He’s proven he can win in the Southeastern Conference.
He’s proven he can win in the Commonwealth.
Despite Big Blue Nation being excited about the hiring of Mark Stoops, the Wildcats will regret not hiring Bobby Petrino as head coach of their football team.
When UK announced Joker Phillips would not return to coach the Wildcats after the 2012 season, the name Bobby Petrino began to swirl around Lexington as the next possible head coach, though the school denied rumors. (via Yahoo! Sports). He had been a winner at rival Louisville and Arkansas, so why not Kentucky?
While Stoops seems to be a home-run hire for the Cats, Petrino would have been a grand slam. It was Kentucky’s one chance to hire a high-profile head coach whom most people tend to not think about.
The main reason there will be regret: experience.
Petrino has eight years experience as a head coach at FBS level, whereas Stoops has zero. Much like Phillips, Stoops was a high-profile coordinator with no head-coaching experience, but turned around what seemed to be a program left for dead (UK’s offense for Phillips and Florida State’s defense for Stoops).
However, it’s Petrino who has made programs turn around, and not just on one side of the ball. Petrino turned Louisville into a top-six team in the country twice in his four years, which included an Orange Bowl win. At Arkansas, he went 37-11 with trips to the Cotton and Sugar Bowls. He had Arkansas ranked as high as No. 3 in the BCS two years ago.
On top of his experience on the field, he also knows how to recruit in both the area and the conference. He was able to bring talents like Niles Davis and Tyler Wilson to Arkansas and kept hometown talent like Brian Brohm in Louisville.
Sure, the Stoops era could turn out to be good in Lexington, but the Petrino era—however, long it was—would have been great. After all, if UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart was willing to take a risk on John Calipari and his NCAA past, why not take a risk on Petrino and his personal past?