of course all this happened and was discovered:
  • March 28- he hired Jessica Dorrell as student-athlete development coordinator, Jessica was a former volleyball player the school.
  • April 1 - his bike accident
  • April 3 - lighthearted press conference about not making that mistake again including wearing a helmet
  • April 5 - he had an unknown passenger!!! Name:  Jessica Dorrell.  As Scooby Doo said, "ruh roh".
    That night he was put on administrative leave because he lied to the Athletic Director.
  • April 10 - Petrino was fired because he violated university policy when he hired Dorrell over 159 other applicants without clarifying that the two of them were connected. Worse, Long also discovered that Petrino had given Dorrell $20,000 in cash.  
  • Today, April 12 - Phone records have come out and over the past 7 months, Petrino has made over 300 calls and sent 4,300 texts to Jessica Dorrell including on gamedays, before dawn, and even during when the police report was being released to the public from his school issued cell phone.  The texts did include picture and video files but I don't want to know.
Bobby Petrino is a married father of four children.  3 of which attended and currently attend Louisville and one at Arkansas.  The biggest shame here is that his kids have to withstand this controversy.  It was very selfish and that's all I will say about that.  Now he has stated he has extreme work to do to make amends in his personal life.  Good luck.  He also hoped to someday get back into coaching.  Good luck.  

Nobody likes when someone has to hit their face on the pavement (literally in this case) to hopefully turn their life around.  I sincerely hope all of this wakes up Petrino from whatever fantasy world he was living in.  His personal life may never recover but I have a strange feeling his professional one will.  After some time has passed, a generous athletic director will see fit another chance.  The fact is Bobby can coach.  I don't dispute that.  But after questionable decisions in his professional career and personal life, one has to wonder at not only what time frame but also what program gives him another opportunity?  What will his next deal be?  I hear there's a vacancy here...

I believe this team lost to the SCLSU Mud Dogs in the Bourbon Bowl and will be looking for another coach soon...