Should the University of Louisville hire Bobby Petrino to replace Charlie Strong?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – People have asked me for one good
reason that the University of Louisville would give Bobby Petrino another
chance to fill the job that he couldn't wait to leave.
I can give you one.
Heck, I can give you five:
1. Louisville 55, TCU 7.
2. Louisville 44, Boise State 40.
3. Louisville 63, Oregon State 27.
4. Louisville 69, North Carolina 14.
5. Louisville 24, Wake Forest 13.
See. I didn't even have to get into the four consecutive
victories over Kentucky or that nationally televised Thursday Night victory
over West Virginia or making Cincinnati look like the Bearcats had wandered
over from the Pee Wee League.
Flirt with other jobs seconds after signing a contract
extension? Shrug. Interview for the job at Auburn when the job at Auburn was
not yet open. Shrug, shrug. Leave for the Atlanta Falcons before anybody had
time to make room for the Orange Bowl trophy at the Schnellenberger Football
Complex. Shrug, shrug, shrug.
The stuff that happened at Arkansas. Sorry, I don't have
enough shrugs to capture that one.
If the Cards actually make a deal to bring Petrino here from
Western Kentucky University, those shoulder muscles at U of L will be getting a
terrific workout because there will be plenty of reasons to shrug because there
are only a few ways this story can be spun:
1. Everybody deserves a second chance; 2. Bobby
Petrino's teams play an entertaining style of football; 3. Bobby Petrino wins.
Upon further review, better move that third reason to the
head of the line. Let's be honest and all agree that Petrino's 41-9 record at
Louisville from 2003-06 is the only reason that U of L athletic director Tom
Jurich might make this move.
Petrino is a fabulous football coach, even though the
results this season during his 8-4 comeback performance at WKU were several
yard makers short of fabulous. Of all the football coaches I've covered in this
area (Lee Corso, Howard Schenllenberger, Jerry Claiborne, Hal Mumme, Bill
Mallory, John L. Smith, Charlie Strong), Petrino is easily the finest offensive
strategist and play caller.
This is where the story takes a hard tumble out of bounds. Disloyalty
toward Jurich defined Petrino's four-year stay at Louisville. The U of L
athletic director gave Petrino his first head coaching opportunity. Didn't
matter. He was always in a hurry to get out the door.
He went to Atlanta – and then quit on the Falcons before his
first season was over.
His four-season stay at Arkansas? I've already told you that
I didn't have enough shrugs to describe the spectacularly trashy tabloid ending
to Petrino's stay in Fayetteville.
So if this happens, how does Louisville sell moving beyond
(or looking past) Petrino's troubles? How do the Cards sell it to skeptics
within their fan base, the ones who want no part of Petrino, Part II?
Two ways. The first, of course, will be a story of second
chances. America loves second chances. Petrino won't be the first to get one.
Petrino erred. He has admitted that he erred. His wife,
Becky, has given him a second chance. So did Western Kentucky. Why not
Administrators at WKU have been unrelenting in their praise
of Petrino during the 13 months he's been in Bowling Green. Athletic director
Todd Stewart has said repeatedly that Petrino has handled every opportunity to
interact with alumni, fans and boosters with enthusiasm and grace.
Many of Petrino's former players are eager to see him
return. Oscar Brohm had one son (Brian) play for Petrino and two others (Jeff
and Greg) work for him at Louisville.
"I'm a Bobby Petrino fan," Oscar Brohm said. "All my sons
are Bobby Petrino fans. We like Bobby. He's been great to my sons and my
family. He's a great coach and players like playing for a great coach. I'd love
to see Bobby come back."
Indeed. But I said there were two ways to sell this story.
What's the second?