“He’s the only bull I know of who carries around his own China shop.” – Winston Churchill on a political opponent.
That quote could easily describe Bobby Petrino who has left a host of programs (including Arkansas’) under a cloud of controversy.
Since 1990, Petrino has coached at 12 different programs. Oh, how I wish I was his realtor. He’s lived in more states than most Americans have visited. I don’t know why he doesn’t just buy the largest Airstream travel trailer possible and make that his home.
It’s easy to see how the other programs where he worked as an offensive coordinator in his early days were justifiable stepping stones. But we see the China shop finally caught up with BMFP once his head coaching career started. .
Let’s take a look at 3 seminal moments in Petrino’s career.
Louisville (2003 – 2006):
—After just one year, he secretly talked to Auburn officials about the Tigers’ HC job.
—After that, he led the Cardinals to 11 wins in 2004 and 12 wins in 2005.
—Signed a lucrative 10-year contract with the program.
—Five months into that contract, he left for greener pastures with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
—Hired back by Louisville in 2014; fired in 2018.
—Atlanta Falcons (2007):
—13 games into the 2007 season he was announced as head coach at Arkansas.
—He reportedly walked out of Atlanta without telling the team “Au revoir,” “Adios, “Tata” anything else.
—Arkansas (2008 – 2011):
—Quickly made the Hogs a competitive SEC program.
—Won 2 of 3 bowls in 4 years.
—Fired for a number of reasons including hiring his mistress, lying to then athletic director Jeff Long, etc.
—Since then, we’ve compiled 37 wins against 62 losses.
—Since departure, Arkansas has notched two wins in a mere three bowl game appearances
Much to the chagrin of Arkansans who thought they had locked the door on Bobby Petrino after the doorknob hit him in the a$$, he’ll be back on September 26th to coach his first game in the state since that Cotton Bowl win with the Hogs’ in January 2012.
Only this time it will be in Conway, not Fayetteville or Little Rock.
No offense to the Central Arkansas Bears, because they have become a powerhouse in their league, and truly a program the whole state should be proud of — but it’s not the same.
This time around, Petrino will be leading Missouri State, which he joined last winter. Because of the COVID crisis, the game will not generate nearly the revenue it could have. Many sports fans will likely try see the game to see his football I.Q. on display, and a few others will go to hurl tomatoes at him from the sparse stands.
I’d like to be among both. Bobby Petrino took us to the mountaintop and then threw us into an abyss of despair. We can only pray that Pittman is the right guy at the right time to extract us from such a dark place, as Petrino once was.
KEEP HOPE ALIVE:
Petrino’s exit from Arkansas was just a matter of time. Regardless of the circumstances under which he left, the one thing he left behind was hope. The hope I’m talking about is for the Hogs to once again be relevant in college football.
Petrino proved to the country that Arkansas could play on a national stage and compete among the big boys.
No excuses for a small recruiting base. No excuses for Northwest Arkansas supposedly being inhospitable to African Americans. These are theories that are not discussed when your team is a pre-season Top 5 team. We didn’t discuss these things when Petrino had us there.
But then, just like clockwork, his China shop showed up.
In 2019, Petrino publicly teared up and apologized in front of thousands in Little Rock for how he left the program in disgrace. More here:
Includes the little-known story of Fayetteville’s Black Razorbacks of the 1930s