NCAA Football Louisville Cardinals

5 Reasons Why Hiring Bobby Petrino Was a Mistake for Louisville Football

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5 Reasons Why Hiring Bobby Petrino Was a Mistake for Louisville Football

bobby petrino
Jim Brown - USA TODAY Sports

The Louisville Cardinals have turned to a familiar face to be their next head coach, hiring former head coach Bobby Petrino to lead the program into the ACC in 2014. Petrino returns to Louisville to replace Charlie Strong who left after four seasons to take over the Texas Longhorns. While Petrino brings with him a reputation for building explosive offenses and has a history of on-field success for the Cardinals, athletic director Tom Jurich has made a terrible decision hiring Petrino.

Since leaving Louisville in the lurch to jump to the NFL and coach the Atlanta Falcons, Petrino has only continued to sully his reputation as a coach. He left Atlanta after just 13 games in his first season in charge to jump back to college to lead the Arkansas Razorbacks. After four seasons with Arkansas, Petrino saw his tenure end quite unceremoniously after what has now become an infamous motorcycle accident that opened a whole can of worms on the unscrupulous lifestyle of Petrino.

Then, after taking a year away from coaching to “focus on family” Petrino was back in the game as the head coach of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in 2013. Now, after one season there, he’s jumping ship to Louisville where he promises to end his career after a long tenure of coaching. And with a reputation like Petrino’s, how could you possibly doubt that he’s being completely honest?

There are a laundry list of reasons why Bobby Petrino was a terrible choice for Louisville that the school and Jurich seem to have ignored before making their decision. Here are five reasons why hiring Bobby Petrino was a massive mistake for Louisville football.

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5. Off-Field Distraction

bobby petrino
Beth Hall - USA TODAY Sports

Do you enjoy motorcycle accident jokes, Louisville? Well, too bad because you’re about to be inundated with them. Petrino has become a punchline in college football not only for his tendency to leaves jobs in the middle of the night without telling anybody, but now also for his abuse of power when he was with the Arkansas Razorbacks. You remember that one, Louisville? Where he hired a young woman (possibly illegally) over more qualified applicants to carry on an extramarital affair that was discovered when he crashed his motorcycle with both on board? That sounds like a good ambassador for your program, right?

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4. Stepping Backwards in History

bobby petrino
Jim Brown - USA TODAY Sports

Hiring a re-tread like Petrino isn’t a move that usually works out so well. There’s always some residual bad blood when a coach leaves a program, especially considering the way that Petrino did it last time. While he certainly had significant success on the field, he was completely duplicitous and scheming his entire time on the job. What are the chances he captures the same lightning in a bottle that made him successful last time he was at Louisville? This isn’t Conference USA or the Big East he’s jumping into, either. If he struggles early, will those hurt feelings come out to sour this relationship a second time?

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3. Wake of Destruction Left Behind Him

bobby petrino
Jim Brown - USA TODAY Sports

While Petrino will try and keep the focus on the accomplishments of his teams on the field (particularly the offense), there’s a lot of stuff to overcome once he’s left a job. Here’s what Tom Jurich, the AD who just hired him, said about cleaning up after Petrino in 2008:

“Bobby went to areas where he thought he was strong recruiting and some of them panned out and some didn’t. That’s the nature of it. But listen, we had to clear out a lot of discipline issues. And our numbers suffered. We cleared 21 kids out of here, and that’s a lot. That’s a big hit for anybody to take, Eric. I don’t know anyone that has. But we want to do things the right way.”

And “anonymous” SEC coaches on the mess left at Arkansas:

“They are going to be slim in a lot of spots. It’s going to take them three years to get a good foundation. It’s a product of bad recruiting – which is typical of a Bobby Petrino school. It’s the same thing that happened at Louisville that got Steve Kragthorpe fired. Petrino didn’t leave him any players. It’s the same thing at Arkansas. They have no players on defense. Petrino would load up on offense and leave the cupboard bare. That’s why he can’t ever get over the hump.”

Bobby Petrino: the toxic waste of college football coaches. You’ll never stop cleaning up his mess.

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2. Commitment to the Job (or Lack Thereof)

bobby petrino
Beth Hall - USA TODAY Sports

When Jurich started the search to replace Charlie Strong, he said that he wanted a coach that saw Louisville as a destination job and that would stay at the school long-term. While Petrino said that this is where he wants to end his career during his introductory press conference (similar to what he said before leaving Louisville last time), his track record would say otherwise. Petrino has held 15 different coaching positions in his career and left seven of them after just one season. He has never held a job longer than four years, which he has done twice with Louisville (2003-06) and Arkansas (2008-11). When looking for a “long-term” coach, why choose a serial job-hopper that has already left you once?

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1. Great Assistants Ready to be Head Coaches Available

chad morris
Joshua S. Kelly - USA TODAY Sports

The two most successful coaches at Louisville in the last 10 years (Petrino and Strong) have been first-time head coaches that Louisville gave opportunities to. There are so many great assistant coaches right now in college football that are ready to take over the program, it’s mind-boggling that the Cardinals would stray from the formula now. Chad Morris, Pat Narduzzi, Kirby Smart and a whole host of other coordinators would have made great fits at Louisville to lead the Cardinals into their future in the ACC. Instead, Jurich is turning to a retread in Petrino who already burned them once and relying on the infamously slick coach’s word that he’s a changed man. What could go wrong?