With Charlie Strong leaving the Louisville Cardinals to become the head coach of the Texas Longhorns, Louisville is now in the unenviable position of replacing Strong. There are several great candidates for the position, but one interesting name that has been interviewed for the job is former Louisville head coach and current Western Kentucky head coach Bobby Petrino. Having interviewed Petrino means that the Cardinals are at least considering him as a serious candidate, but they would be crazy to re-hire him as the head coach at Louisville.
Petrino is a tempting hire for any team with a vacancy, especially the Cardinals. He was 41-9 in four seasons at Louisville, culminating in a Big East championship and Orange Bowl victory in 2006. He also turned around the Arkansas Razorbacks over a four-year period, making them a legitimate competitor in the SEC. In 2013, Petrino led Western Kentucky to a respectable 8-4 and third place in the competitive Sun Belt.
But all of that is the least Petrino has done in the past decade. He also abruptly left Louisville for the Atlanta Falcons six months after signing a 10-year contract to stay with the Cardinals. He then left the Falcons before completing a full season to become the head coach at Arkansas. Of course, he was ultimately fired by Arkansas for lying about an improper relationship with a member of the football staff that came to light after he crashed his motorcycle.
Petrino is a great college football coach, but he comes with a lot of off-field baggage and Louisville should know that as well as anyone. He’s disloyal, irresponsible and unpredictable. His past tells us that at some point he’s going to make another mistake that embarrasses himself and his employer, and that’s not something the Cardinals need to risk.
On top of that, Louisville should know that if they brought back Petrino it wouldn’t be a permanent stop for him. We know from Petrino’s past that he’s always going to be looking around for a better job, and even with Louisville set to join the ACC for the 2014 season, Petrino wouldn’t hesitate to leave if another opportunity came along. Even if Petrino were to return to Louisville, somewhere in the back of his mind he knows he wants another shot to coach in the SEC and redeem himself for how things ended at Arkansas.
Bringing Petrino back to Louisville is quite a tempting proposition, because he’s certainly someone that can continue to build off of what Strong has done the past four seasons. But after their experience with him from 2003 to 2006 and watching how things ended for him at Arkansas, they should know better and they’d be crazy to re-hire him.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.