Sports
12:58 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

WKU Introduces Bobby Petrino as Next Head Football Coach

Kevin's audio report on new WKU football coach Bobby Petrino
Bobby Petrino spoke at his introductory news conference at WKU.
Credit WKU Athletics

The new head football coach at WKU was met with applause from a room packed with people Monday afternoon. When Bobby Petrino made his way to the podium alongside WKU athletic director Todd Stewart, he was instantly recognized by college football fans in the Bluegrass State and beyond.

The former Louisville and Arkansas coach brings brings unquestioned on-the-field success, along with a good deal of off-the-field baggage and controversy. Not surprisingly, the emphasis was on the football success yesterday, as Todd Stewart officially introduced Petrino as the WKU's 18th head football coach.

"When you begin a search, the first person that you contact is the number one person on your list," said Stewart. "And for us, the number one person was Bobby Petrino. He and I began discussions about our head coaching position on Saturday afternoon, and we had multiple conversations throughout the day and evening."

Stewart says the school flew Petrino and his wife, Becky, to Bowling Green on Sunday for continued discussions. All day Monday rumors spread on campus and on the internet about the possible presense of Bobby Petrino somewhere on WKU's campus.

Unlike a lot of rumors, these proved to be accurate.

WKU and Petrino finalized contract details Monday, and the decision was formally announced by the school in news release in the early afternoon.

On one hand, landing a coach with the pedigree of Bobby Petrino is a coup for WKU. There's no debating the Montana native's coaching ability. Petrino compiled a record of 75-and-26 while at Arkansas and Louisville, leading both schools to their first BCS bowl appearances.

During his head coaching stints, as well as during his time as an assistant coach at U of L and Auburn, Petrino earned a reputation as an offensive guru, leading teams with high-powered passing attacks that racked up big points and exciting plays. Petrino says coming back to a state where he experienced so much success as a coach means a great deal to him.

"My wife Becky and I consider this coming home. We have children that are here in the state, and it's great to be able to come back to the state that we love. This was a family decision. When we looked at it, and sat down, and talked, we felt like this was something that was the best for our family--a place where we wanted to be," said Petrino.

The 51-year-old Petrino comes to WKU with a history of off-the-field controversies. The most recent was in April while he was head coach at Arkansas. Petrino was fired from Arkansas for failing to disclose the nature of a romantic relationship he had with a woman whom he hired for a position with the Arkansas football office.

Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident with the woman, but told Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long he was alone at the time of the crash. Just before a state police report mentioning the woman’s involvement in the crash was set to go public, Petrino confessed the truth to Long. Petrino was fired a few days later.

When asked Monday in Bowling Green what he would say if asked about the Arkansas firing by potential WKU recruits or their parents, Petrino said the incident could actually be an advantage.

"I'm going to be able to sit down with mom and dad and the student-athlete, and make them understand how this experience has made me a better coach, a better person, and will make me understand their son better," said Petrino.

The Arkansas incident wasn’t the first time Petrino’s judgement and integrity were called into question. He was intensely criticized for leaving the Atlanta Falcons before his first season there was complete. And during his time in Louisville, rumors surfaced that Petrino had interviewed for the head coaching job at Auburn. Petrino denied the rumors to the media and to Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich. But it was later reported that Petrino went to Auburn in the middle of the night on a private plane sent by Auburn boosters in order to interview for the coaching job there.

Now, Petrino gets to start over at WKU.

School leaders and fans hope Petrino works his football magic to bring the Hilltoppers wins, without tarnishing WKU's image in any way. Petrino's contract with WKU is good for an $850,000 annual base salary, with opportunities for incentives.

Updated at 4:35pm:

WKU didn’t wait long to hire a new head football coach, and it’s a hire that will gain a tremendous amount of national attention--and scrutiny, as well. Bobby Petrino has been introduced at an afternoon news conference as the school's 18th head football coach.

As previously announced by the school, WKU defensive coordinator Lance Guidry will coach the Hilltoppers in the Little Caesar's Bowl against Central Michigan Dec. 26.

Petrino is a former Louisville Cardinals coach who spent most of one season with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons before quitting to become the head coach at Arkansas.

In April, Petrino was fired at Arkansas for failing to disclose the nature of a romantic relationship he had with a woman whom he hired for a position with the Arkansas football office. Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident with the woman days before the firing, but told Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long he was alone at the time of the crash.

Just before a state police report mentioning the woman’s involvement in the crash was set to go public, Petrino confessed the truth to Long. Petrino was fired a few days later.

The Arkansas incident wasn’t the first time Petrino’s judgement and integrity were called into question. He was intensely criticized for leaving the Atlanta Falcons before his first season was complete, with some players and fans accusing Petrino of bailing out when the times were tough. And during his time in Louisville, rumors surfaced that Petrino had interviewed for the head coaching job at Auburn.

Petrino denied the Auburn rumors to the media and to Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich. But it was later reported that Petrino went to Auburn in the middle of the night on a private plane sent by Auburn boosters in order to interview for that school's coaching job.

Despite the toll these incidents took on Petrino’s reputation, he had been rumored to be a candidate for several open college coaching jobs recently, including the posts at Auburn and Arkansas State.

The 51-year-old Petrino has been described throughout coaching circles as an offensive football mastermind, and his 2006 Louisville Cardinals won the school’s only ever BCS bowl game, a win over Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl.

A source close to Petrino told ESPN Petrino views WKU as a program with an excellent administration with vision and a commitment to facilities and other elements necessary to win.

Original post:

WKU didn’t wait long to hire a new head football coach, and it’s a hire that will gain a tremendous amount of national attention--and scrutiny, as well. A source with knowledge of the matter has confirmed to WKU Public Radio—and several other regional and national media outlets—that the school plans to announce today that it has hired Bobby Petrino as its next head football coach.

An official announcement is set for 4p.m. central time at the Jack Harbaugh Club at L.T. Smith Stadium.

Petrino is a former Louisville Cardinals coach who spent most of one season with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons before quitting to become the head coach at Arkansas.

In April, Petrino was fired at Arkansas for failing to disclose the nature of a romantic relationship he had with a woman whom he hired for a position with the Arkansas football office. Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident with the woman days before the firing, but told the Arkansas Athletic Director he was alone at the time of the crash.

The 51-year-old Petrino was rumored to be a candidate for several open college coaching jobs despite the hit his firing had on his reputation.

New WKU football coach Bobby Petrino
Credit WKU Athletics

Petrino has been described throughout coaching circles as an offensive football mastermind, and his 2006 Louisville Cardinals won the school’s only ever BCS bowl game, a win over Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl.

A source close to Petrino told ESPN college football insider Joe Schad Petrino views WKU as a program with an excellent administration with vision and a commitment to facilities and other elements necessary to win.