Bobby Petrino is a risk-free investment for Western Kentucky, and that's a great thing for them, since they did hire him as their football coach on Monday and will likely have to deal with him for at least a year or so before he moves on to another job.
A year is a long time, and long enough for some very strange thing to happen. Things like this include Petrino having to live up to the standard set by Willie Taggart, who did manage the sorcery of going 7-5 at Western Kentucky, a tiny program out of the Sun Belt with almost zero recruiting base and little in the way of facilities. Those potential strange things also include Petrino not doing as well as imagined at WKU, something any coach stands just a few key injuries and bad strokes of luck from doing.
Weirdest of all, Petrino may come close to some small degree of redemption in the eyes of the college football universe. It sounds insane now, yes, but a year is a very, very long time.
Petrino should in the end be successful as a head coach at Western Kentucky. He has a good amount of Sun Belt-level talent and better at his disposal. He has a Sun Belt schedule with two of the SEC's more beatable teams, Kentucky and Tennessee, on the docket. He can get a small, tidy success story on his resume, and then try slowly edging up a level to a BCS conference job in need of fast wins and abundant, well-schemed points.
Then, if this all happens, Petrino will get hired again by an FBS program. Barring utter disaster, coaches usually do, even if they have sex with an assistant, crash a motorcycle, and lie badly about it to their bosses.
It would be delightful to take his reptilian personality, personal treacheries, mercenary tendencies, and utter inability to tolerate success without tripping over his own member and brand him a failure. He may be in many senses of the word a failure. But Petrino is also talented, and talent is rare enough to excuse almost any failure--particularly when it involves football, the South, and people capable of winning 10 games a year.
At the very least, it is an opportunity for Petrino to innovate on failure. He's already taken NFL flameout and sex scandal, so the third act could contain something truly novel. Then again, he has always been an innovator.
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