Bobby Petrino is returning to Louisville as head coach. Yes, that Bobby Petrino, the one who has bolted in the middle of the night for numerous new jobs and saw his career at Arkansas end with scandal and road rash. The Cardinals opting to re-hire their former coach is stunning and producing incredible reaction across the Internet.
At Card Chronicle, SB Nation's Louisville site, Mike Rutherford has a nice roundup of the reaction from Twitter, which shows a wide range of emotion.
Ecstatic about this Spread Offense. You really have to pick your poison NOW. Either way it's deadly. 9,6,2,12,4,17 #AFROS— Eli Rogers (@Clutch_6) January 8, 2014
Lots of high-profile employees lack a moral code. Petrino also lied to his employer, violated employment laws, and misused state funds.— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) January 8, 2014
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
As for Rutherford's opinion, he's well aware of the risks and history associated with Petrino. But college football is a business, and business is only good when you're winning. In making the case for hiring Petrino, Rutherford points out that athletic director Tom Jurich as a solid record and should not be doubted.
None of us should trust Bobby Petrino. He's earned that doubt. But if there was ever a situation where Petrino would be loyal enough to focus all of his attention on achieving the task assigned to him by his employer, this would be it. Career restoration will fuel that same effort, sure, but it's impossible for Petrino not to feel like he owes Jurich a great deal right now.
Above all else, this is Jurich's call, and his track record indicates that it will eventually be proven to be the right one.
Other Louisville fans are a little more conflicted and having to convince themselves it's the right move, despite reservations.
This Petrino hire throws us right into the "win at all costs" narrative, rightly or wrongly. But, it should remind us that the business of college athletics, above all else, is the business of winning. Louisville doesn't get into the ACC by losing Big East games and championships. It doesn't build the most profitable athletic program in the country on losing.
What hurts most is the guy who won and who we believed didn't fall into the "win at any costs narrative" shopped his resume and left without even telling his players goodbye.
Arkansas was forced to fire Petrino in 2012 after his moral and ethical transgressions became too much of an embarrassment for the university. But that didn't stop many Razorbacks fans from supporting their head coach and expressing anger when he was let go. Because Louisville is taking back Petrino, knowing full well the details of his past bad behavior, Doc Harper at Arkansas Fight says it may again divide the fanbase and create a nightmare scenario for Arkansas and head coach Bret Bielema, especially if Bielema isn't winning big.
While Arkansas kept losing in 2013 and Auburn kept winning, the chorus of "we shouldda hired Gus!" was loud and it was constant. Even though there wasn't anywhere near the outpouring of support for Malzahn's hire in 2012 as these people would like you to believe, the refrain was everywhere this year, whether Malzahn even would have taken the job or not.
However, in 2012, there was a lot of vocal support for Petrino. People sold t-shirts outside Razorback games. Message boards and twitter and radio shows were filled with people wanting to bring Bobby back. As we wrote when Petrino was initially fired and there was debate over who would give him another job, it's a lot easier to have integrity when you're 21-5 and expecting another good year than when you're sitting at home during bowl season.
I don't know if Bielema or Long will actually feel any extra pressure if Petrino is forgiven and wins. But I have a hard time imagining the fan base will ignore it, at least if Arkansas keeps losing - and the Hogs won't be picked to be much better in 2014.
For the rest of college football fans, the neutrals with no allegiance to Louisville, Arkansas or Petrino, most are just really, really amused.
OH HO HO HO HOOHOOOOOO
AAAAAAAH HA HA HA HAH A AHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHA AHAHHAHAHHA
[/puts dirty feet on couch and starts rolling and kicking like Rick James]
AAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHHAAH JESUS AHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAA WHOOOOO HOOOOO AHAHAHAHAA CACKLE ACKLE ACKLE AAAH HAAA GGAAGHHHHHHH---
"Louisville, I'm here for volleyball ass and cash. "— Spencer Hall (@edsbs) January 9, 2014
Pictured: Bobby Petrino and Core Values pic.twitter.com/NhVwRZwvqw— Jason Kirk (@JasonKirkSBN) January 9, 2014
Can’t wait until next December when Butch Davis is complaining that Petrino got another chance and he hasn’t.— Carolina March (@carolinamarch) January 9, 2014
If he starts crying, he's Jimmy Swaggart. RT @Mengus22: Petrino hitting all the buzz words. Apologizes, mistakes, destination job, etc.— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) January 9, 2014
It'll take a long time for the jokes to die down. There's no other way to win people over but to actually stay and actually behave.— Mark Ennis (@Mengus22) January 9, 2014
that's creepy. RT @SBNationCFB: "I went to Western Kentucky so I could get close to Louisville," Petrino claims.— Jacob (@ohholybutt) January 9, 2014
Even Chizik's bullshit meter is going off. RT @SBNationCFB: "I went to Western Kentucky so I could get close to Louisville," Petrino claims.— WRNL (@WideRtNattyLt) January 9, 2014