Bobby Petrino returning to Louisville: Cardinals and Hogs fans react

Kevin C. Cox

One of the more improbable coaching hires is bringing about an assortment of reactions.

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.

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.



[/puts dirty feet on couch and starts rolling and kicking like Rick James]


More from SB Nation college football:

To die at the Rose Bowl: Spencer Hall on the last BCS Championship

Plot twists and the ends: Bill Connelly on the Championship’s numbers

Florida State: The SEC’s worst nightmare

How FSU and Auburn were built: Why recruiting matters so much

College football news | Timeline: Bobby Petrino’s decade of scandal

Long CFB reads | The death of a college football player

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