Tennessee Volunteers Passed on Bobby Petrino and Will Now Face Him in 2013

Richard Allen@@RacingWithRichAnalyst IDecember 10, 2012

Bobby Petrino will be on the Neyland Stadium sidelines next season to lead his Hilltoppers against the Vols.
Bobby Petrino will be on the Neyland Stadium sidelines next season to lead his Hilltoppers against the Vols.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Prior to the announcement that Butch Jones would leave the University of Cincinnati to take on the role of head football coach at Tennessee, there were some within the Vol Nation who took to websites, message boards and sports talk shows to proclaim their desire for Bobby Petrino to get the job. But eventually, UT athletic director Dave Hart steered clear of the embattled coach.

A number of Tennessee fans were less than impressed with the hiring of Jones when a proven winner like Petrino was available. 

Even after messy departures from the University of Lousiville, the Atlanta Falcons and the University of Arkansas, some believed Petrino's ability to win football games trumped any other issues he might have had. And after it became apparent that current ESPN analyst and former Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden was not looking to take over on Rocky Top, momentum only seemed to grow stronger for Petrino to be hired among a vocal element within the fanbase.

However, Petrino remained available when neither Tennessee nor any of the other schools from major conferences called on him to fill their openings.

But as was expected by many, Petrino has indeed been hired. Western Kentucky University has taken a chance on the coach. He will take his rather impressive 75-26 career record as a college head coach to Bowling Green, Kentucky in an attempt to lead the Hilltoppers to lofty heights.

In the 2012 regular season, WKU went 7-5 and earned a bid to the Little Caeser's Pizza Bowl on December 26. Previous coach Willie Taggart left last week to take the job at South Florida.

So what does all of this have to do with Tennessee?

A quick look at the 2013 Volunteers schedule shows that their second opponent of the season is none other than...Western Kentucky. After having not hired Petrino, Tennesse will have to face him early on in the tenure of Butch Jones.

Should Tennessee lose that game to WKU on September 7, there will almost certainly be no shortage of callers to sports talk shows and posters on message boards to voice an "I told you so" message regarding the failure to pursue Petrino. And to add to the dismay, should the Vols lose that game, the next two contests for the Big Orange following WKU will be consecutive road trips to Oregon and Florida.

It would be in Butch Jones' best interest that his Vols beat Western Kentucky next season. But it would be even more important that he beat Bobby Petrino.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. For NASCAR stories such as Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano Among Those to Benefit Most From Charlotte Testing please visit RacingWithRich.com.