LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- One day I'll stop writing about the mess that Bobby Petrino left with the University of Louisville football program last season.
But today is not that day.
Not when the two of the programs (U of L and Western Kentucky) where Petrino once worked will play Saturday at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, a facility where Petrino once delivered stirring victories for both schools.
Not when this was the week Petrino cranked up the juice on his Image Rehabilitation tour, appearing in front of a forgiving crowd at a Little Rock Quarterback Club to apologize (sort of) for the mess that he made at Arkansas.
Not when this was the week U of L administrators replied to the open records request I filed last month, asking for an accounting of all payments made to Petrino so far as the result of athletic director Vince Tyra's decisive, expensive and absolutely necessary decision to terminate Petrino last November.
When Tyra made the call less than two days after Louisville lost at Syracuse, 54-23, on Nov. 9, he said the entirety of Petrino's $14 million or so buyout would be paid. And it will be.
According to U of L, this is how much Petrino has been paid as of Wednesday:
*A payment of $5,917,536.62 on Dec. 31, 2018.
*A payment of $566,801.94 on March 31, 2019.
*A payment of $566,801.94 on June 30, 2019.
A reasonable person would assume that another $566,801.94 will be prepared on Sept. 30.
Those are numbers I had to stir into the pot after Petrino apologized to Arkansas fans for the way things ended in Fayetteville but didn't say a word about the mess he left in Louisville, other than to remind everybody that he coached Lamar Jackson here for several seasons.
The Little Rock group gave Petrino a standing ovation for his apology. Actually, according to Arkansas Democrat columnist Wally Hall, the fans gave him not one, not two, but three standing ovations.
Not surprising. Sports fans are a consistently forgiving group, especially for a coach for delivered victories that fans have not forgotten.
Arkansas has lost 12 consecutive Southeastern Conference games. ESPN's Football Power Index gives Arkansas less than a 20 percent win probability in its final seven SEC games this season.
When Petrino was in charge, the Razorbacks never lost a dozen straight SEC games. They beat Louisiana State and Ole Miss and Texas A&M and most teams not named Alabama. They finished the 2011 season ranked No. 11 in the Associated Press Top 25.
Arkansas fans stood because they remembered that -- and longed for another Top 25 team. I get it.
Louisville fans (at least many of them) stood and forgave Petrino when Tom Jurich brought him back to coach U of L a second time because they remembered the way Petrino beat Kentucky, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl.
Difference circumstances. Similar forgiveness.
But there are several other tidbits from Petrino's Little Rock appearance worth noting.
The first is that somebody made certain to get the word to Hall that Petrino "refused any compensation," for his appearance, a note he included in his column.
I can think of $7,051,140.50 reasons why Petrino was able to do that. As far as I can determine, Petrino has not refused any of the compensation from U of L.
The second is that Petrino said that one of things that he missed about not having a coaching position this fall was being around his players and having the opportunity to get them to excel.
Excel was not a word scripted into the Louisville playbook last season. In the aftermath of Petrino's dismissal, his former players have not been hesitant to discuss the lack of a relationship they had with their former head coach.
Last month, at the end of Louisville Football Media Day, I shared an elevator with four players from the fifth-floor press box to the first-four exit at Cardinal Stadium. Three starters. One second-teamer.
They joked about several questions they had been asked about the difference in playing for Petrino and their new head coach Scott Satterfield.
One said he was asked about his relationship with Petrino.
"Relationship?" the player said. "We didn't have a relationship."
Tyra, Satterfield and the Cardinals' coaching staff have been fixing that problem with the U of L football program this season. The results are encouraging. The trend line has angled back to the proper direction.
I expect Louisville to return to the Top 25 before Arkansas returns to the Top 25.
Bobby Petrino can continue his Image Rehabilitation Tour. But there are at least $7,051,140.50 reasons why University of Louisville football fans don't have to stand and applaud, too.
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