LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- The production guys at WDRB told me a Bobby Petrino story that I'd never heard today.
On one of Petrino's first weekly shows to be taped at the station, after arriving at the University of Louisville -- maybe even his first show -- they'd included an opponent's touchdown in a package of highlights.
It was, in fact, the only TD the Cardinals had allowed in the game, one in a series of the usual highlights for Petrino to talk over. Petrino saw it and was angry. He said he wasn't going to have that on his show. He made the producers redo the package while he sat in the studio and waited to start the show.
That's par for the course with Petrino.
But now he is faced with a tape he cannot edit. The storyline of his disgrace and dismissal at Arkansas will not go away. So Petrino is beginning his voice-over.
I bring all this up because, whether you realize it or not, the comeback tour began today for Bobby Petrino.
It won't be one of those blitz-type public relations deals. It won't be a two-minute drill. It's going to have to be a slow comeback.
But the kickoff came today on ESPN, when Petrino sat down with Joe Schad and executed about as flawless a game plan as he could in discussing the actions that brought about his firing amid disgrace at Arkansas. [Watch it here.]
There were even some tears from Petrino, who rarely shows emotion on camera without lifting a clipboard up to conceal his lips. And I don't doubt that the emotion on the screen was sincere. You'd have to be a robot for it not to be. And despite what might be easily deduced about Petrino, he's no automaton. He's human. And that's why he'll eventually get a second act.
In looking backward, Petrino said he was sorry, he said he was stupid, and expressed shock and self-anger, regret and remorse.
And then he did the only thing a person in his position can do -- said he would resolve to use all this to make him a better coach. Normally, that's an empty sounding thing, something that turns the story forward instead of backward.
For Petrino, who seemed in all the time I covered him to have an astonishing understanding of football and a nearly-as-astonishing lack of grasp on human beings and the way universities work, maybe a dose of humility is something that can fire him to the next level.
I have no doubt he'll get another chance. Football programs want to win. I think he'll be back on the sidelines -- if not by next season, then by the season after. Think about it. Or ask yourself -- if your program were in need of a coach, would you want him? As the months pass, programs will become more likely to take the chance, fans more likely to embrace it.
Today was the first step in that direction. Petrino went to a group he has hated as much as anyone -- the media. I think you'll see him more over the course of the season, in an occasional commentary role on games or on questions of offense. Not much. He's not comfortable in the role, and who knows what entity would use him with the story of his demise so fresh.
But you'll see him. And you'll begin to hear his name in connection with football again. Already, ESPN says he's been consulted by Cal and by the Tennessee Titans on offensive matters.
There's only one reason to go through the public confession Petrino undertook today -- a preparation to step back out into the public. Petrino hated interviews even when he was winning and on top. I can't imagine the work it took to get him into the mindset and shape to do the kind of gut-wrenching interview he did today.
It was, in the end, more than just an emotional confession or cathartic conversation. It was the beginning of Act 2 for Petrino.
Copyright 2012 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.
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