Taking Stock of Trey Biddy’s Hunch about Paul Petrino Returning to the UA

Paul Petrino, Bobby Petrino, Arkansas football
photo credit: Idaho Athletics / Craven Whitlow

The more Petrinos, the merrier. At least at Arkansas.

With the return of Bobby Petrino as offensive coordinator in late November, it was almost sort of like getting the band back together.

Garrick McGee ultimately fell through as a quarterbacks or wide receivers coach, but Petrino did bring in someone from his past by tapping into his Missouri State pipeline for Ronnie Fouch as receivers coach when it was all said and done.

However, there is still a Petrino out there that is no longer tied to a school that would more than likely be willing to provide his services.

Paul Petrino. Younger brother of Bobby. Formerly the Razorbacks’ offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for the first two seasons of Bobby’s original four-year tenure with Arkansas football, and then during the ill-fated John L. Smith led campaign of 2012.

Quick aside: Yes, Paul, you could’ve still run the football with Dennis Johnson and Knile Davis the entire fourth quarter of the Louisiana-Monroe game that resulted in a 34-31 defeat instead of having a clearly flustered Brandon Allen continually flinging it downfield to no avail.

Don’t let Paul Petrino’s profile status on “X” fool you. According a FootballScoop report, he won’t return as offensive coordinator at Central Michigan, where he had served for the previous two seasons under Jim McElwain, who himself had bottomed out at Florida after two and a half mostly average seasons. 

Before that, Petrino had been in charge of the Idaho football program, leading the Vandals for nine seasons and compiling a 34-66 record, with only one winning season, which saw them win the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

It’s frankly bonkers that Idaho let him stay around that long with only one season that saw him win more than 5 games, and it took him five years to even do that. I guess he didn’t ring the bell enough for his own good.

The Idea of Reuniting with Bobby Petrino

Many coaches who flame out at jobs are still picked up by other staffs all the time nowadays in major college football.

The doors to Nick Saban’s Rehabilitation School for Resuscitating Careers are obviously now closed with his recent retirement. Before Saban decided to hang up the headset and the whistle, though, he spent the majority of his final 10 seasons in Tuscaloosa hiring assistants that had fallen on hard times while leading their respective programs.

Some of the Saban school’s most impressive alumni include Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian, who were both unceremoniously dumped by USC for not winning at the clip Pete Carroll did in the mid 2000s when both were assistants for him.

That particular duo has certainly found its footing. Kiffin has turned Ole Miss into a consistent top-15 team while Sarkisian had Texas in the College Football Playoff this year and has the Longhorns primed to win even with joining the SEC.

Even Chad Morris is able to find his way back into a program with his connections, as Dabo Swinney brought him back into the Clemson family as an analyst in 2023. Not that it worked wonders, given the Tigers limped to a 4-4 ACC record and had to settle for a come-from-behind Gator Bowl win over Kentucky just to finish 8-5.

On an episode of the HawgSports podcast last week, publisher and message board aficionado Trey Biddy addressed a board post on Biddy’s 247Sports site that speculated Paul Petrino might have stepped down from his post at Central Michigan to come here.

Biddy acknowledged that he had heard that speculation, that it made sense to him and “that from an analyst standpoint, it makes all the sense in the world.”

A few minutes later, he spoke about Texas A&M having an athletic director search currently, and mentioned what if Hunter Yurachek was on their radar.

Then he circled back to Paul Petrino and said, “with regards to that, it just feels like they might as well go ahead and announce it. In fact, I’d be stunned if he doesn’t end up back in Arkansas.”

Paul Petrino was making $150,000 as the offensive coordinator at CMU, and Biddy mentions that an SEC analyst typically makes between $140-150K. In a sense, it would almost be a lateral move, despite the drop in prestige and responsibility.

Familiarity with Arkansas Football

Having spent two stints in Fayetteville, along with having been on his older brother’s staffs at Utah State, Louisville and the Atlanta Falcons, Paul Petrino may be an ideal fit to help jumpstart the Razorbacks’ stagnant offense of this past season.

Petrino, like his older brother, knows how to coach quarterbacks and wide receivers. Last year, Arkansas football struggled moving the ball through the air. He would be able to help teach players in practice how to run correct routes and get open, and his intricate familiarity of Bobby’s system should come in handy.

Analysts are usually in charge of scouting the team’s opposition and helping give tips on how to attack the other team’s defense. Paul Petrino, despite being away from the SEC for a while, is still familiar enough with the programs that he won’t be coming in completely out of left field.

The re-hiring of the older Petrino brother was one of the most surprising offseason moves the Arkansas football program has made in years.

The re-hiring of the younger Petrino would be anything but.

UPDATE: As of Monday night, it appears that Paul Petrino has landed at South Alabama to replace yet another former Razorback coach, Michael Smith, as the Jaguars’ wide receivers coach. FootballScoop is again reporting the news.

Smith’s salary in 2023 was $121,000 in 2023 so that provides a good ballpark figure as to what Petrino can expect to make. This doesn’t look like an upward or lateral move in any way.

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See more from Biddy on Paul and Bobby Petrino at 34:00 here:

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More coverage of Arkansas football and Bobby Petrino from BoAS… 

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