Bobby Petrino is set to become the new head football coach of Western Kentucky, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal's Adam Himmelsbach. He takes control of the Hilltoppers after being fired by Arkansas in April.
WKU source confirms Bobby Petrino will be named Toppers head coach at 4 pm central press conference.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) December 10, 2012
UPDATE: Monday, Dec. 10 at 3:30 p.m. ET by Ben Chodos
The details of Bobby Petrino's contract with Western Kentucky have been released.
The Bowling Green Daily News' Chad Bishop reported the figures and incentives included in the deal via Twitter:
Bobby Petrino contract four years, base of $850,000. Will owe school $1.2 million if he terminates contract.— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) December 10, 2012
Petrino incentives: $10,000 per year for 12,000 season tickets per year. $300,000 for BCS bowl. $25,000 national COTY. $10,000 3.0 team GPA— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) December 10, 2012
The huge penalty will help keep Petrino with the Hilltoppers if he is able to have success with the the program and attract offers from other schools in the future.
---End of Update--
The Razorbacks' decision to let Petrino go was the end of a bizarre story. A motorcycle accident during the offseason set off a string of events that led to the discovery of an inappropriate relationship with Jessica Dorrell, a staff member.
Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long decided Petrino's attempts to cover up the relationship both before and during the investigation were enough to dismiss him. He's remained without a job ever since and has remained quiet aside from an apology to his former players.
Chris Low of ESPN.com passed along the thoughts of Razorbacks quarterback Tyler Wilson, who spoke with his former coach after the firing:
Obviously, I think there’s some true remorse there. He feels badly about what happened. It’s a tough situation for everybody … him and the team. I’m not sure what else you can say about it other than I appreciated the call.
Now, Petrino will begin working to repair his damaged reputation. It's a hire that comes with a lot of inherent risk, but also plenty of upside.
As a college coach, he has a terrific résumé. He has a career record of 75-26 (.743) after posting winning records at both Louisville and Arkansas. In his final two seasons with the Razorbacks, he went 21-5 with a Cotton Bowl victory in his final game.
His ability to recruit and develop players puts him in an elite class of coaches. Proving you can lead a winning team in the SEC is big. If not for the off-field incident, the odds are good he would still be roaming the sidelines for Arkansas right now.
On the flip side, it's impossible to know how the entire ordeal last spring will impact him. Do recruits, and their families, still view him as somebody who's worth playing for? Only time will tell.
Ultimately, Petrino was given another chance to coach because he's illustrated what he can do for a program. Even though everybody will probably rush to judgment about the decision, the truth is, nobody knows how it's going to turn out.
It will take some time, but Petrino now has the chance to show whether he is worth the risk.