Bobby Petrino: Let the Jokes and Public Relations Healing Begin

By M. Shannon Smallwood
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it’s happened. The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers have taken a huge risk and have tabbed Bobby Petrino as its new head football coach.

It was noticed all over the social media world yesterday, too.

The best of the day was this reply to a tweet:



Also, this:




Yes, Petrino is a Hilltopper. Thank you Lord for your wonderful sense of humor. To make things even more fun, Western Kentucky’s mascot is nicknamed Big Red. You can take that for what it is worth and make it into whatever joke suits your fancy.

Just to recap, this is how Petrino got to where he is today, in the style of those DirecTV commercials:

When you don’t beat LSU, you get angry. When you get angry, you buy a Harley. When you buy a Harley, you meet a 25 year old female former college volleyball player. When you meet a 25 year old female former volleyball player, you invite them to ride your Harley. When the 25 year old female former volleyball player rides your Harley, you end up in a roadside ditch. Don’t end up in a roadside ditch. Beat LSU.

Yep, that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Oh, and you have to give back $18 million as well. Then you end up at Western Kentucky making $850,000 a year.

In other words, Petrino will need to be a Hilltopper for 21 years to make up the money he was going to make in a third of that time with the Arkansas Razorbacks.

But give him credit. Petrino was everywhere yesterday and this morning spinning the public relations machine and trying to say all the right words.


“I made a mistake, just like a lot of people have,” Petrino told Dan Patrick on his show this morning. “But it’s made me a better person. There will be a time when they’re son makes a mistake. I’ll help them.”

“This last situation at Arkansas was all on me,” Petrino added. “I know the difference between right and wrong, and I chose to do wrong. I spent the last eight months working on repairing the damage I did with my family. I feel good about where we are at.”

“I learned that No. 1, I am always going to keep my eye on my family,” he said. “I drifted away from what has always been most important to me. I learned how much I enjoy working with young men and watching them excel, to be able to see the look in their eye when they have accomplished something you told them they could. The No. 1 thing that will help me be a better coach down the road is I will now spend as much time coaching the person as I will a player.”


Sounds all fine and dandy, but the only image in my head still is that smug smile when he accepted the Razorbacks job after jilting the Atlanta Falcons midway through the season and the neck-braced “I Just Called Ken Nugent” fool who ended his career in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Petrino mentioned several times that this move was about healing and about family because his daughter plays golf with the Louisville Cardinals. He also mentioned the Sun Belt Conference Titles he wants to win and his plan to turn Western Kentucky into the next BCS Boise State Broncos.

But right now, all of this is just talk and stuff to make everyone feel good and Petrino is a master of the used car salesman swagger.

Time will only tell if he has learned his lesson. He will be judged one year from today if he has an 11-1 Hilltopper team primed for a Bowl Game and one of the major BCS Conference Schools come calling offering $2 million per year and all the perks.

The old Petrino would bail on the kids he says he cares about. The new one better stick around for 10 years or he’s just another phony in College Football.

M Shannon Smallwood has over 10 years of experience in broadcasting and journalism in professional baseball and college athletics and is the ACC Football Guru, SEC Voice of Reason and College Football Comedian for Rant Sports. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.

Follow him @woodysmalls.

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