Auburn Football: Tigers Would Make a Mistake by Hiring Bobby Petrino

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 24:  Head coach Bobby Petrino of the Arkansas Razorbacks against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Auburn Tigers should avoid hiring Bobby Petrino.

This past season has been an unmitigated disaster at Auburn. Just two years removed from being the national champions in college football, the Tigers finished 3-9 overall and were winless in the SEC. The lowlight of 2012 was the 49-0 loss to Alabama in the Iron Bowl. The Crimson Tide were up 42-0 at the half.

Gene Chizik was a dead man walking for weeks. It was only a matter of time before he was fired, and it hasn't taken long for the Tigers to start considering replacements. In order to try and return to the top of the heap in college football, Auburn is possibly looking at bringing Petrino back to the SEC.

This would be a very risky move for the school.

Petrino was of course last seen at Arkansas. He was fired after getting in a motorcycle wreck, in which his passenger was a female member of his staff with whom he was having an affair. That, along with the acrimonious ways in which he left Louisville and the Atlanta Falcons, have left many fans with a less-than-flattering image of Petrino.

However, no one should be under the impression that Auburn should not hire Petrino simply because of his off-field transgressions. If college sports have proven anything, it's that the almighty dollar rules all.

Sure, Tigers fans would be a bit unhappy if Petrino were to become head coach. But that would all change if he were to bring success to the school. There's no questioning that he is a good coach. He took both Louisville and Arkansas to BCS bowls.

But, would his on-field success outweigh his possible off-field problems? In the case of Auburn it would not. His hiring would be a bit symbolic that the Tigers are willing to almost win at all costs.

This is a school that recently had to deal with the Cam Newton recruiting scandal. Auburn was absolved of any wrongdoing, but that doesn't mean the NCAA wouldn't use that as leverage should the school get in trouble again.

That's exactly what could be happening in the future. The Tigers are being investigated for the possible illegal recruitment of Jovon Robinson.

The NCAA has shown recently that they're completely willing to bring the hammer down on big schools, as evidenced by Ohio State, USC and Penn State. In the case of the Nittany Lions, the NCAA levied sanctions even though no actual NCAA rules regarding recruiting, payoffs or the like were being broken.

One bad season under Chizik has bad short-term effects, but a bowl ban and reduction of scholarships would be much worse in the long term.

Hiring Petrino is a chance Auburn can't take right now.