Petrino’s Ditching of Barry Odom Shows His True Colors (Yet Again)

Barry Odom, Bobby Petrino, Texas A&M football
photo credit: Nick Wenger / Bob Kramer

Bobby Petrino has some nice UNLV football Nike Polos if you’d like them. They have only been worn once. Some not at all. That’s because after being on the job with Rebels head coach Barry Odom for a few weeks, Petrino high tailed it out of Vegas for College Station, Texas, to call the plays for Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher. 

There is a lot of to unpack here, so stick with me.

First, to all of you who were quick to forgive Perino for his transgressions at Arkansas when he gave a tearful apology at the Little Rock Touchdown Club a few years ago – I told you so. A leopard doesn’t change its spots, and Petrino is still an arrogant narcissist to the core. He left the Falcons before the end of the regular season, he ditched a motorcycle and stomped on the State of Arkansas employee handbook and lied to then-UA athletics director Jeff Long. Fired at Louisville in his second trip there and now stuck a knife in the former Arkansas defensive coordinator’s back. It’s a real joke, he took that job and then ran to A&M. The ultimate slap in the face to Odom and the UNLV program and administration.

However, he may have done Odom a favor. Being a defensive-minded guy, Odom may not have minded giving Petrino full control of the offense, but what else would Petrino have demanded, especially if UNLV was dominating the Mountain West? Would he have tried to undermine Odom or created friction in the meeting room? It seems like having him in a program is always going to come with a price. You may win, but the players and support staff will despise him. (I have still yet to discover how he was totally received at Missouri State.) So maybe the Rebs’ offense won’t be quite as fast as quickly, but in the long run it may help Odom keep his job.

Bobby Petrino as an OC?

What puzzles me is why Petrino is interested in running offenses anyway? He was on his way to turning a hapless FCS program around at Missouri State. Was that not going to be a ticket back to an FBS head-coaching job? I don’t know how/why he would want to work for a head coach.

The last time the nearly 62-year-old Petrino was an OC, was in 2002. That was a long time and a lot less ego ago, even though it was pretty big then, too. In the twilight of his career, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for a coach who hasn’t been a part of someone else’s staff for 20 years to go back to that position. Maybe he got the feeling that no matter what he did in Springfield, Mo., he wasn’t going to make it back to the FBS. But, at this point and after all Petrino has endured, I feel ending it in a nice, calm place like Southwest Missouri would be a good situation.

If the move reeks of desperation on Petrino’s part, it is even worse for Fisher. Coming off a dismal 5-7 season, Fisher needs a monster finish next year to ensure he keeps his job that pays $9 million a year. If I were Odom, I’d be equally parts teed at Fisher and Petrino. It’s classless on both of their parts to leave another coach hanging, particularly in this case where I am sure Odom had to a do a little selling to the administration to bring in Petrino and his baggage. He looks silly now, and Fisher should be criticized for poaching a guy who hasn’t even settled in his office yet.

Questionable Texas A&M Football Staff

But he wants to win and Petrino is an offensive genius. He knows how to pull the right strings and call the right plays. Just like experienced defensive coordinator DJ Durkin does. Fisher yanked him away from SEC West rival Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss. Durkin is a well-known defensive mind with a stain on his resume after being fired as the head coach at Maryland in 2018 when one of his players died after a workout.

It looked like he was going to survive the storm of controversy, but after he was reinstated, players rebelled and he was fired. After a year cooling off period in which he was hired as a consultant with the Falcons, Kiffin and Ole Miss thought enough of him, even amidst accusations of a toxic culture at Maryland, to make him the Rebels’ DC. You see how much Durkin appreciated the gesture of faith as he bolts two years later.

So now, Fisher has two guys on his staff with questionable reputations who have proven to be unpredictable.  A desperate, high-stakes gamble times two indeed. If the Aggies win next season, no one will care. Even if both coaches leave after one year to take head-coaching jobs, which everyone understands is probable.

If things go bad, they will really go bad. I’d like to be on the sidelines the first time the Aggies’ offense or defense struggles and Fisher feels compelled to light into someone with his own input. That will be a powder keg.

The one thing everyone in the equation has in common is desperation. They are so desperate, they are willing to leave loyalty and relationships at the door. More money and a chance at advancement rule the day here. That is normally not a good way to do business. Instead of looking for a quick, risky fix, Fisher should invest in someone that is more reliable. Petrino’s actions of leaving Odom at the altar alone show he hasn’t changed and his antics may eventually burn Fisher and affect his job.


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