LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — When South Florida decided Charlie Strong was not the coach who could make the Bulls' football program soar two months ago, Bobby Petrino made certain USF administrators were aware he was eager and motivated to do big things in Tampa.
Heck, Petrino already had a place in Florida.
Petrino, the two-time University of Louisville coach, did not get an interview.
Folks in the football world say that Petrino also believed Mississippi State was another perfect place to begin his comeback.
No interview in Starkville either.
Bobby Petrino, Part II at Arkansas?
Petrino made his first post-Louisville speaking appearance in Little Rock last September. An Arkansas sportswriter texted me with questions about Petrino after the Razorbacks fired Chad Morris.
Maybe … forget about it.
Missouri? Sorry, no interest.
Florida State? You're kidding, right?
"As far as Division I (FBS programs), he was blocked," said a source with knowledge of the situation.
Another source told me that a pair of Conference USA programs — Old Dominion and UT-San Antonio — passed on Petrino for their head coaching openings, too.
On Wednesday Petrino, once an NFL head coach and winner of the Orange Bowl at Louisville, discovered what kind of job he could land — the head position at Missouri State. A desperate situation for a coach desperate for coaching work.
Missouri State won 1 of 11 games last season.
Missouri State has endured 10 consecutive losing seasons.
Missouri State averaged 6,450 fans for five home games this season while playing in its 17,500-seat stadium.
Missouri State lost to Tulane, 58-6, and the Bears also lost to Indiana State by four touchdowns.
Missouri State, which has an athletic department led by Kyle Moats, whose tenure as an assistant athletic director at Louisville (2005-09) overlapped with the final two seasons of Petrino’s first coaching stop at U of L.
The word is that Petrino was determined to get back into the game. He is driven to prove that he is the coach who won 41 of 50 games during his first run at Louisville, not the guy that players did not want to play for and coaches did not want to work with during the ugly end to his second run with the Cardinals last year.
“He’s definitely motivated,” one source said.
The next question is obvious: What is Missouri State’s motivation?
There was no need to hire a private investigator to determine how toxic the final years of Petrino’s run became.
If you’re talking about somebody who was definitely motivated, don’t forget U of L athletic director Vince Tyra. He was so determined to cleanse the program of Petrino’s brand of paranoid negativity that Tyra agreed to pay Petrino about $14 million not to coach the final three years and two games of his contract.
Know this: Because of the absurd, upgraded extension that former athletic director Tom Jurich gave Petrino, Louisville will not receive any salary relief from Petrino’s deal with Missouri State. My source said that he believes Petrino will earn about $250,000 to coach the Bears when he is formally announced on Thursday.
“Bobby wants to prove to people that he can still win,” one source said.
Petrino could not win in 2018 at Louisville. The Cards were 2-8 on a fast track to 2-10 when Tyra announced he had seen enough.
When Scott Satterfield, Petrino’s replacement, essentially took the same players and won 8 of 13 games, defeating five programs that had mostly routed the Cardinals last season, the case to hire Petrino became more challenging.
Except for Missouri State.
I asked a U of L administrator if Missouri State officials called for a scouting report on Petrino and the Cards' 2018 season.
You know, what went wrong? What were his issues? Were they fixable? Why did the Louisville players speak so critically of Petrino and respond so enthusiastically to Satterfield?
Surely somebody from Missouri State called top administrators at Louisville to ask those questions and more.
"No," one source said.
Apparently Moats and Missouri State decided to throw a "Bobby Petrino, Hail Mary."
What other chance would a place like Missouri State have to hire a former NFL head coach who won an Orange Bowl and coached Lamar Jackson?
They have to close their eyes, cross their fingers and hope they did not get the guy who walked out on Louisville the first time, who tried to undercut Tommy Tuberville at Auburn, who walked out on the Atlanta Falcons, who had his motorcycle moment at Arkansas and who had everybody quit on him at Louisville only 14 months ago.
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