Bobby Petrino, the head coach at Louisville from 2003 to 2006, is leaving after one year at Western Kentucky to reclaim his former job, Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde reports. He'll replace Charlie Strong, who left to take over at Texas. Forde reports Petrino will be introduced on Thursday. ESPN, Louisville media, and WKU media have confirmed Forde's report.
SB Nation's Mike Rutherford reported Tuesday that Petrino was one of U of L's final three candidates.
Petrino, 52, has always been a guy to bounce between jobs throughout his long coaching career. He usually gets results, but to hire him is to chance instability, as he's left multiple jobs after short stints and was fired for dishonesty at Arkansas.
There's a reason he's always in demand. He's considered an offensive guru who's found immediate success at nearly every stop along the way, at least in college ball. He went 41-9 as Louisville's head coach, including an Orange Bowl win, and has a 83-30 career record at the college level.
Petrino had a strong desire to return to the scene of his first head coaching job despite his awkward exit, per the Louisville Courier-Journal's Adam Himmelsbach. The coach left Louisville after signing a 10-year contract the first time around. Himmelsbach spoke to Petrino's father, Bobby Sr., who said that his son is enthusiastic about the Cardinals job:
"He told me this weekend he would like the opportunity to coach at Louisville again," Bob Sr. said by telephone on Monday. "He said that he's been everywhere, the NFL and everywhere else, and he said probably the biggest mistake he'd ever made as a coach was leaving Louisville."
"I know Tom Jurich pretty well, and he's a good man," Bob Sr. said. "He works very hard. I just hope he can forgive my son. "I don't think there's any other place in the world where (Bobby) can do the things he can do in Louisville," Bob Sr. said. "I don't think there's any question, if he was offered this job, he'd take it."
After spending the first 20 years of his coaching career as an assistant coach working in the college and NFL ranks (including a stint at Auburn, where he once interviewed for his head coach Tommy Tuberville's job), Petrino landed his first head coaching gig in 2003, with the Louisville Cardinals. After three successful years with the Cards, which included an Orange Bowl win and two top-10 finishes, Petrino bolted for a lucrative deal with the Atlanta Falcons. A failed attempt in the NFL saw him leave without even completing the 2007 season.
In December 2007, Petrino signed on to become the next head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Back in his college element, he led the Hogs back to glory with three bowl game appearances in four years, including a Cotton Bowl title in 2011 to wrap up an 11-2 season that saw Arkansas finish No. 5 in the final polls. In his four years with the Razorbacks, the team went 34-17 with a solid 17-15 mark against SEC foes. The program appeared to be ready to take the next step towards a national title.
Petrino was run out of Fayetteville shortly after the 2011 season following a motorcycle accident. Once the crash details were released by police, it was revealed he was carrying on a relationship with a former Arkansas volleyball player and current football team assistant. On April 12, 2012, he was fired by the university. He was off the sidelines for only one season.
Petrino's Hilltoppers exit means offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm is a likely replacement for the Hilltoppers. He spent four years under Petrino at Louisville in the early 2000s and stayed on with the Cardinals after the head coach left, rising from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. He also served as OC at UAB in 2012, and his combination of experience and familiarity with WKU would make for an easy transition.
When SB Nation's Steven Godfrey profiled Petrino last March, Western Kentucky athletic director Todd Stewart admitted that losing the head coach in a short amount of time was possible:
"We want him here for a long time, obviously, but I'm not naive to the turnover. This was Willie Taggart's alma mater and he only stayed here three years. Certainly change is a possibility but I don't want to have to replace a head coach every year. I think continuity is important and that's what we're striving for."
It's safe to say Louisville is taking a risk by bringing Petrino back.
Save it with the talk abt how this is a "second chance" for Bobby Petrino. His rep as a world class creep came from yrs of bad behavior.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) January 8, 2014