I have been trying to write this post in my head for a few days now, because even before it was official, it looked pretty good that Bobby Petrino was going to be named our next head coach. I am glad that I waited until today to write it because I was able to attend the official press conference and hear Petrino and Tom Jurich speak in person. That just sealed the deal on what I already knew: that I love the hire of Bobby Petrino as our next coach for the University of Louisville football team.
First of all, when it comes to football on the field, there aren’t many in the country that are better than Bobby Petrino. He has proven that everywhere he has been besides with the Atlanta Falcons. He won at Louisville, Arkansas, and Western Kentucky. His teams just win. So on the field between the lines, this was easily the best guy for the job.
For the state that the program is in now, we could not afford to take a step back heading into the ACC. If we got someone who was not ready for the job, and went into the ACC and finished in the middle of the pack or lower, it would have hurt recruiting because we would look like we are not the real deal. Now of course it remains to be seen how we will fare in the new conference, but I fully believe we are right there with Florida State and Clemson as the top 3 teams heading into next season. With Petrino, I think we just pick up where Strong left off, and the transition should be easier than most.
But what happens when the next big job comes up? I said this before today, and hearing the press conference only made it stronger, I don’t believe he is looking to go somewhere else. When he was at Louisville, he was a first time head coach and turned himself into a hot commodity. Other schools wanted him. Eventually, he bolted. I don’t think that happens this time. He has been there, done that, and his personal life took a big hit while doing that. He was publicly humiliated, and if there was ever a time to be humble, it has to be now. I compare it to Rick Pitino‘s situation. He went to the pros and failed, and knew where he was happy at. So he returned “home” to the state of Kentucky, where he knew he and his family would be happy. It has certainly worked out for Rick. We just have to hope it works out for Bobby. He probably said the word “home” 15-20 times today. It kept calling Louisville home, and said it was good to be back home. His family really sees Louisville as their home.
What about his issues in his personal life? The key word there is “personal.” Who am I to harp on his mistakes he has made? Have I never made a mistake? Who am I to judge someone else like that? Anyone who has never made a mistake, I applaud you. When you get off of your high horse, I will shake your hand. I also hope I never make a mistake with you, because I know I won’t get another chance. What happened in Arkansas in between him and his family. He does not have to answer to the media about details with that. He has to answer to his family, which is far more important. If they can move on and take the steps to be a stronger family, then good for them. That should be their business. When asked about how to sell himself to recruits with all of those personal issues, I thought Petrino had a great answer. He said he has been through so much that he can relate to young men with problems, and he can be there for them to help them. I thought that was the best way he could answer that, because the recruiting pitch to families that he will have has been a question.
I saw what I wanted to see at the press conference today. I saw Petrino get tears in his eyes and show emotion. I didn’t expect him to boo hoo cry, and I didn’t want him to because it would have seemed fake. But anytime he mentioned his family and coming back home, you could see the emotions stirring up in him. Jurich said he loved that because those moments are not scripted. He said “I didn’t even know he had emotions.”
Another interesting thing Jurich said was that when Petrino left Louisville last time, he did it the right way. Most fans just think he got out of town and was wrong with the way he did it. Jurich said Petrino came to him the day after (I think) the Orange Bowl and told him that the Atlanta Falcons have interest in him, but he would not talk to them until Jurich did. I did not know that before today, so that was good to hear. Jurich said that there was no way he could blame him for taking the NFL job.
There will probably be people out there that will NEVER forgive Petrino for whatever issue they have with him, and there is nothing you can do about that. Same with Michael Vick. No matter how long he is in the NFL, some people will never get over the things he did off the field. (And trust me, I definitely understand that one. That is a whole other post in itself that I never want to even touch.) For the fans that will never accept Petrino back, just cheer for the team. Or don’t, I mean it’s up to you. Hopefully some of you that are against this move will give up your season tickets so I can improve mine!
Jurich said he has never seen an outpouring of support for someone as he has in the last few days with Petrino. So many of his former players have reached out and supported him and said to bring him back. Jurich was surprised by that. He knew they enjoyed the 41-9 aspect of his coaching, but he did not know they enjoyed the man himself that much. Which is another thing Jurich talked about…he said he did not want the Bobby Petrino of 8 years ago. If he was the same guy, Jurich was ready to send him back down 65 south. He wanted a new Bobby Petrino. What convinced him that Bobby is different now? Jurich met with Becky, Bobby’s wife. He talked with her to make sure that Petrino has changed. Trust me on this, Tom Jurich did his homework with this one for sure.
Words can only go so far. Some questions will have to be answered over a period of time, so we must be patient and just see how this thing plays out. If Charlie Strong taught me one thing, it’s to not listen to or believe the next coach. I thought he was the guy, and he proved me wrong. And I am obviously a sucker, because I do believe Bobby Petrino wants to be here for the long haul. His contract is for 7 years, and Jurich said that he (Bobby) wants to be here for 15 years, so that shows where his commitment (hopefully) is.
As I always say, I had no real plan for this, just kind of rambled as thoughts came to me. But I wanted to get this done since the press conference is still fresh on my mind. On the field, I think it was easily the best hire. Off the field will remain to be seen over time, but I do believe that Bobby Petrino wants to coach at Louisville as long as possible, and I think we have our guy, finally!