Everyone’s got an opinion on Bobby Petrino, but no one can argue the man’s ability to coach football. And that’s why he’s being re-introduced to the community to carry on the University of Louisville’s football tradition.
One thing that hasn’t changed is his ability of motivate young men to move a football into an end zone. Remember the ritual of fans getting angry at Bobby for having his offense take a knee in an opponents’ red zone with a 40-point lead? I do. He won 41 of 50 games in four years, a dropped interception away from a potential national championship. That brand of football was not only a winner, but it was fun to watch, much more so than cheering 3-point wins against Memphis under Charlie Strong.
And while a minority of U of L fans object to the hire on moral grounds, this news must be disheartening up in Lexington. Given the chance to hire Petrino last year, UK took the safe route and found a coordinator at a top school. Mark Stoops may eventually get UK back to the point it can win 5 or 6 games a season, he’s unlikely to beat a high-powered Cardinal attack headed by the innovative Petrino, who proved last year in Nashville that he could take average players (from Western Kentucky) and whoop the Cats soundly. He never had a problem beating the Cats when he was here.
Let’s not cast stones at Petrino as if he were the first talented coach with a character flaw. Give Jurich credit – he stuck by Rick Pitino through a horrid scandal, from which The Rick produced the most successful run in Cardinal basketball history. In Lexington, fans overlooked the taint of teams John Calipari coached having their records deleted from the NCAA record books. As Mark Coomes pointed out at Insider Louisville, “There are no vestal virgins in the bordello of college sports. Some are purer than others, but it’s mostly a matter of degree. And revelation.”
Thursday’s press conference, in which Petrino is expected to be announced as the coach, will create a mass of media coverage unlike anything we’ve seen. Already, sports radio talk shows have stretched their hours to become almost 24/7, just trying to give everyone with an opinion and a telephone a chance to get their two cents in. If you’re Facebook and Twitter feeds aren’t lit up by Petrino news, you’re just not connected to the pulse of the city.
Last year, when Petrino was hired at my alma mater, WKU, some loyal fans were angry right up to the first touchdown scored against Kentucky in Nashville. Critics will be heard this time, too, but the CardNation fan base is primed for a long run of prosperity with Petrino at the helm.
The bottom line is that Bobby is the best candidate for the job, uniquely qualified to keep the Ws coming, and Jurich is one of the few A.D.s in the country with the guts to hire him.
HERE’S MY AUDIO TAKE ON THE ISSUE, ALONG WITH INTERVIEWS WITH BOB SOKOLER AND JOHN WITTEN. ON THE RUSTY SATELLITE SHOW