Ever since Bobby Petrino's father let it be known that his son was interested in the head coaching job at the University of Kentucky (per Adam Himmelsbach, USA Today), football fever has improbably swept the bluegrass. Message boards and call in shows have been swamped with debates and speculation over the controversial ex-Arkansas coach possibly being brought in to revitalize the Wildcat football program.
And while none of us can know exactly what athletic director Mitch Barnhart will do (although many seem to think that they can predict it with 100 percent accuracy), the idea of Petrino coaching at UK is a polarizing issue for the Big Blue Nation to say the least.
The following are just a few of the pros and cons that will need to be weighed if he is hired.
Petrino is a Proven Winner
Aside from his ill-fated stint in the NFL, Petrino has had enormous success everywhere he has been. When he took over the reins at Louisville from John L Smith, he turned the them from a pretty good team into a BCS contender. At Arkansas, he took over a program that was reeling and in three years made them a national title contender.
Another thing that Petrino doesn't get a lot of credit for is the time he spent as an assistant coach at Idaho, Arizona State, Nevada and Utah State. Each one of those schools experienced a large amount of success with their offenses and quarterback development...which leads to the next point...
Quarterbacks Thrive Under Petrino
If there is one position where the Wildcats are inexplicably loaded with talent, it's at the quarterback position. Maxwell Smith, Patrick Towles and Jalen Whitlow all have the potential to be very special players.
Petrino's track record of helping to develop great college quarterbacks (which includes Jake Plummer, Brian Brohm and Ryan Mallet to name a few) means that the UK offense would have a chance to be very good immediately.
He Can Do More with Less
Kentucky lacks the in state recruiting base and tradition that the majority of the SEC enjoys. But if there is one thing that the Rich Brooks era taught us, it's that two or three star players like Wesley Woodyard, Randall Cobb and Danny Trevathan can become some of the best players in the league if they are well-coached.
While Petrino definitely isn't a slouch in when it comes to landing great prospects, he's proven that he doesn't need a team loaded with five-star players to compete. His recruiting classes during his four years at Arkansas were ranked 11th, seventh, 12th and ninth in the SEC respectively (per Hawgsports.com). Yet by the time he left Arkansas in 2012, the Razorbacks were poised to compete for an SEC championship and a national title.
It's clear that Petrino's system of player development (and play calling) is not entirely dependent on landing a massive class of blue chip prospects every year. He knows how to take solid players and mold them together into a great team.
Petrino Has a Clean NCAA Record
Despite the scandals and burned bridges that follow him wherever he goes, many people tend to forget (or gloss over) the fact that Petrino has not had any major NCAA violations anywhere that he has coached.
Petrino Has Betrayed or Embarrassed Every Team He Has Ever Coached
Despite Kentucky legend Joe B. Hall's assertion that not all of the issues were Petrino's fault (per Larry Vaught), there is still a long history of lying and deception that follows Petrino wherever he goes.
And if anyone thinks that "this time he's really sorry" and it won't happen again, than they clearly aren't aware of the very real possibility that Petrino is a total sociopath...and that he won't hesitate to do to Kentucky what he has done to everyone else.
Should Kentucky hire Bobby Petrino as their head football coach?
He Will Bring Increased Scrutiny
Whether it's fair or not (and in my opinion, it's not) Calipari's reputation brings a lot more heat from the NCAA and the national media. If UK also brings in someone like Petrino (and all the baggage he carries), the Pete Thamels and Jerry Tiptons of the world will do everything they can to find a story...even if it means making a lot of it up.
And if you think that's an exaggeration, just ask Enes Kanter what happened when he switched his commitment from Washington to Kentucky (per LostLetterman.com).
Petrino Has Terrible Judgement
Let's put aside the fact that Petrino didn't technically do anything illegal when he cheated on his wife and embarrassed/hurt his family and the school he worked for (even though lying to his boss and opening the school up to a potential sexual harassment lawsuit isn't exactly legal, either).
When Petrino carried on his affair at Arkansas with Jessica Dorrell, he used a school-issued cell phone (per ESPN.com). Even Brett Favre figured out that he should use a prepaid mobile phone when he was attempting to cheat on his wife, and he still got caught.
It's hard to believe that someone who is so smart about Xs and Os could be that dumb about his personal life, but the fact remains that there is still plenty of potential for him to make a mistake like this again.
The Bottom Line
Whether you believe Petrino is a good man that has made some bad decisions, or a terrible person that will only look out for himself, there is no denying that he is a great football coach. It is also very likely that he would turn Kentucky into a winning football program, which is something that its long suffering fans very much deserve.
On the other hand, you would be foolish to completely disregard his track record of scandals and leaving his employers high and dry.
At the very least, Mitch Barnhart should give him an interview to get a feel for how is he after a face to face meeting. Best case scenario is that Barnhart meets a truly changed man that can finally turn the Wildcats into a winner.
Worst case scenario, he can say that he explored all the options, but decided he didn't want to put the school and the football program at risk.
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