Bobby Petrino and Texas A&M: The Odd Marriage That’d be Arkansas Football’s Worst Nightmare

Jimbo Fisher, Bobby Petrino, Texas A&M football
photo credit: Texas A&M Athletics / Nick Wenger

Former Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino has emerged as a candidate to become the next Texas A&M offensive coordinator, according to a report by 247Sports on Friday.

Citing sources, 247Sports’ Chris Hummer is reporting that Petrino will interview for the position “in the coming days.”

Currently coaching at the FCS level, Petrino has not been an assistant coach in two decades. He was last an offensive coordinator at Auburn in 2002 and has since been a head coach at Louisville (twice), Arkansas, Western Kentucky and now Missouri State, as well as a stop in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons.

Returning to the SEC as an offensive coordinator would be a surprising move for Petrino, but even more surprising if it happened at Texas A&M, where he’d be working for Jimbo Fisher — another offensive guru who has continued to call plays as a head coach.

However, the fact Petrino is finishing his third season in the FCS ranks and Fisher being on one of the hottest seats in the country despite a massive buyout could lead to the odd marriage becoming a reality.

It helps that there’s already a connection on staff at Texas A&M. Mark Robinson, the Aggies’ Associate AD for Football, was Petrino’s director of football operations at Arkansas from 2008-11.

Whether or not anything comes out of the reported interview remains to be seen, but it’s still a scenario that will surely lead to Arkansas football fans lighting up message boards and the phone lines on sports talk radio shows.

Impact on Arkansas Football

If the Bobby Petrino-to-Texas A&M thing comes to fruition, the good news is that the Razorbacks won’t have to worry about stopping him when Missouri State comes to town to open the 2025 season.

When the Bears visited Fayetteville this season, it nearly resulted in one of the most embarrassing losses in Arkansas history. The Razorbacks needed a 73-yard touchdown pass from KJ Jefferson to Rocket Sanders and an 82-yard punt return by Bryce Stephens to turn a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit into a lead.

The final score of 38-27 was a bit deceiving since Missouri State gave Arkansas all it could handle. It was a much closer game than you’d expect for a team then ranked in the top 10 against an opponent from that level, even if Missouri State was ranked No. 5 in the FCS at the time.

The bad news is Arkansas would have to try to stop a Bobby Petrino-led offense every year — or every other year, depending on the SEC’s scheduling format when Oklahoma and Texas join the league in 2025.

In that scenario, he’d have four- and five-star athletes at his disposal instead of the Power Five and FBS rejects that scored on five of their first 10 possessions against the Razorbacks this season.

That’s a tall task for whomever Arkansas hires as its new defensive coordinator, especially considering the first matchup would be inside AT&T Stadium — where the Razorbacks have gone 1-8 and given up 32 points per game since Petrino’s departure. Petrino, on the other hand, was 4-0 and averaged 35.5 points in that building as the Arkansas football coach.

Calls for Petrino to return to Fayetteville, either as head coach again or as a replacement for current offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, have mostly been reserved for a small — yet vocal — segment of the fan base. They would almost certainly start to grow if Petrino, as an Aggie, maintained Texas A&M’s habit of beating Arkansas.

Quite the Potential Coordinator Duo at Texas A&M

Arkansas football fans are well aware of how Bobby Petrino’s tenure in Fayetteville ended. For those who’ve been living under a rock the past decade, here’s a refresher:

Fresh off back-to-back seasons with 10-plus wins for the Razorbacks, Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident on, of all days, April Fool’s Day — April 1, 2012.

It was later revealed that he wasn’t alone when the wreck happened. His mistress was also on the motorcycle, a fact that he later lied about to his boss, athletics director Jeff Long. Further investigation also turned up that he hired his mistress to a position on his staff over other more qualified candidates.

All of that led to Long being forced to fire Petrino — with cause — and bring in John L. Smith as the interim coach of what was then a top-10 team. The rest, as they say, is history. The Razorbacks’ decade of misery didn’t end until last season, when they finally finished in the AP Poll for the first time since Petrino’s ouster.

Even before that incident, Petrino didn’t exactly have the best reputation. In order to take the Arkansas job, he infamously left the Falcons just 13 games into his lone season as an NFL head coach. He put a four-sentence note in players’ lockers and didn’t tell any of his assistants, which later led to former Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer — Petrino’s defensive coordinator in Atlanta — calling him a “gutless bastard,” among other things.

Later in his career, Petrino was accused of nepotism (Louisville even had to start addressing nepotism in its contracts). Even though he had coached Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson a few years earlier, his second stint at Louisville ended with him being fired amidst a miserable 2-10 season.

One thing not on his resume, though, is a scandal involving the death of player. That’s what led to D.J. Durkin — now Texas A&M’s defensive coordinator — being fired from his only head coaching gig, at Maryland.

More on the possibility of Bobby Petrino to Texas A&M here:

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