NCAA Coaching Carousel: Why Programs Should Hire Bobby Petrino

Paul ThelenContributor IIDecember 4, 2012

Petrino is a proven winner. Here receiving the trophy after winning the 2012 Cotton Bowl.
Petrino is a proven winner. Here receiving the trophy after winning the 2012 Cotton Bowl.Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky already made a mistake by not hiring Bobby Petrino; but it's not too late for Auburn,Tennessee, Boston College or Purdue.

Imagine for a moment that you're a major Division I athletics director. You've just fired your head football coach, and your desk is covered with the resumes of potential replacements. You shuffle through dozens of mediocre candidates ranging from coordinators to mid-major head coaches, when, suddenly, these numbers jump off the page as you read Bobby Petrino's credentials:

Overall Record: 75-26 (Top 25 16-15) 

Bowl Record: 4-3 (BCS 1-1)

Then you look deeper.

His teams score in abundance. In 2004, his Louisville Cardinals averaged 49.8 points per game, first in the NCAA. The next two years his teams would rank third and fourth. In his second head coaching job, he had the Arkansas Razorbacks ranked in the top 20 in offensive scoring three our of his four seasons playing against the toughest defenses in the country.

Petrino is the perfect candidate for any program in need of a cultural makeover. He's done it already.


In 2002, Louisville went 7-6 and got thumped by Marshall in their bowl game. Four years later, with Bobby Petrino at the helm, the Cardinals won the BCS Orange Bowl and were Big East champions—keep in mind the Big East was formidable then.

When Petrino took over in Arkansas, his predecessor Houston Nutt left the cupboards barren of talent. Petrino proceeded to upset Auburn and LSU in his first season with Casey Dick as his quarterback— there is a reason why you've never heard of Casey Dick.

Three years later the Razorback won the Cotton Bowl and were receiving national championship hype.

The reason Petrino is able to cultivate success so quickly is largely the result of his strategic genius. As mentioned earlier, his teams score at an eye-popping rate. What allows Petrino's teams to maintain that success is his ability to develop the talent on his roster. Recruiting is important. Only an idiot would say it's not.

However, what is lost in the recruiting rankings and on-air commitments from blue-chip studs who will play as freshmen, is the skinny wide receiver who after years of development becomes Joe Adams or the undersized 3-star defensive end who becomes Elvis Dumerville.

This is comforting for a program outside of a recruiting hotbed, such as Boston College and Tennessee. Unless your names is Kiffin or Saban, or you coach at Texas, Florida, Georgia or Florida State, you're not going to land highly-touted recruits in abundance. You're going to have to depend on targeting kids that fit your system and developing them.

Anyone that questions Petrino's value to a team needs to look only at how his replacements have fared. His last year in Louisville, the Cardinals went 12-1. His replacement went 6-6 the year after. His last year in Arkansas, the Razorbacks went 11-2. His replacement went 4-8.

Look around NCAA football. The major conferences are pilfering teams from smaller conferences to accrue the sum of TV contracts. It pays to win in today's NCAA. So for the teams that are in the market for a new coach, one who is a proven winner, accomplished strategist and recognized developer of talent, do right by your fans, alumni and future student-athletes and hire Bobby Petrino.

Before someone else does.