BOZICH | Talk of the Town? Petrino, Petrino, Petrino - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Talk of the Town? Petrino, Petrino, Petrino

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Bobby Petrino introduced Garrick McGee as Louisville's new assistant head coach Monday. Bobby Petrino introduced Garrick McGee as Louisville's new assistant head coach Monday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – On day five of The Return of Bobby Petrino to the University of Louisville, the narrative kept moving.

Last Thursday, when Petrino arrived from Western Kentucky, the story was U of L athletic director Tom Jurich and his reasons for hiring Petrino. Jurich was the talk of the town and the target of stinging national commentaries.

No surprise. Had to be that way. This isn't like hiring Charlie Strong or Howard Schnellenberger. This is strictly a Time Will Tell move. Might be a story of redemption. Might be a most embarrassing moment. There's no in-between. Stay tuned. Be assured that America will.

On Sunday, Dave Stone, senior pastor at Southeast Christian Church, delivered his weekly sermon. Stone is a close friend of Steve Kragthorpe, the former U of L coach  who was bounced from the job in 2009, three seasons after Kragthorpe could not win enough while trying to follow Petrino.

His topic? Stone preached that it is never too late to say that you're sorry and draw another chance. That outlook, Stone said, applied to husbands, wives, daughters, sons, friends, bosses, enemies – and football coaches.

You can bet that similar discussions crackled in other churches, restaurants and family rooms. Consider it a teaching moment – whether you're thumbs down or thumbs up on the Petrino hire.

On Monday the news cycle kept churning with a new topic to debate. Actually, it's an old topic -- winning, as in,  "Can Louisville actually win a football national championship, especially if the Cards spend, spend, spend?"

Jurich and Petrino certainly sound serious about this idea of navigating the Louisville program into the new four-team playoff and inspiring confetti and a parade. It appears they're at least doubling the salaries that the offensive and defensive coordinators made under Charlie Strong.

You hear it from Garrick McGee, U of L's new offensive coordinator. Head coaching opportunities at the FBS level are harder to win than the Powerball. McGee gave up his head-coaching job at Alabama-Birmingham to help Petrino run the U of L offense as the assistant head coach while bumping up his salary.

"When he called the one thing I asked him was, 'Is there a chance for us to win a national championship?' " McGee said. "'If there is, then I'm interested.' And he said, 'Yeah, this is the one, that we can get back together and we can go into a university -- he didn't tell me which one at the time -- that's set up for us to build us a program that can compete for it every year.' "

You hear it from Jake Smith, U of L's most experienced offensive lineman. Smith emerged from the Schnellenberger Football Complex Monday afternoon smiling into the rain and growling sky. Smith loved Charlie Strong and the departing staff.

"I think this is going to be great," Smith said. "Coach Petrino and Coach McGee have already shared some of the things they want to do here, and it's going to be exciting. I'm ready."

You can see it in the W2s of the assistant coaches. McGee is the only guy that Petrino has officially named to his staff. He said that he expects to announce more names before he sends assistants recruiting Thursday.

Multiple media reports say that one of those names will be Todd Grantham. Some Georgia fans might be ecstatic that Grantham will stop running the Bulldogs' defense to run the defense at Louisville, but Georgia coach Mark Richt is not one of those people.

The word is that Louisville will pay Grantham $1 million per season, a bump of $150,000, to move from the Southeastern Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference. A story by Kevin Scarbinsky in al.com said that McGee will reportedly make $650,000 -- and U of L will play his $550,000 buyout to UAB. According to the Kentucky government data base, former U of L defensive coordinator Vance Bedford's salary was $400,000 while Shawn Watson was paid $325,000 to direct the offense.

"I think it says a lot," Petrino said. "It says a lot about Tom Jurich and his commitment to our success, (U of L president Dr. James) Ramsey and his commitment to our success and the overall brand of the program because I think it's at an all-time high.

"Throughout the country right now the University of Louisville is looked at a lot different than when I was first coming in here as the head coach." (Double-entendre unintentional, but unavoidable.)

Consider this: According to a story in the Honolulu Advertiser, in 2003 there were 27 head coaches making $1 million or more. Bobby Petrino, in his first season at Louisville, was not one of those guys.

By 2006, there were 42 Million Dollar Men. That club included Petrino, who was making about $1.743 million when he led U of L to an Orange Bowl victory and left to coach the Atlanta Falcons.

Now Louisville is apparently going to have a $1 million assistant as well as a head coach making $3.5 million who will be one of the 15 highest-paid head coaches in the nation.

More to discuss. More to debate. The Return of Bobby Petrino narrative keeps moving.

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